21.08.2009 - 25.08.2009 35 °C
When crossing the land border from Cambodia, there is no public transport whatsoever on the Laos side, so I arrived in Nakasang, the next village on the back of a scooter. On the Mekong there are the famous 4000 islands, or Si Phan Don. I saw some tourists going over and decided I would stay on the river bank. I found the one Guest House in Nakasang and went on a stroll along the riverbank to ask for boats that would go upstream (I had not completely given up on the idea yet). There were no boats, but I got invited by some locals to drink beer with them. Beerlao for the Laotians is the equivalent of the Angkor Wat for the Cambodians or the King for the Thai. They're tremendously proud of it, and in all fairness it's really good. During the 70's some Czechoslovakian brewers came to Viet-Nam in the scope of an inter-communist exchange program, and from there the know-how has spread to neighboring communist countries. Anyway, we spent a long time drinking, singing karaoke and dancing, when shortly before sunset the matriarch of the house kicked me out. While walking back I realized that there was nearly nobody left outside. Everybody was home and it was not even 7pm yet! With a lot of difficulty I managed to find some soup in the market so as not to go to sleep hungry. The guy who sold me the soup joined me and we drank a lot of Laolao, some kind of local rice-liquor. All in all a weird but funny evening.
Don Sout, one of the many islands on the Mekong in Si Phan Don.
The next morning I discovered there are boats that go upstream, but these are boats specifically for tourists with rows of seats and not much else in term of space. This is not my idea of a good time, so I decided to hitch-hike north instead. A guy on a scooter deposited me on the big road that runs north along the Mekong and that is responsible for the disappearance of all the little boats on the Mekong.
A laotian family picked me up and drove me to Pakse, the small city where I stayed one night. They were transporting fish on the back of their pick-up, and despite my careful placing of my backpack, it smelled of fish for 3 days afterwards.
Pakse, a typical South Laos town. One big road in the middle and not much else.
From Pakse I took the bus to Ka Taek. I liked this small wild market where the bus stopped for a while. They were selling grilled crickets, squirrel and other small rodents.
From Ka Taek I hitch-hiked to Vientiane. I was picked up by an American Laotian who was back in the country after 30 years to help build an English school. Good guy.
These are views of the Mekong between Ka Taek and Vientiane.
We made a stop at this temple for a quick prayer and donation (both done mostly by him...)