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Champasak: The Temple of the Frog

Our main reason for stopping in Champasak was to visit some nearby temple ruins, Wat Phu Champasak, which dated from the Angkor period; meaning it was built sometime between 900 and 1300AD. Yeah, back when Australia was still at least 500 years from being discovered by Europeans.

So after a wondrous nights sleep following our never-ending search for a Cambodian visa, Bec and I hired a couple of bikes to ride the 8km out to the temple ruins. This time though, unlike our previous biking trips, there were no mountain bikes, no front suspension to help us get over the bumps, and certainly no gears. For Champasak wasn’t exactly a bustling metropolis. It pretty much consisted of a single street running parallel with the Mekong river; a shoddy paved road lined with wooden huts, some concrete guesthouses and residences (thanks to the period of French control) and the odd wat (or temple).

The bikes we hired (for $1 US for the day) were straight out of the 1950’s (or current day Berlin), with slightly curved handlebars, and a seat that had you sitting up straight enough to cure any posture problems you may have.

“I could just see my Dad riding this thing to university, with a pile of books under one arm,” Bec commented as we rode along, dodging the pot-holes in the road.

As we headed further out of Champasak, and through other tiny villages, it struck me as how happy one can feel from simply smiling, waving, and saying hello to strangers, and especially kids. We got all kinds of smiling faces and cries of “Sabaidee” as we pedalled, from kids playing in the dirt, to adolescents on mopeds, to old men and women riding push-bikes like our own. You cannot help but smile.

The ruins themselves were amazing; resting peacefully at the base of the mountains, crumbling old temples lining a lengthy promenade leading to steps that took one up the side of the hill to still more, smaller temples. A huge yellow Buddha sat in one. Locals would kneel in front of it, place a lighted incence candle in a bucket of sand at the Buddha’s feet, and place their hands together in front of their faces to pray. It felt intrusive to be walking through such a place as a tourist.

Back at Champasak later that afternoon, we were greeted in our guesthouse bathroom by a friendly, but unwanted visitor. Bec gave a shriek of shock as she walked in, “Uh, there’s something in the bathroom.” I immediately thought it was a snake, following my run-in with the giant, man-eating predator in Vang Vieng, and backed towards the door. “Come take a look,” she gestured, turning around, and, upon seeing the worried look on my face assured me, “don’t worry, it’s not a snake.”

I poked my head around the door to see a big brown frog sitting in the corner of the bathroom. It had gotten in through the drain, which was simply just a small hole at the base of the wall leading directly outside, and now sat about 6 inches from here. After unsuccessfully trying to frighten it our with sudden noises, I grabbed our camera tripod, extended one of the legs, and began prodding the frog near its behind. I didn’t want to prod too hard though, as not far in front of it was the toilet; the not-properly-flushing-toilet-with-its-cistern-lid-on-the-floor, and the last thing I wanted was for it to hop straight into the toilet cistern.

I poked and poked, and got nothing. I tapped the frog and then tapped the drain hole, “C’mon frog, out you go,” I pleaded, like Happy Gilmore talking to his golf ball. “Are you too good for your home?”

That’s it, I thought. I put the tripod leg at the arse-end of the frog, and pushed it towards the drain. And he still didn’t budge, he simply sat motionless as I slid him across the wet tiles. He was like a kid being dragged from in front of the tv to go eat dinner, refusing to move a muscle. I stopped him at the drain hole, and he finally moved; hopping away from the hole towards the other corner. Damn. But then, as though sensing my dissatisfaction, it turned, hopped back to the drain, and squeezed its way back outside. Thank Freddo for that.

After 2 nights in Champasak, we made the journey back in to Pakse to spend one night there, before picking up our visas and getting a bus further south the next morning.

And that night was just what we needed. For $10 Australian, we got a hotel room with a private bathroom, a fridge, and a tv, and spent the night with a couple of beers, watching ‘A League of Their Own’ and ‘Mad Max II’ (or The Road Warrior, as it was called in North America), and Roger Federer beat Tommy Haas in the Australian Open.

Next destination: the Four Thousand Islands near the Cambodian border. Not all of ’em, of course.

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No Responses to “Champasak: The Temple of the Frog”

  1. Bec Says:

    And can I mention that for those $10 Aussie dollars we also got hot water! Woo Hoo

  2. Posted from Cambodia Cambodia
  3. couch blogger Says:

    I’m wishing you fun in Cambodia. Wish I had the time to travel so much.

  4. Posted from Germany Germany

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