Pakse is a very pleasant town that is almost waiting to be filled with lots of people. There are huge new wide roads and smart traffic lights and big hotels - including one MONUMENTAL one that used to be a Royal palace before the revolution. It's just that Laos doesn't really have a big population and even with the odd influx of travellers at peak season it still feels remarkably quiet.
On our first night we were wandering through the town and came across Tom and Vic whom we had met in Vientiane on our last night there, along with a nice Aussie guy called Mick who they had met on the bus that day. It was so nice to meet them again and after a quick massage, joined them for some drinks at their hotel which turned into a lot of drinks and a decision to join their party for a trip to a famous temple ruin called Wat Champusak the next day.
The ruin itself is stunning and doesn't require a lot of imagination to summon up how it must have dominated the local area and how it must have impressed those on their way to the capital when the Angkor empire reigned supreme.
**Text added 03/03/07**
The trip was excellent fun and we were in great company. We bumped into another English couple that Cheryl and I had met in the 4000 islands (Nick and Fizz) at the temple who joined us on the return leg back to Pakse, having standed themselves at a random hotel in Champusak village (there really wasn't ANYTHING there!). Later we had a great dinner at an Indian restaurant where Mick had his own ice bucket for his beers (they've got to be almost ice cold, haven't they Mick, you true blue Aussie you!) and ended quite drunkenly in the early hours on the balcony of Mick's bedroom. It was there that Cheryl and I agreed wholeheartedly and enthusiastically that we would get up first thing in the morning and buy two flights to Siem Reap in Cambodia and join Mick in visiting the temples of Angkor Wat the next day. As you do.
It all fell beautifully into place. We sailed into a travel agent at 8am and got our tickets and cruised to the market and bought three sets of beerlao t-shirts and matching baseball caps (we wanted to establish a uniform for our little tour group) and knocked on Micks door and invited him to join us in a little visit to Cambodia, giving him 25mins to get dressed and packed and join us on a tuktuk to the airport...
Before we knew it we were on our way to Cambodia!