Having spent most of yesterday afternoon exploring Wat Phou, there was not much time for any other sightseeing around Pakxe before returning to On’s village.
However, On’s cousin suggested visiting some Khmer ruins not far from the village in the morning before we caught the bus back to Savannakhet. To be sure, after visiting Wat Phou yesterday and really groovin’ on the Khmer ruins there, I was all up for some more sightseeing before On and I headed back to Savannakhet and then on to Bangkok.
Located some 65 kilometers south of Savannakhet and 15 kilometers west of National Highway 6 on the banks of the Mekong River, the ruins of Heuan Hin, or “Stone House,” is believed to have been one of the 121 rest houses (dharmasala) constructed by Jayavarman VII (1181-1218) along the roads, which once criss-crossed the Khmer empire.
Unless you were familiar with the area or knew someone who was, the ruins would be very hard to find on your own (I couldn’t find any mention of them in the guidebook I had, but I did come across the site on a map I purchased). Likewise, the road to the ruins is not too good, and in some places (at least during the rainy season) would be impassable unless you had a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Sadly, the structure is in poor condition and most of the original carvings have been lost. Still, it is interesting to climb around these ancient ruins. What I found most interesting is that the stones used to build the rest house appeared to have been brought there from somewhere else because I could not find any rocks in the area that seemed similar. I wonder if they could have brought up from the Mekong from southern Laos or Cambodia (there were some holes in the rocks which gives one the impression that they might have been placed there to help carry the rocks.) The rocks also appear to be either igneous or granite which don’t seem to be indigenous to the area (though they could have come from the Mekong).