Don Khong and the long trek north

Trip Start Sep 19, 2010
Trip End Sep 19, 2011

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Where I stayed
Pon's guest house

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

11th November.
   After being dumped on the roadside by our bus, we figured out that we were expected to walk the last Kilometer to the boat landing. Thank God we bought backpacks as this last Kilometer was down a dusty track!! After paying the ferry man $1 each we were quickly transported across the Mekong to the Island Don Khong. This section of the Mekong is called 4000 Islands and is supposed to be a great place for relaxing and hanging out. So we promptly picked an Island were I wouldn't have to hang out with other travelers!! Not that there is many in these parts.
  We picked a lovely little guest house called Pon's. Pon's is situated right next to the river bank and has great views, a snip at 7.5 a night. The Island itself measures about 12 Miles long by about 7 miles wide so it is quite large. There is about 10 guest houses on the Island and are all pretty much on the same dirt track, as for the rest of the Island it is just paddy fields and Jungle
  The next day we hired a Motorbike and took a leisurely ride around the Island, with Cathy shouting over my shoulder SLOW DOWN IT'S NOT A BLOODY RACE!! ever few minutes. The island is very rural to say the least and most of the farmers here live in little rattan huts beside there plots with no electricity. Just getting by growing rice and tending their Water Buffalo. Makes for great pictures but I wouldn't swap with them for a minute.
 On the Evenings we would eat at the guest house restaurant. I had spent days eating the local fare and I saw getting a bit sick of it. I like to eat something you can sink your teeth into and chew. With rice and local dishes you just folk it into your mouth and swallow. So one night I noticed Fish and Chips on the Menu. It read LOCAL MEKONG CAT FISH FRIED IN A BEER BATTER WITH CHIPS AND SALAD. Well it was worth the risk, if the fish was horrid I could always just eat the chips. As it Turned out I would never have guessed it wasn't Cod and the batter wasn't bad either. Just
  Laos money is called the Kip and unlike Cambodia, people would rather be paid in Kip rather than the Mighty Dollar. As with any new Country you visit it takes a couple of days to get used to new money. We saved a fair bit of money on the Island as there was nothing really to spend your money on. A bottle of beer and a packet of smokes comes to just under a Pound.
   Three nights on the Island was enough, so it was time to move on. But being here means your about 15 hours by road to anywhere worth being, if you get my gist? Most people get a bus to a town called Pakse. This gets in about 3PM and you have to hang around till 8PM to catch the V.I.P. bus to Vientaine. This bus gets you into Vientaine at around 6 AM the next morning. We did not like the sound of this and decided to make the journey in stages using local buses. This turned out to be a real bad decision!!!!!!
 The first stage was getting to Pakse. This took about 4 hours on a mini bus with other tourists. It should have taken 2.5 hours by the way. So far so good. That night we stayed in a hotel in town. The second stage was getting to Savannakhet. Here we took a local bus. After climbing over the motorbike in the aisle, we found a place to sit. This was about 9 AM. Now local buses stop anywhere and everywhere, they are not express buses!! As the morning dragged on the bus filled up. When all the seats are taken they hand out stools to any new comers and they sit in the aisle on their stool. In this way you can fit another 15 people on!!! These local buses also double up as lorries. Taking things like 20 sacks of rice to the next town or Motorbikes in the aisle!! The next day we took a consignment of hardwood doors right up country. Anyway we got to Savannakhet at 4PM. We quickly found a cheap guest house and went for a wander around town. Savannakhet is yet another town on the banks of the Mekong. It had a very faded French colonial feel about it. Not much else it has to be said. Third stage was Savannakhet to Vientaine. This took from 9AM to 8PM the most grueling yet. The bus was packed to the rafters all the way. The only saving grace was we had a seat and not a stool. The toilet stops were a laugh. We stopped by a forest and everybody got out and picked their tree, all 50 or so of us. Except Cathy that is, she can and will go all day without having to go. I don't know how she does it!! We can sit back now and laugh about that few days, but I promise you I was not laughing at the time.
  I am writing this blog in the lobby of our hotel in Vientaine waiting for the overnight V.I.P bus to Luang Prabang, once bitten twice shy Eh?? 
 The reason for no pictures at the moment is because Laos has the slowest internet in the world it seems. As soon as I can upload pictures I will do so.
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trish and john on

Dont make me cry,so funny, men and speed on them fast scooters ruff ride (cath) be safe. sounds very remote and in the sticks.cath you should have brought a she wee so handy in situations like that, don't give up the blogs I'm having this trip with you.

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