Lao-ging Around

Trip Start Jan 16, 2009
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33
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Trip End May 26, 2009


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Where I stayed
Mr Noi's Thong Bang Bungalows

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hello

So we left Hue bright and early, having the free breakfast we'd managed to negotiate into our room price (baguette jam and butter). We'd managed to meet some girls going the same way, Sophie and Laura who were at Leeds at the same time as us, so of we went in a minivan to the bus station.

Despite the woman telling us we were getting a private bus and not the government bus, definitely not, we ended up sat on the government bus. The luggage hold was rammed to capacity even though there were about 5 people on the bus, so our bags ended up on the back seats. The bus never got that full of people, just massive amounts of luggage everywhere, under the seats/on the seats/around the seats..etc. Bus was fine as buses go, there was air con and an enormous, ENORMOUS tv, showing something we couldn't understand but the vietnamese/laos people seemed to like.

We got to the Lao Bao border at about 12.30, and it was very nice and straight forward, definitely one of our better borders, we didn't even have to get our bags off of the bus. Due to the visa price being in Kip and being unable to get hold of kip out of Laos we had to pay in dollars, which as you may or may not know don't buy as much as they used to, so the visa was $40 not $35 as we'd expected. We got talking to a swede called Anna, so our 4 became a 5.

After the border we stopped for some noodle soup lunch, which we paid for in a combo of kip and dollars just to confuse everything!
We got to Savannaket at about 6pm and set off to the town centre in a tuktuk, we told him to take us to an ATM, where we got our first feel for Kips. We then had to walk for AAAGGGEEES (ok like 800m) to a hotel, we were all absolutley exhausted from the epic journeying of the last few days and we werent even at our destination yet, this was just a stop over.
We rested amd washed etc then went to find some tea, we walked for ages down the Mekong (you can see Thailand) but didnt fancy the meat on sticks, ended up somewhere that did the usual, curry/rice/noodle soup type things and ordered. Had our first BeerLao, the national drink.

We went to bed really early as the next morning had to catch another bus at 7.30am, thought we didnt have to go to the bus station, we just walked to the main road and flagged it down. We had baguettes with dubious but tasty meat for breakfast and then settled in for the bus ride to Pakse. The bus ride was not air conditioned, it kept stopping so women with bits of birds of sticks could sell their wares to us (see pics), the beetle kebabs im afraid we didnt try. Anna was sleeping and the pervy laos man next to her decided to cop a feel, she managed to get a good whack in before he ran of. What a perv. The laos woman behind looked suitably unimpressed too.


We got to Pakse at 12ish and then had to take a tuktuk from the northern to the southern bus terminal, some 10km. When we got then we had an hour to wait for the Sangalangathaw (not its real spelling, lets say local bus) to take us to Don Det. In this time we had some noodle soup which came with massive amounts of folliage and some steak and was really cheap. About 10minutes before the bus was leaving the i guess conductor, but that sounds too formal a title, the man who stood on the back came to look for us, nice of him.
Again the local bus stopped a lot to let women sell us things on sticks. A Laos lady gave us some of these orange fruits, like apricots but not, which were nice.

We passed some westerners on an even more local form of transport, and our driver decided he wanted to pick them up, the spanish as i think they were bartered for about half an hour, annoying everyone in the bus, they seemed oblivious to this. One of them kept singing and clapping which was... nice... not annoying at all. (I should prob point out I (Raywood here) was feeling pretty grumpy, at some point me and EW have got throat infections or something and at various points had felt terrible. This was one of those points, combined with the excessive amounts of bus travel, I was grumpy and didnt care that the Spaniard wanted to pay 25p less).
Eventually they got on, we set off, ended up going down quite a few dirt tracks etc. Got to the port for the boat to DonDet at about 6? something like that, it hadnt been sunset yet. The Spaniards were unable to barter the boat price down so we all ended up in one boat, which was definitley not that sturdy... oh my.

Don Det, the boat ride there, was indeed stunning. Si Phan Don, 4000 Islands is where they named the sauce after you know. Its a beautiful place, see pics. EW and Anna went in search of acomm, we ended up in some bungalows where we all shared a porch, very nice, but the toilet and shower were across the road, behind the restaurant, not as nice. Also there was no light in our room, a window yes, electricity no. Infact the whole place is off the grid. We had electricty between 6pm and 10pm, though as our room had no fan this didnt really matter. Despite this lack of electricity there were still loads of satelite dishes and TVs, I guess you do need your priorities right....
We had some tea and then passed out asleep, Anna mentioned a bike ride to a waterfall the next morning but this all sounded a little too energetic...

We stayed on Don Det for 4nights and during this time we did the same everyday, I shall summarise our activities here.

7-9amish, wake up covered in sweat. Have shower, sit in hammock for a nap. Have a baguette with cheese/jam for breakfast. Either head to the beach for some swimming in the river and admiration of the water buffalo or stay on porch in hammock reading, perhaps going down to river to cool down.
1ish Eat some lunch, probably a sandwich.
Sleep some more,
6pmish watch the sunset from the beach or just a hammock.
Wait for the electricity to come on, go find some food (probably coconut curry, whatever you try and order it will always be the same thing).
10pmish, no more electricity, go to the reggae bar (with a generator so electricty until 11pm!) and then the beach and watch the bonfire until the small hours, pehaps drinking Lao Lao Whisky.

It was indeed a very nice relaxing time, considering wed spent 3 days and nights trying to get there.

From our bungalows you could get down to the river and bathe really easily, though the tide was the wrong way from the beach and very strong, so try as we might we just couldnt swim upstream.
Was really a very beautiful  place, nicer for the lack of electricity even.

On the 4th day we realised that we dont have all that much time left so decided we should leave, we booked another local bus (see pics) to get to Pakse, staying for a night before heading to Vientiane and the north.

So here we are now, in Pakse, where it is really very hot still, but we now have 24h access to fans :)

Lots of love,
Emmas
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