A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: GavandJen

STUCK IN LAOS

So we haven't typed for a while - we've been busy getting stuck in / into Laos!

sunny 30 °C

A couple of friends have commented that we have been quite quiet for a while but we have just been busy getting into Laos life!

We wrote about Champasak (a long time ago)
Well next came...

Pakse
Unfortunately Pakse wasn't the smooth ride through the land of bliss we had already come to expect.
When we were there in mid December they had a "little" event in the newly built sports stadium called the Champasak games.

It is basically the Laos version of the Olympics - I exaggerate not this is a BIG DEAL in Laos (Well in Pakse and maybe Champasak anyway).
The place was rammed....
After trying a few of the budget Gh's to be told each time "No room at Inn", We booked into the rather plush (and way over budget) aptly named Pakse Hotel.
"How long you want to stay?" they asked us.
"three maybe four nights" we replied
At this point the receptionist had to hold himself up on his desk to stop himself falling over with hilarity.
The next bit of the conversation summarised is "you got no chance mate you were lucky to get tonight!"
Ah S**T we think.

Gav then says he needs to lie down and spends the next few hours shivering, sweating and puking.
Worried I go out to look for a place to spend the following night as if Gav doesn't get better we will be stuck in the oversized Olympic village.
We spend the following night with Gav still poorly in another way over budget, mozzie infested, supremely uncomfortable 'colonial hotel'.
The next day Gav is just about well enough to travel and we decide to get the night bus and hotfoot it out that place.
I have got a
lot more to say about Pakse but not much of it would be good so I won't bore you....

AH THE NIGHT BUS!
The night bus felt like luxury accommodation after the colonial nutmare, clean sheets, no mozzies that was all we needed to please us. And "BONUS" 10 hours later we were in Vientiane!

Vientiane
We liked it so much we ended up visiting three times!
Its like no other capital city.
The restaurants are amazing.
The Wats are beautiful.
The locals are friendly, even the Took Took drivers.
We spent my 30th birthday there in a luxury penthouse suite!
What more do I need to say?

We decided we wanted to go to Luang Prabang over the Xmas and N.Y period - Good decision.
It quite a ride to get there.
Through mountains so steep the bus needs to be in 1st or 2nd gear (?) for most of the journey.
If you don't get travel sick and you're doing this trip take pills.
If you do get travel sick (like me) and your doing this trip take LOTS of pills then some more pills and theres a slim chance you won't spew.

Luang Prabang
A city so beautiful you could actually weep.
Ok thats overstating it a bit but it is very beautiful (apart from the open sewers!)

Posted by GavandJen 05:29 Archived in Laos Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Don Dhet and Champasak

Soooo Chilled

sunny 36 °C

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We spent six days on Don Dhet (originally intended only three).

During that time we sun bathed, sat in hammocks, ate, drank, cycled, and visited a waterfall.
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Not necessarily in that order!
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The waterfall is on the neighboring island of Don Khon.
It was really powerful when we visited and crashing over the rocks with awesome force.
After a short walk alongside the falls we came across a beach.
The sand actually glitters here and the water is crystal calm.
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You cannot swim here tho as the locals believe the water is inhabited by spirits of the dead.

Before we went to Don Dhet we were told by various traveller types that:
"it is not a fun place, it had been trashed by tourism, all you hear at night is "boom boom boom",
its as bad as vang vieng, blah, blah, blah.
We are so glad we ignored them, we loved it!

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After our Zen time on DD we took a short trip to Champasak.
Again it is very beautiful and chilled (notice a theme forming?)

'Champasak in rush hour!'
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From there you can visit a site of temple ruins called Vat Phou (wats are vats in Laos!?*).
It is in the Angkor style and is set into a mountain.

We thought that we might have been 'templed out' after our time at Angkor Wat but we really enjoyed this one.
The sight is begun by two big 'lakes', you have to walk up hundreds of steps to reach the actual temple
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but once up there wow!

The view is amazing of the mountains either side and Champasak itself.
There is a sacred stream running through the cliff face.
The whole site has an atmosphere of serenity and peace.

Enough words you can see the picture....
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Posted by GavandJen 02:40 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

Crossing from Cambodia to Laos

Oh Don Dhet

sunny 34 °C

We spent a couple of days in Kratie close to the northern Cambodia border.
The sunsets there are some of the most beautiful we have seen.

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The town itself is very quiet,
everybody you meet wants to take you to see the Irrawaddy Dolphins.
They are very rare and apparently very shy so you won't see much of them??

We decided to head to Laos a day early so we booked a package trip across the border to Don Dhet (3rd Dec).
The crossing itself was uneventful apart from being held hostage at a crappy "restaurant" in Stung Treng (near Camb border) for FOUR HOURS.
We are sure that it was so we would but their food and change our money there (for a pathetic exchange rate).
No we are not just being paranoid - everyone on the trip agreed!

Once we paid our bribes and crossed the border the trip to Don Dhet was really chilled and really beautiful.
Aside from when the mini bus driver ran over a chickens head (yuk) (He didn't even stop).

It took a short boat ride to the actual island, which is in the four thousand islands.
Then there we were for the most chilled out few days of our lives.
We even lost a night (6 not 5)!!!

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Posted by GavandJen 02:19 Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Bokor Hill Station - Kampot

Muddy feet

all seasons in one day

Kampot is a beautiful chilled out river side town.

One of the main tourist attractions has been Bokor Hill station.
The station is on Bokor mountain (funnily enough).
It is basically a ghost town which hasn't been inhabited since the 70's.
At the moment they are building a new road up the side of the mountain with plans to redevelop the station.

There is an old palace there - the former weekend pad of King Sihanouk.
There is a once plush, now ruined hotel and Casino
(Soon to be renovated back to 5 star luxury in 1920's style).

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There is also a church and a water tower that really does look like a UFO.

The trip involves a short drive up to the ranger station at the foot of the mountain.
Then the ranger takes you half way up and you trek for an hour before reaching the 'black palace'.

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Me being me, I was totally unprepared for the trek (the tour tout said - "its a little steep, mostly flat").
After a fourty minute trek (read stumble for Jen) through 'dense', rugged, rocky and STEEP jungle.
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We emerged onto the new road and I walked straight into freshly churned up, calf deep orange mud.
Cursing like a trooper (maybe our guide still hasn't recovered from my language) I took another step into an even deeper bit. Gav had to pull me out (he cursed a fair bit too) (and he washed my sandals for me).

The rest of the hike involved me slipping around on my squishy muddied tevas while we got further and further behind the rest of the group (no they didn't wait!)
Typing this four days later my toe nails are still orange!

It was so worth it tho. The deserted town is completely unique (we think).
The whole place is covered in furry flouro orange litchen.
(I hope thats not whats growing on my toe nails.)
The place really is super spooky.
This feeling of eerieness is added to by the knowledge that the holes in some of the buildings are from bullets where the Vienamese and Khmer Rouge had a shoot out.

The owner of our guest house told us that they used to have raves up here, until two body guards fell out and it ended nasty.
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Part of the trip was to a waterfall (called Popokivil) which was sadly blighted by foamy stuff.
This didn't put me off washing my feet here tho!!!!

Posted by GavandJen 05:22 Archived in Cambodia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Bon om Tuk

Cambodian water festival - Boat races!

We were in Siem Reap for Bon Om Tuk
- the water festival on the 11th - 13th Nov.

It is celebrated in a much bigger way in Phnom Pen when the capital quadruples in size.
The festival in Siem Reap we loads of fun never the less!

There are hundreds of boat races over the three days and each team has a 'base' which is a float decorated in carnival type scenes and colours.

The best bit for me was the river side food stalls (of course). Some were transient and we descovered Cambodian doughnuts, a bit like a toasted pitta bread but sweet with seasame seeds (sorry Alice) - Divine.

There was also baguettes filled with anything from noodles to lardy pork!

On the second night everybody sends a small decorated floating candle down the river, it looked really beautiful and Khmer children leapt in after some of them to give their family's or friends float a helping hand.

Posted by GavandJen 05:06 Archived in Cambodia Tagged boating Comments (0)

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