Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cycling through Champasak

Champasak is a quaint one-street town strung out on the banks of the Mekong. Along its one street, old French colonial piles are mixed in with Chinese shophouses, wooden Lao homes and the odd new hideous modern house in Lao-European style and birthday cake colours. Bicycling through is the best way to get a feel of this town, the closest to the pre-Angkorian ruins at Wat Phou. The most beautiful French colonial house is the perfectly proportioned ochre mansion of the former Prince of Champasak, Boun Oum with its green louvered shutters and bandstand entrance. The neighbouring white house is also said to have been a royal residence.
At sunset, I settled down into a riverfront cafe to watch clumps of vegetation float by, children bathing in the river, herb plots being showered by watering cans, fishing nets tugged in the water and fishermen on canoes. As the sky glowed pink, wisps of mist rose above the water.

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