I read a couple blog posts mentioning a hike across the river from Luang Prabang in the Chomphet District, it looked much more interesting to me then checking out the temples in town so I decided to go for it. I hopped on a ferry right down the street from my hotel, and within a couple minutes I was on my way to hunt down temples.
The first two, Wat Chomphet and Wat Long Khoun were fairly simple to locate, I pretty much just walked north on the dirt trail and eventually ran into someone asking me to pay for a ticket. The admission was 10,000 kip for these ones.
|Stairway to Wat Chomphet|
|Temple @ Wat Chomphet|
|Looking back @ Luang Prabang|
|Main temple @ Wat Long Koun|
|More stuff at Wat Long Koun|
|Main temple from other side|
North of the first two temples the amount of other tourist dropped off quickly to zero, and after only another kilometer the amount of locals did also. The next temple I bumped into was Vat Had Siaw, the grounds were empty here except for some dogs and the only way north was through a bamboo fence. While I was stuck here trying to decide whether to cross the fence or not, I was reminded of the eerie feeling I used to get playing Tomb Raider where it's really silent for a while and then something jumps out of the dark and scares the living shit out of you. I ended up hopping the fence, and after another kilometer or so in this Buddhist jungle maze I finally came across the water temple Wat Nong Sakeo.
|Vat Had Siaw|
|Vat Had Siaw|
|Fence North of Vat Had Siaw|
|Tunnel of branches|
|Vat Nong Sakeo|
To the north of the the Wat Nong Sakeo I went ahead and guessed another path out of 3 choices. I followed until the path opened up to a wide hillside going up to a small hilltop where I found the great 7 Headed Naga statue placed facing south west toward a beautiful hillside.
|Wheres the path?|
|7 Headed Naga|
|7 Headed Naga's view|
After getting to the 7 Headed Naga, I hopped down the hillside toward the river and found another northward path 50 meters down. I tried to follow this path, however after 25 minutes I began to feel as-though I was just getting deeper into the jungle. I decided I'd better turn around before I end up in an episode of survivor man, and looking at the map now it's a good thing I did.
Eventually I made my way back onto the original trail and found my way to the Mekong, from here I immediately noticed another Temple to the north with steps going up to it from the shore. With nothing but water and cliffs in sight this seemed to be a reasonable option, at the top of the stairs I was greeted by multiple dogs who made quite a bit of noise as I entered. I later discovered this temple to be Wat Khok Pab.
|Stairway to Wat Khok Pab|
After leaving Vat Khok Pab, I decided I'd seen enough and should probably get back to town. With no ferries in sight at this point along the river, I figured I'd walk along the slope on the edge of the river until I reached where I'd originally crossed. It didn't take long for me to start feeling exhausted, as I'd run out of water hours ago and my stomach was now growling for its next meal. I walked for sometime until I saw a small boat zigzagging toward me from across the river. When he arrived I pointed at the other shore and said "how much kip?", his price was 50,000 kip. This was a blatant rip off, but being stuck on a riverside with nothing except dense jungle behind me, and at least a kilometer until the ferry landing I thought I needed to negotiate with this guy. I told the guy 15,000 kip and then when he said no I pulled the same trick I'd learned in Beijing, I turned around and walked away( toward a wall of trees). The boat guy yelled out after I got about 15 feet away and said "ok ok I will 20,000 kip", this was a major relief because had I reached the trees I guess I would have had to start climbing through them in order to keep my bluff going.
|In the boat|
Once I reached the other side, it was only a short walk south till I reached the Nam Khan River and the bamboo bridge to old town Luang Prabang.