Down the Road in Laos
Having survived the tubing experience we decided it was time to head back into the water & take a less obvious mode of transport down to Laos’ capital, Vientiane. Kayaking. It turned out to be a horrific idea given that James & I were absolutely hanging after the previous night’s excursions in the party capital of Vang Vieng! Thankfully the journey was split between kayak & minibus so our misery was somewhat reduced.
Vientiane is pretty understated & boring to be honest! We went to a market, quickly got bored, so went to get a full body massage… for about $10!! Bargain. Unfortunately my neck still clicks from a previous skiing injury though so no miracles. I got to watch the lions game for a little bit that night which suitably fed my under nourishment of sport since arriving in South East Asia. We left Vientiane the night after arriving & headed south on a 14 hour overnight bus to Pakse.
Our so-called ‘VIP’ bus had a 5 foot long bed & had been ineptly painted to make it look like some crazy party bus… much to our disgust the lights went out at 8.30 bringing our card game to an abrupt end… which me, James, Mollie & Nicky were all rather enjoying! We stayed in Pakse for 3 nights & though the city itself was far from spectacular we rented motorbikes & the 4 of us headed out of town to 3 waterfalls on day 1, & an infamous temple on day 2. It was very eventful cruising down what is allegedly Laos’ MAIN road, which was compiled of a little tarmac, a few potholes, & a LOT of animals!… including cows, goats, chickens, & a family of ducks that just survived our passing by!! We drove home with the sun setting over the mountains to our left, clouds hugging the ridges. It was gorgeous.
Onward we went through Laos, down to the 4000 islands at the country’s southern tip. Our minibus driver rather liked his horn so sleeping wasn’t an option!… & i had to sit up front with his wife & kid which made the journey more… interesting… yeah, I’ll stick with interesting. We arrived at the boat pier & boarded an apparently safe canoe-stylee boat with a motor attached to make the 10 minute journey to the island of Don Det. Once there we lay in our hammocks all day, reading books, listening to music & just generally relaxing for pretty much the entire 1st day since leaving… yes mother, I did read!
The next day me & Nicky left James & Mollie lounging & rented some god awful push bikes to venture to another island, Don Khon, via an old French railway bridge. We went to yet another waterfall & then a quaint little beach to try & catch a glimpse of the rare Irrawaddy dolphins that inhabit the Mekong, but as we were too tight to pay for a boat we didn’t see a lot… well, nothing to be precise, but it was still a good day out & about exploring & the waterfall was impressive, purely on the basis of the volume of water rushing past. The day did take a slight turn for the worse when my bike got a puncture.
The roads were absolutely shocking, & I mean a painful, bum wrenching shocking. Given my previous track records with our two-wheeled friends back in my paper round days I stood little chance in making it back to our river bungalow unscathed… though I did have to poo so bad my stomach was in a fair bit of pain! A 4km walk though & we were back in time for some beers by the river. Another lazy day of ’hammocking’ on Don Det before heading to the Cambodian border.