I last posted while in Vien Vieng, and I heard that as the Mekong was running low and slow, the tubing trip down it would be a little boring, I therefore decided to give it a miss. Instead, I climbed a hill, which felt like a mountain and endured a massive thunderstorm at the top, making the descent difficult to say the least. Continuing South, I then visited Vietviane, the capitol of Laos which is pretty much like any large city, we went to visit the Great Sacred Stupa (Pa That Luang), a large gold covered Buddhist monument in the centre of the city, built in 1560, which is regarded as the most important national monument in Laos, we then visited Patuxai, Lao’s answer to Paris’s L’Arc de Triumph before checking in to the hotel. What stood out for me there, was the Discovery Laos meal I had, it was a true taste of Lao food according our guide, Khamla (La).
I then went from the large city to stay in a village of 500 families in Kong Lor, staying in small traditional built bungalows, while there, I took a boat trip through a 7 km river in a cave under another mountain, after our return through the mountain it was great to swim in the pool at the base of the cliffs, the setting was like something out of a movie set. Unfortunately Oggy cut his foot on the rocks at the pool and had to visit the medical centre in the village.
After another long day travelling over pretty poor roads to Savannakhet, a new stop on the Stray route, we arrived there and our first stop after checking in to the hotel, was to take Oggy to the local hospital, the cut on his foot wasn’t healing so he ended up with a few stiches, a tetanus jab and some antibiotics, I doubt I will ever complain about the NHS again, however the level of care and attention he received was excellent and could not be faulted, but the facilities were dreadful.
After dinner we all went down to the riverfront to see the End of Lent festival, as it was a bigger city, the crowds were massive and we found it difficult to move through them, we eventually gave up and returned to the hotel, getting back was great fun, we all managed to get onto one tuk-tuk, 15 of us, including the driver, speeding through the night to the delight of the locals who saw us.
The next morning we took a long drive to Pakse, we stopped for lunch then booked into the hotel, before heading to the stunning Tad Ngeuang waterfall, another place of beauty with a nice pool to swim in. We then headed into the Bolaven Plateau, where Laos’ main export of coffee is grown, the landscape was very different to the other areas we had visited.
We then returned to Pakse and our hotel for a quick freshing up before going out for dinner, we all then went to a rooftop bar for views of the city at the end of the day.
A fairy early start this morning, for a fairly short drive to the port for the boat trip to Don Set, one of the islands in the area know as 4000 islands.
We checked into the Le Petit guesthouse and had a look at the village before having lunch.
In the afternoon six of us, Cairan and Emma, Simon, Shane, Carl and I decided to go on a kayaking trip down the Mekong. It was great fun, especially shooting the rapid sections and trying to avoid the many bushes blocking our way. There were also few mishaps along the way, a couple of capsizes, but we all got home safely if not a wee bit wet. We all agreed that this was one of the highlights of our trip so far, in addition to the kayaking, we took a boat trip to an area where we saw some rare Irawdy dolphins, visited a nice waterfall and had a 45 minute bumpy tuk-tuk trip back to the village.
A quick shower and a wee rest set me up for the evening, where we all had dinner and a few drinks as we said farewell to the 7 hopping off to spend more time on the islands on what was our last night in Laos.