Thursday, July 21, 2011

Adventures to the Laos border

Hello! (its jason posting this time)
We got up the next morning in ratanakiri, ready for our adventure to Laos. After a delicious breakfast of eggs and baguettes, we paid our bill, and boarded our bus. Again they tried to convince me to sit in the third row of a minibus. for those of you who are not 6'6" let me fill you in... this is an impossible task as my legs are so long they literally take up two seats because i have to sit sideways. after a few minutes of hand gestures to show im too tall they finally got it and let me sit in the second row, unfortunately lila gets carsick and was stuck in the third row.. oy vey. so as we head out from town we picked up more people. and more people. and more people. until a 14 person minibus was holding about 24. rows of 3 seats now held 4-5. the front two seats, including the drivers seat, now held 2, and there was a guy on the floor in the front. luckily it was only a 2 hour busride until we stopped in stung truang, our hub before the last bus to the border. lila had to sit next to man whose breathe she described as death. he smoked and maybe hadnt brushed his teeth, ever.. gross..

we got on another minibus that was full but not as crazy as the first and headed off towards the border. let me remind you that these are not just transportation vehicles but also the fedex of laos as we stopped at multiple countryside residences to drop off chairs, scrap metal, rice, fruit, and to pick up money. finally we reached the border... and got ripped off again. luckily only 15 total this time. i guess it takes twice to realize we cant do borders the right way.

we made it across, got on our third mini bus, arrived at the port soon after and hopped onto a rickity, 2 person wide wooden boat with a small motor. this boat took us across the giant mekong river to an area known as si phan don (aka: 4000 islands). we got dropped off on our island, don khon, which we were told is a quieter island with les backpackers. we found a room, got som food, caught up on some reading, got more food, relaxed in our hammocks after realizing there was literally no nightlife and passed out.

we got up the next day and rented bikes to ride around our island and don det, and island next door connnected by a bridge. we biked our island first, finding a huge waterfall, which was more like heavy rapids but really cool because we had never really seen a river this wide, it was massive! we ventured onto a path in the woods and than got some cold water and a coconut to cool down, it was brutally hot.

we headed off to the beach area which was again on the muddy river, we swam and lila got detroyed by a few fireants on the beach. after watching some french kid play fight and turn into shoving sand in each others mouths and watching one pretend to gag and puke in the water we headed for lunch on don det.

we rode down a road in between rice paddies with the midday sun, HOT!, beating down on us for 4 km and came to paradise restaurant. after some amaaaziing pumpkin burger and pumkin potato curry we rode around the island and ended up at a bar with some backpackers around happy hour and sat down for a few beers.

we played some pool and met 3 guys from holland. after some beers and interesting cocktails of laolao(local whiskey)honey lime and sugar we headed back on the pitch black unlit road to our island. after an hour of walking our bikes we made it back, bought some bus tickets and went to bed.

we got up the next day to get breakfast. hopped on a boat that took us to the port. got on our first unpacked minibus and headed for savannakhet. we stoppped and got onto a big bus around 3 for the last leg of our trip. we ended up dropped off 30km away from savanakhet and the last minibus wanted us to pay. this is bogus because our ticket was all the way to savannakhe... apparently not. after dealing with the first obnoxious locals we had met in a long time we finally got on the bus and they took us to our destination, sort of. yet another scam... instead of dropping us at our guesthouse like every other minibus had done before, they stopped at the bus station and toldus to take a tuk tuk, for another $3 to our hostel. while not a lot of money, its annoying to get scammed like this. after yelling and calling them all sorts of names they didnt understand i decided to pay and not risk getting a knife pulled on me in the middle of nowhere laos. we walked to town as to not support the scam tuk tuk.

we landed in a bar where we got some food. the bus we took didnt stop for 6 hours which is funny because every other bus we had been on stops about every 2 hours for food... you think we eat a lot? the locals eat more!

at this bar they told us ou guesthouse was far and a young guy offered us a ride for free. we hopped in the truck and got a ride only to find out it was closed. they found us another thuogh and as we pulled up, the guy in the passenger seat ran out into pouring rain twice to see if they had a room for us and how much, another act of ridiculous kindness. we stayed the night and got up yesterday to walk around town.

savannakhet is a nice, quiet small town. we saw 3 temples, a small dinosaur museum, got really delicious food and just wandered around all day, the city cant take more than maybe 5 hours to see the entire thing. we spent the night relaxing and watching movies on tv.

we slept in and are just having fun today.. checking out the local casino, getting massages, going to a lonely planet "certified" restaurant for dinner and running some errands before we take the night bus to viantiene, the capital of laos. after vientiene we head to vang vieng for climbing, kayaking, and tubing, and than to the beautiful city of luang prabong.

much love and big smiles from asia,

...Lila says hi too

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