July 5, 2009

On the way back north from 4000 Islands, we stopped in a site of ancient ruins called Wat Phu Champasak.

As our Lonely Planet book says, the ruins here date from the 5th century, but most of what we see today was built in the Angkorian period.  For this reason a few backpackers we met along the way said “if you don’t have time to enter Cambodia and visit Angkor Wat, this is the next best thing.”

Well, Pnina and I didn’t have time for Cambodia in this trip.  When we decided to add Japan to our itinerary we had to cut something, and out went Cambodia and Vietnam (though we will definitely visit them some day).  I did visit Angkor Wat in a previous trip, about ten years ago, and I basically agree with the statement.  Champasak is way smaller than the ruins at Angkor Wat.  But Champasak is also a little different – it’s situated close to a river and the vegetation here is quite lush by comparison.

The long walkway at the entrance to the Champasak ruins:

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Pnina standing in front of one of the few large structures (still far smaller than the temples at Angkor Wat):

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The broken-down steps leading up the hill (are picturesque because they’re broken-down):

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Heading up the steep portion of the hill:

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A woman selling candles and flowers near the temple at the top:

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Beautifully preserved carvings outside the temple:

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One of the temple structures:

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The view of the valley from above:

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Frangipani – the temple flower.  You see these everywhere, from India to Laos:

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