It was a sad decision to make to leave my teepee and the island, but I knew if I didn’t go today I’d be here for another week and miss out on other stuff I wanted to do.
I was awake unnecessarily early, but it did mean I could pack my rucksack in the cool of the morning, have a leisurely breakfast and finish my book!
Highlights of the morning were the amazing coffee, shower, sat with John trying to work out the exchange rate of kip to $ and then getting a ride on his motorbike to the boat and even better passing the others walking with their rucksacks!
There were loads of people waiting to get a boat back to the mainland, all to catch the 11:30 buses out of town. There was a seemingly random system of ticket checking with people either being ignored, sent to specific boats even though they all looked the same or made to wait.
I was in the ignored category, but then we moved across to the smaller boats, formed a queue, all separated into more identical boats, apart from me who after he saw i had my ticket from ‘Mr John’ was told stand to one side and wait….. Eventually once everyone was on board I showed him my ticket again and after reconfirming Mr John, I was allowed on a little boat……
After all the organisation my boat was the first to leave, maybe I was getting extra special treatment, last on boat, first to disembark? I’ll never know!!
We got safely to the mainland and after a brief walk to the buses were bundled on and then made to wait while we sweated and slowly melted into our seats.
From our border crossing, myself, Nicola (from UK working in Bangkok), Andrew (Melbourne), Nick (UK) and Eline (Holland) all were travelling together to Pakse. Nick and Nicola were heading straight to Vientiane that night on the night bus and the rest of us wanted to do ‘The Loop’ a 2/3 day trip on motorbikes around the Bolaven Plateau. John had kindly recommended a place to get bikes from as they also gave you a great map and introduction to the route.
So we reached Pakse in the late afternoon and it was raining!!!! It was cold and wet and we wanted to get a into town to find somewhere to stay. We said our goodbyes to Nick as he wanted to get his ticket sorted and we got into a mini-sõrngtãaou and after some negotiation on price headed to a variety of guesthouses trying to find one with some space.
Eventually we ended up in the one, Langkham Hotel, 2 doors down from the bike place John recommended, Miss Noy’s, I think…. We popped in to see how it worked, but were asked to return around 7 for a proper briefing. But I’d already found my bike – Vera’s SE Asian cousin
By now it had stopped raining, so with time to spend we went to a wander around town, over the river and back, found a market and bought what I hoped was bamboo with sticky rice cooked inside it, but it turned out to be sugar cane, so not exactly the end of the world!
After searching the market for some emergency ponchos in case of rain the following day, and failing, we headed to the friendship minimart across the road from the hotel and failed there too, unless we wanted to splash out on a poncho for ourselves and the bikes!
We went for dinner at what looked like quite a fancy place, but the food was cheap and delicious, I had Laos spicy noodles, not sure what made them Laos, but they were spicy!
We headed for our bike chat at Miss Noy’s and it was great, they have a really detailed map with tips and suggestions, but don’t let you take it until you rent a bike the following day!
Our chat ended just in time to say goodbye to Nicola as she went to join Nick on the night bus. Was sad to say goodbye, but have agreed to meet up in Bangkok and go for a Turkish bath together!
Then there were 3 and on a heady mix of Beer Laos and oreos we had a pre-bed snack making a plan to be up and ready for our trip at 8am