Thursday – first land border crossing

Up stupidly early to order breakfast as the service at the Balcony Guesthouse is v slow!

Had a lovely chat with nikki while I finished packing and ate but then it was time for the bus….. Another local bus and it wasnt too cramped, at least for me, all the way to Stung Treng the last town in Cambodia before the Laos border. For the guy sat behind me he was squished in with another man and all the luggage. I was kind and offered him a tiny orange, but he declined (eventually was my roomie in Pakse!)

In Stung Treng we changed into a big bus for the border with Laos.

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Here some man got in, handed out immigration forms for us all to fill in, which I did but knowing he was going to overcharge us for the ‘convenience’ of him doing it for us, when he came around asking for money I refused and said I’d do it myself, so he insisted I gave him the forms back as they were his and ‘official’ and he told me he couldn’t guarantee the bus could wait at the other side if we were too slow etc etc, but it was obvious at least 10 of us were doing it ourselves so I felt OK!

When we reached the border we got off and headed to get our stamps out of Cambodia. Bus man had already leapt on a motorbike to beat us to it so all his passports were sorted first while we waited…. We were then charged a $2 stamping out fee…. Before moving in to get our Laos visas. Oddly at this point the bus man returned our forms to us and we were allowed to use them….. We then paid $5 less than he said our visa would be, so $35, and then an incredible further $2 to get the visa stamped so we could pass into Laos….. But it did mean I was $6 up as he’d said the in stamp would be $3!

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Not the best end to Cambodia or start to Laos, but knew it was coming…..

By this point the bus had bonded over the crossing and it was great to discover we were all off to 4000 Islands (Si Phan Don) and Don Det.

A brief bus ride to Nakasang, followed by an ATM, a walk to the Mekong and a boat trip later and we were there!

I’d already booked myself into The Last Resort which I knew was the south end of sunset side of the island. Started walking with quite a few people, I was the only one with a reservation. People found places to stay along the way of varying degrees of niceness vs price vs bathroom facilities! In the end there was myself, Nicola (who I insist should be called Sarah) and Andrew (who in my mind is called Richard) and we all walked to where in was staying – amazing – but it was fully booked so they headed back with the promise of finding me later for dinner.

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I had totally struck gold with where I was staying, the owner John was lovely, I got a little tour. He’s built it all himself and is clearly so excited and proud by it all you can’t help but love it. The shower was AMAZING and after treating myself to one I found a beer Lao and a hammock and settled for an afternoon of chatting, reading and chilling.

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About 3 hours later Nicola and Andrew called by after their walk and we headed into ‘town’ to meet the others at the Happy Bar for drinks and dinner.

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A great day and made lots of new friends. Several of us booked ourselves on a kayaking trip in the morning – waterfalls and hopefully dolphins, can’t wait!!!!

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