Return to civilisation...in Laos
Only our adventures were just beginning, we waited 2 hours to ‘check in’ as our room wasn’t ready. In hindsight I think that was a sign. However, we finally got into our room and I started the shower….only to find 10min later the hot water didn’t work. After waiting for 10min - ‘maybe someone come fix’ as the staff put it, I came down and demanded another room. Ok then, hot water works but air con and lights are broken. Hmm.
Finally we had to actually march into the managers office who showed us a deluxe room. We tested the hot water, air con and lights, once we received a resounding yes on the operational functionality of these we took it.
What a trial!
We rewarded ourselves with dinner, trying the famous or infamous Mekong river weed! Seaweed with sesame crispy fried. Amazingly delicious.
Caught the VIP bus to Pakse. Trust me it was VIP. From the fluffy lined tv, to the 10’s of 100’s of mosquitos that kept appearing, the broken AC and the dirty curtains that Im sure carried some sort of bacteria.
We got all competitive over who killed the most mosquitos (I only got 10, but the guy across from me was around the 50’s by the end of the 6 hr trip).
Not to mention that the non stop route included numerous stops to pick up locals who sat on plastic stools in the centre aisle. Safety? - Laos is all over it!
At the bus stop we saw a lady selling all sorts of herbs for various ailments and an assortment of bronze charms. Greg was particularly taken with a bronze three pronged penis charm and bought it for a friend. How thoughtful!
The island we stayed on is called Don Khon, the quieter sister of the party island Don Det. Sadly Don Det is now a tourist mecca, famous for the "Been there, Don Det" t-shirts worn by all the 18yr old backpackers holding beers cans and sporting dreads and smelly clothes, and the girls in tiny short shorts and bikinis - despite it being offensive to locals. Sadly this seemed to be in most places we visited in SE Asia despite numerous signs in English and guidebooks explaining this is inappropriate for a traditional and religious country, not to mention for the holy Buddhist temples.
Don Khon was more our style, with a tiny charming village with one street of tourist restaurants on one side and then a few settlements and houses dotted around the other sides. It is still mostly a farming community, with a few restaurants and a wonderful juice stand that also sold ice coffees with sweetened condensed milk. Heaven.
We learnt about the ‘bakong’ (dolphins) who like Cambodia waters more than Laos. There is an invisible line across the waters where the border between the countries is, and Laos fisherman seem to know exactly where it is and are willing to toe the line to see the bakong but not too much further. The dolphins jumped and were little dots in the distance on our cameras. We continued our incomprehensible Laotian conversation to the amusement of other travellers in tiny boats. (We did actually learn quite a bit, bakong = dolphins, sun = aesngtauen, beautiful = ngam, drink = laolao, boat = heu, water = nu + the other Lao was spoke, we could kind of follow his thoughts).
Mekong fish bbq was on the menu that night along with some Laolao mojitos! Party time for our last night in Laos.
Crossing the border into Cambodia
Then upon entry into Cambodia we were woefully unprepared. Unlike the friendly and fairly easygoing Laotians, Cambodia is savy and full of people who take advantage of tourism.
We were hustled into an official health check tent and charged $1 for our health check (this is a scam and you don’t need to do the health check despite the official status listed). Also their thermometer listed my temperature as 32.5degrees. I’m guessing it was broken.
Then Visas. Uh huh. We were hoping there was an ATM - alas it was like a border in some old wild west film, middle of no where. A few palm tree huts, and an official visa office of wooden slats and a guy with a uniform and a stamp. No ATM, no card facilities, oh and no electricity.
Once we’d sorted out visas and met our ‘guide' we were then plunked onto our air con, private mini bus transport with wifi - what we’d booked.
However we got a huge bus, with open window (air con cambodia style) and broken seats. Wifi but a distant dream.
Turns out our supposed guide had transferred us onto a different bus and pocketed the money. Good times.
Bus ride in hell (the heat) for 6 hours didn’t improve things then they dropped us off 6km from Siem Reap in a darkened carpark at 9pm.
Welcome to cambodia folks. Dont mind everyone trying to rip you off and take your money from you.
Oh and don’t forget the police will take bribes too!
Have a nice time!
Next up is our adventures in Siem Reap & Angkor Wat!
Till next time
Jade & Greg
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