May 11, 2005
. Next day we went out to the ruins and were blessed with a cloudy day. Wat Phu actually has 3 levels and they outdate Ankor. It was quite lovely and the view was pretty so we sat and relaxed for a while. That night we had Indian food and talked about the young Canadian guy who had died on Don Det probably the day before we left. We had just found out he'd been shimmying across a wire over some rapids and fell in. No one knows if he died when he fell or if he drowned in the rapids, but they couldn't get to his body for around 30 mins. Then they kept his body on the Island for a further 2 days before moving him to the hospital in Pakse. No body bag, no aircon and no travel buddy to identify him, oh and add flies!! An Aussie guy volunteered to stay with the body till they got it to Bangkok where it would be flown home to his perhaps unsuspecting family.
To change the subject....we also went and had a Laos massage that day. It was very cheap and quite nice - my first.
We had successfully killed time in Pakse. It's our fault really. We bought a 10 day extension on our Laos visa thinking we'd need it and then went too fast on the way down. We can't leave until the 20th which is when our Vietnam visa kicks in. There's a few things I would have liked to have done up North if we had have known about the extra time. Laos was heavily bombed by the Americans during Nixon's fight against the Viet Kong and communism. There was actually more bombs dropped on Laos during an 8 year period than on Germany during the 1st World War (I am relating these facts without guide book on hand so maybe not 100% accurate - it could be 1st & 2nd WW). The Ravens (the secret names given to the pilots during this totally secret mission involving the CIA) would bomb the Viet Kong and then had orders to return empty so they would unload over Laos. The Hoh Chi Min trail is also the site of many crazy things like agent orange that we didn't get to see.
We gratefully left Done Kong and headed via mini-van to Pakse narrowly missing a long black snake (on 2 occasions) crossing the road. Pakse was another place with not a lot to do it's more of a jump-off point for the areas we'd just been to. Our guesthouse had a TV though so we indulged again and got to watch the news about the London bombings. Pakse was really hot and made me feel like I couldn't move. We were so out of ideas for fun (killing time sucks) we agreed to go on a tour to some Ancient Khmer ruins the next day. We had previously thought about going, but decided against as we will be going to Ankor in Cambodia which will be far more magnificent. There were a few other people too that were killing time till Vietnam and we went out to a Korean BBQ restaurant with them. A hot pan is placed in the centre of your table with a cooking surface placed over it. There's a moat for soup and you add vegetables and noodles to this moat whilst cooking the meat on top. Such fun! Then we found a nice beer garden to kill some more time