A Wat Phou Photo Gallery - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

December 21, 2023

A Wat Phou Photo Gallery

Rest Day in Champasak

A Wat Phou Photo Gallery

Wat Phou is five kilometers south of the tiny town of Champasak, Laos and is one thousand years old.  There is of course Angkor Wat and its complex of ancient temples much to the south in Cambodia and Wat Phou is a contemporary since the reign of those Khmer kings stretched far and wide.  But, there are also the remains of an ancient town near the Mekong not far from Wat Phou that predate the Angkor era by as much as six hundred years.  Not much is known about the town, however an inscription mentions a sanctuary built on the hill.  This means that this site is possibly the oldest religious site in SE Asia.  

It was probably considered sacred, because of the springs near the top of the mountain.  When the Angkor era came along, which was Hindu based, they first saw the natural linga (phallic shaped rock formation) at the summit of the adjacent mountain, Phou Kao.  A natural lingam (placed there by God) plus a spring!!  Obviously they were signs that a temple must be built there.  [A linga is the phallic symbol of Shiva.]

Wat Phou is one of my favorite places because the temple is more an incorporation of nature than physical buildings.  If anything, the walkway and stone steps up the side of the mountain IS the temple.  The walkway, which faces east, is lined with enormous, gnarled frangipani trees, bigger than any I've ever seen.  I have no idea how old they are but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they are hundreds of years old.  

At the top, instead of a massive temple complex there is just a little square, unimposing building, now taken over by Buddha statues inside.  Behind it the massive rock face and spring which bubbles up from beneath it, along with the lingam on top of the adjacent mountain visible for miles around, are the most sacred things about Wat Phou.  The view from the top alone is sacred. And the Mekong River can be seen in the distance.   It seems to me the site is purely a celebration of nature.  Birds, all around, confirm it.

This is our third visit to Wat Phou and I never get tired of being there.  To walk up the many steps on the ancient and shifting blocks of stone is a meditation.  Frangipani flowers fall at your feet, you are far from any vehicle noise and everyone making their way up the stones all seem to feel the peaceful energy.  It's one of those places.  

The phallic knob, which I'm sure you are all looking for, is not on the tallest mountain but at the summit of the one just to the right of it.
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Rachael AndersonIt’s so beautiful!
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1 month ago
A closer look at that phallic knob.
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Mark Lellmanreally have to use my imagination on that one. Looks more like a breast.
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1 month ago
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The entrance to Wat Phou.
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The only substantial buildings are at the base. They are symmetrical in size and shape and each have an inner courtyard. They were certainly used for religious purposes but it is not known what exactly.
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A seven-headed serpent is a commonly seen statue at both Hindu and Buddhist temples.
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It's always a plus when colorful monks show up at ancient monuments.
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These stairs have toppled so drastically that it is unsafe to climb them and one has to scramble to the right or left which are routes on other unsafe stones!
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Frangipani trees lose their leaves in the winter but keep blooming. Their fragrance is lovely.
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I'm happy these statues have been left lying where they were found.
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But I hate the recent addition of a Coke machine and ice cream freezer. After viewing ancient statues lying in the soil do people suddenly crave a Coke?
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Jen RahnBe respectful and reverential and, above all else, Consume!

Barf.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesIs the message really "Things go better with CocaCola" ?
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Steve Miller/GrampiesRight!! In this case, for me, things couldn't have been worse than to see a Coke machine in this spot. Get it out of there!! Also, I remember when the grass extended all the way over there where it is now all worn down to dirt. It was much more enchanting with grass all around.
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1 month ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bruce LellmanWe find it so depressing, here in Mexico, how much Coca-Cola people consume. They have such easy access to freshly squeezed orange juice and other local fruit juices. The long reach of the huge multinationals is really frightening.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Steve Miller/GrampiesYes, here too. Vietnam held out and I'm so impressed that they make just about everything themselves. But we saw that slowly, even there, Coke and other things like that are finally seeping in. I think it's sad.
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1 month ago
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The biggest frangipani trees I've ever seen.
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Frangipani flowers
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We have no idea what this is.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like some kind of Hibiscus.
https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/48891-Hibiscus/browse_photos?quality_grade=any&place_id=7001
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekThat's an eastern weeping chlamydia.
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1 month ago
John Solemhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abelmoschus_manihot
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo John SolemI think you are right, John. Good job! But Bill was on the right track with hibiscus because apparently this used to be classified as a hibiscus. Interesting plant, so high in nutrition. The dried leaves contain 12-14% protein! That's kind of amazing. I saw this plant just off the stone walkway, certainly it had not been planted.
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1 month ago
Mark Lellmanmy plant identifier says it is a Sea hibiscus, a species of Talipariti tillaceum, native to SE Asia. I won't bet on it, but this app is usually correct, not always, but usually.
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1 month ago
Andrea BrownTo Ron SuchanekIn cases like this, we always consult you.
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekTo Andrea BrownThat's the wise thing to do.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Mark LellmanI don't think so. Two things: the flowers on the plant I saw are wide open and on the talipariti they are more trumpet-like. And the leaves aren't right. The other thing is that I really don't think this one becomes a shrub or small tree. I think it remains smaller. I think John Solem has it.
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1 month ago
And this is the foliage.
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John SolemI want to be there. Right now.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanYou would love this place. We were lucky to get up there fairly early in the day and there also has been a shift in weather making it much cooler than it's been. Usually it is sweltering on the trudge up these stones even early in the morning because it is totally exposed to the sun.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo John SolemI meant for my reply to be to you but I clicked the wrong 'reply'.
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1 month ago
At the top there are four recently places soda machines and an ice cream freezer, electrical wires strung on the ground all the way up! If this were a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which it should be, there is no way this would be allowed.
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These are decorations sold as offerings to the temple. They are made up with the smallest denomination Kip bills worth less than $.05 each.
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This is a type of mimosa tree. There are many.
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Very Khmer.
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A Hindu building at the top taken over by Buddhas.
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These Buddha images have been here a long time.
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John SolemThis one seems a little less soulful but that’s ok.
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1 month ago
Andrea BrownTo John SolemHe kind of looks like Bruce, don’t you think?
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1 month ago
John SolemTo Andrea BrownYes, totally!
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo John SolemAll enlightened and everything.
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1 month ago
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The spring is underneath this cliff.
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This trough directs the water from the spring, which is under the cliff, into a stone basin.
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I would love to sit on this enormous stone and have it tell me all that it has seen. But there was a sign that I couldn't climb it.
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lovebruce

Today's ride: 9 miles (14 km)
Total: 467 miles (752 km)

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Comment on this entry Comment 2
Bo LeeI love this place!!
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1 month ago
Rachael AndersonTo Bo LeeI second that!
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1 month ago