. He tells us that it wont be here until about 11:00. Still no bus by 09:05 and the songthaew is about to leave so reluctantly we board. He offers me the front seat next to the driver then tells Jai that she will have to squash into the small space behind the seats if she wants to sit up front as well. I tell him to forget it and we both get int the back with the other passengers and unusually no livestock. The sun had actually come out a little bit and it is not too bad when pressed up against the back of the cab out of most of the wind. We make good time with the driver dangerously overtaking on bad roads and blind corners regardless of oncoming traffic. I soon decide it is better to look out the back of the bus rather than the front where I can see what is coming. We quickly arrive at Muang Phin where I tell the driver I will be 2 minutes and run over to the memoral to Laos-Vietnamese co-operation in the Indo-China wars. It is typical of its genre with the flags flying high atop soldiers waving their AK-47s in the air. There is what appears to be the wreckage of an aircraft lying in the field in front of the memorial but it is beyond identification - to me anyway. Get back on the bus before the driver decides to leave me behind. The journey is a lot quicker than the big bus and not too uncomfortable and we are dropped off at the market in Savannakhet about 12:30. Jai has decided that she wants to stay somewhere else in town this time so we walk around a bit and check-out a couple of guest houses before we find one that looks OK
. The Savannanimarit Guest House looks like it has not been ope very long and in places work is still in progress. The room is bright and clean and has satellite TV. I go for a walk around this new part of town whilst Jai goes to the big market to have her nails done. Passing the market I go to look for her and arrive just at the business end of her deal. The two ladies who have done her nails have been paid and are happy but a third who claims to have given her a massage whilst the nails were being done wants paying as well and has even taken one of Jai's shoes as hostage. Situation is soon sorted but it is fair to say that I am not this particular lady's favourite person !! Back to the room for a snack and BeerLaos using my BeerLaos glass that I 'liberated' from Xepon. We head out about 18:00 for the 25 minute walk to the od town where we usually stay and go to see the boy where I get a big pile of Laos mobile phone cards. Unfortunately he doesnt have any so I dont know if he has found someone else to supply or if he genuinely just doesnt keep them anymore. Oh well, we have collected about 200 in our travels the last few days. Then for something to eat but as usual we cant agree on where to go or what to eat and we end up with fried rice that neither of us want but it is quick and easy. Back to the room where I am straight to sleep leaving Jai watching Thai soaps on TV.
We are up with the alarm again this morning at 5:30 and after a coffee from reception check-out and make our way to the roadside next to the market. This is where we have been told that the buses coming from the border will (may ?) stop. Had been told that the first bus usually passed through at about 7:00 so that is when we arrive. It is very cloudy, windy, and cold again. A songthaew is just leaving the market bound for Savannakhet but it is open sided and will be freezing cold so we decide to wait for the proper bus. The driver of the songthaew tells us that the bus wont be here before 10:00 but we dont believe him. At 8:00 o'clock there is still no sign of a bus and as a market stall next us opens Jai asks the owner about buses. The lady at the shop tells us the bus usually comes just after 08:00 but can come any time before 09:00. She seems like a reliable source we continue our waiting. At 08:45 another songthaew arrives and comes after our custom. I tell him no thanks that we are waiting for the big bus to some