Don Det to Vientiane - feeling very chilled out
Trip Start Jun 15, 2007
74Trip End Jun 27, 2008
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We left Don Det feeling very very chilled out and set off by boat to Nakasang (nearest harbour), then it was journey by mini bus to Pakse. We got to Pakse around 2pm and had to wait for the overnight bus at 8pm. Pakse is the sort of place where there is not a lot to do, so it was time to engage in some serious time killing exercises that we have become accustomed to. Cards, dice, Pass the Pigs, reading, sleeping, DVD's. Before we knew what was happening it was 8pm and we were boarding the campest bus in the world to Vientiane.
I have to say that in all the places we have travelled, Laos provides the best buses. These were the 'VIP' buses and for 18 dollars (about 9 quid) we got first rate service. Downstairs on the bus were the beds for the 'real VIPs'. Upstairs, where the pretend VIPS went, were fully reclining seats with lots of leg room. Only two things spoilt this journey. One, the ongoing regional obsession with karaoke blaring out of the speakers. And two, the fact that we were seated next to the loudest snoring man in the whole world. I could even hear his snoring through my headphones with Bros playing at full volume.
At 6am the next morning we arrive in Vientiane, feeling as we always do after these over-night journeys. I camped in the nearest coffee house while Nic and Jess went searching for accommodation. Not to long later they come back with a nice place to stay and we check in. Nic decides to stay in the room, have a shower and get some sleep.
Now before I go on, let me explain that whilst in Don Det it become apparent that we would have to do a flying visit of Laos as Nic's medication that she takes to dullen the fact that she has to co-exist with me on a daily basis was coming to an end. We had it on good authority that Thailand has excellent medical facilities so we made the decision to only stop off at the 'main' spots in Laos and hot foot it into Thailand. I made a mental note to myself that I would return to Laos in the future as there were a couple of places we would have to miss out that were on the 'to do' list.
So with all that in mind we knew we would not be staying long in Vientiane. As a result Jess and I decided to go exploring and headed for the Buddha Park outside of town. All we knew is that it was a collection of statues of many gods from different religions and that it was a little bit out of the city centre.
So off we went in search of a bank (not as easy as it sounds in Laos) and then to get a tuc tuc. We should have been wary when we approached the tuc tuc driver as he was connecting his brakes together. We officially caught the slowest, rubbishest, most uncomfortablest tuc tuc in the world. The Buddha Park was 28km out of town!! Had I known that I would have chosen my carriage a little better. It became a little too much when we realised that the can of 'water' situated in the back, sploshing all over Jess' legs (who is a smoker) wasn't a can of water but the petrol can. One way to stop your passengers from smoking I guess.
We arrived at the Buddha Park, shaken and highly flammable and spent an hour looking at the most random, weird collection of statues imaginable. There was a big dome thingy with depictions of hell inside and then there were many other statues.....why am I bothering? Everyone knows by now I have the attention span of a newt. It was very interesting though. And random.
At the park we did get our first sight of Thailand though as Vientiane is literally across the river from Thailand. We saw Friendship Pass bridge and customs to cross it. Very exciting to know this would be our next destination.
Then it was time to head back to the hotel (unfortunately in the same tuc tuc), and go for dinner. But not before Nic and Jess went off for a nice relaxing message.
Next day, and it was a day of mooching around, saying good-bye to Jess, eating German sausages in a nice hotel and taking in the sights.
Vientiane is a very small capital city with not a great deal to do (or at least on the surface of it). Being so close to Thailand we did get our first sightings of the legendary lady boys. We saw a couple in an internet cafe and then a few more on the streets. Also, prostitutes and rent boys seemed more evident here than anywhere else we had been. Our hotel seemed to be the place that all the guests brought their 'dates' back to as there were a couple of arguments between the staff, the guests and the ladies/boys/mixture of the night.
All in all, made for an interesting night.