East of Attepeu
What we say:
On the other side of the new bridge across the Sekong River the road leads to the village of Xaysettha (this is the new name of the village, the old name is Phang Daeng) a particularly friendly village around 12km and 20 minutes away. It has a couple of interesting wats with a pretty setting on the bank of the Se Khaman River -- all the locals seem to spend all day long lolling around in the river, fishing, swimming and chatting. You can get out here by tuk-tuk from the riverside market at the base of the bridge -- costs 10,000 kip.
While you're there, ask for Wat Phang Daeng -- two blocks past the Huay Phateun bridge -- which is a good starting point for a stroll around the village. It is a nice wat with a khmer style prang built in 1935 and the small chapel contains a large seated Buddha, though the rest of the wat looks a lot older. (none of the locals seems to know just when it was originally built.)
Walking through the village towards the fjord you'll see some ruined French colonial buildings and a smaller wat painted an unusual turquoise with some nice wooden carvings.
Wade through the fjord (waist height in dry season) or pay the boatman and you'll be in the village of Muang Khao on the opposite bank. The highlight here is Wat Luang, a very old, very prestigious wat that looks like it will fall down at any minute. There is a huge Buddha inside though.
Next to the wat a path leads through a small wood where the original forest has been preserved by the locals as a place to collect plant specimens for herbal medicines.
The path emerges from the copse onto the river bank opposite Wat Phaeng Daeng, swim across or pay a boatman. There is a government guesthouse, the Santisouk Guest House T:(036) 211 717, on the riverbank just to the left of the wat. It has nine pretty dingy and basic rooms with shared facilities -- they're a steal at 30,000 kip a night. There's also some cafes across the street from the wat with sticky rice, noodles and drinks -- the one at the head of the road to the pier has exceptionally good noodles. Tuk tuks cruise past the cafes before heading back to Attapeu.
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