Saturday, 18 August 2012

Asian Adventure - Savannakhet, Laos

Twenty Four hours in Lao People's Democratic Republic

At the end of the previous post I was in no man's land between Thailand and Laos. Upon reaching the Laos border control we had to retrieve our luggage from the coach to go through customs and go and get a visa.  After 5 minutes of no one in the kiosk we finally found the men having lunch next door. They were a bit cross that we hadn't brought photos with us but they let us in anyway. (The visa was about £30 each). We then had to go to passport control and get our passports stamped this cost 20baht each. Then it was back on the coach and into Laos. 

The shores of Laos
The first thing that happened was that I got a text from my phone network to say that I had entered a country where I would be unable to receive or make calls but I could still text. Following that we pulled up at the bus station and immediately purchased our bus ticket to Vietnam for the next morning. This made me rest easy because I was desperate for us to catch the bus to Vietnam on the Monday morning.

I hadn't booked a hotel in Laos as I wasn't sure if we were going to stay there overnight. So we grabbed a tuktuk and headed into town. Being a Sunday it was deserted, possibly because Laos has a Catholic community (it was an old French colony at one point).

Lao tuktuk

Catholic Church in Savannakhet
I had read that Vietnam bus tickets could be purchased at the Savanbanhao Hotel and although we had our tickets from the bus station, we decided to try the hotel anyway. As it happened the tourist office was shut, but they did have a room, it was basic but clean and very cheap - about £10.

Savanbanhao Hotel
Before my holiday I tried to get some Laos KIPs but it is a closed currency and you can't get them in the UK. Luckily they accept Thai Bahts in Savannakhet but give you change in KIPS.

Our friend in Mukdakan had told us of a very nice pizza restaurant with a giant penguin outside, so we set off in search and found it and very nice it was too:)


The next morning we headed off back to the bus station in a tuktuk.
Monday morning in Laos.
It was vitally important that we caught the bus to Vietnam on the Monday morning, otherwise we would miss our train connection in Hue at 7pm and subsequently miss the first night of our hotel in Ho Chi Minh City. Everything seemed to hang on this bus ...

I was pleased to discover that we were leaving at 9am instead of 10am, as I didn't want to miss the 7pm train. 

The bus from Savannakhet to Hue


The most ironic sign ever....... but we left as promised at 9am. 
We soon discovered that the roads were quite bad in Laos. Not so much pot holes as pot craters: (This made the journey very slow and I could now see why we had left an hour earlier than my Internet research had informed me.)



Still much of the scenery was pretty.


Sadly the bus broke down four times in Laos, our lovely young lad of a driver managed to get the bus going each time, but half an hour here and there was ticking away ........


This is the area in Laos that would have been the Ho Chi Minh Trail during the Vietnam War. 

Finally - the border ......... First we went through the Lao exit border, which cost us $2 each. This involved everyone from the coach crowding round a window and waving their passports in the air - which in turn were taken behind the counter in a massive pile and stamped - oh so slowly - and then returned to us. Then we had to walk through no man's land to the Vietnam passport control. 
Did we make the connection in Hue? You'll have to tune in next time to find out:)

2 comments:

  1. What an amazing adventure. Thank you for taking us along.
    Carol xx

    ReplyDelete

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