Jun 03, 2010
Mar 29, 2011
. After this things speeded up a little bit but continued to be very much stop/start. The road signs suggested that the speed limt alternated between 30 and 50 but the latter was nothing but a dream for this old crate. I christened it the worst bus in Laos but to be fair I guess it had some pretty serious competetion !! By 11:00 I am bursting to go to the toilet but needn't have worried. The driver happily stopped at the side of the road and almost the entire bus emptied with everyone, male/female, young/old joining me in relieving themselves on the grass verge besides the road as traffic drove past. When we travelled north from Savan last year we noticed the almost complete absence of rice fields but travelling south they are everywhere. They also appear to still be worked by buffalo with their mechanised replacement very scarce. There must have been lots of rain here recently as the flooding is extensive. We finally reach the Northern Bus Terminal at Pakse at about 14:00, not too bad I guess, and take a shared songthaew into town where we are first dropped off at the Narine Tachalerm Hotel. It looks quite pleasant and the room is nice so we check-in for the night. Go out for a walk around and visit Wat Than Fai on a large roundabout on the edge of town before stopping to sample some Laos coffee - very strong - on our way back. At about 18:00 we head out again and go to the Pakse Hotel which has a rooftop bar on the 7th floor with apparently good views of the surroundings. The sky is black and thunder is rumbling with lightning in the distance. Unsurprisingly the roof top bar will not be opening tonight but we are allowed to go up to the roof for a look around - briefly, before the heavens open up. Walking back to the hotel we stop at an Indian restaurant called Nazims - who have a a Nepali chef - for a curry and Beer Lao before hurrying back to the hotel in a very brief almost rain free moment.
Up with the alarm at 05:30 and after buying a couple of baguettes, koki they call them here apparently, we took a skylab to the bus station meaning to take a bus towards the Vietnam border stopping at Xepon. It had rained most of the night again, the forecast wasnt good and it had just started raining heavily. At the last minute we changed our minds and instead of heading into the mountains we took a bus to the south and Pakse. Our bus had seen better days but left on time at 07:00. Unfortunately that was where the sticking to schedule finished. We set off going north which I thought was a bit odd but then started making house by house pick ups of people and cargo before turning around and heading back into Savan where we continued to pick people up all over the place. Consequently it was 08:00 before we finally left town. 2 hours later I spotted a road sign that indicated we had travelled 50 of the 240km distance so the estimate of 4-6 hours to Pakse seemed a total fiction. Then we stopped for everyone to get something to eat and we fell further behind schedule