Typical roadside food stall with Squid brand nam paa (fish sauce) & other condiments, & interesting contraption for carrying the blue container:
5:00PM - time to make one's way up to the top of Phou Si for sunset. There are two main routes up the hill. Most tourists gravitate towards the northwest approach directly across from the main gate of the Royal Palace Museum. The southeast approach has at least four different paths converging on it:
- from between the Children's Cultural Centre & Talat Dala along Th. Kitsalat (Setthathilat on some maps), leading through Ban Khamyong
- from between some homes opposite the main entrance of Wat Aphay along Th Ratsavong (Chao Sisouphone on some maps)
- further northeast along Th Ratsavong, from a zigzag staircase with white naga balustrades leading to Wat Thammo
- from the back of Wat Siphouthabhat into Wat Thammo
The cat tried out the Ban Khamyong path, asking kids playing at the steps of the building that would become the TAEC Laos museum for directions through the maze of homes:
It found itself wandering past wooden houses with chillies drying atop rusting zinc roofs, chickens being shooed out of living rooms, mothers bathing their kids at the front of their homes, & through people's backyards along dusty dirt paths...
It felt like a world away from the old city area & its manicured lanes & French colonial-style buildings housing boutique hotels & restaurants (with menus displaying prices the equivalent of a few or more days' wages of the waitstaff who work in them). This route also passes near a green-roofed building that used to be the residence of the French governor during the colonial days (8 o'clock positiion of the summit in this map).
Poisonous Lantana camara:
& then the cat heard laughter coming from above as it walked towards a tamarind tree...that turned out to be full of novices who'd climbed up to pluck & snack on the fruit...Shocked to find someone approaching they leapt & shinnied down the tree with sheepish hope-this-cat-doesn't-rat-on-us (for eating after 12PM) grins. What more, these immodest monk-eys had climbed up without tying up their sabong jongkraben (โจงกระเบน) style...
Further on was a table that served as the ticket booth - 10,000kip (now doubled to 20,000kip) to ascend beyond this point to the top. Probably thinking that the cat wouldn't get to see much of Phou Si since it had arrived so late in the day, one of the two old men selling the tickets told the cat to hang on while he adjusted his stamp...& so the cat received a ticket stamped with the date '28 DEC 2006', allowing it to make as many climbs as it liked up to the top the next day - two days for the price of one :)