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Thread: Laos road trip

  1. #1
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    Laos road trip

    2nd road trip to Laos in as many months. This time it was a little different as I had my Father along for the ride along with my older brother Paul (the brains of the Laos operation) and a family friend who to keep him anonymous will be now known as Des.

    January 16 saw us make a leisurely departure for Laos (from Ubon) at around 10am after having breakfast in Ubon at Peppers (Peppers Bakery & Cafe, Ubon Ratchatani). We had a few small interruptions at Chong Mek getting our car across the border but nothing that was to much stress. We cruised across the Mekong river into the town of Pakse around 3pm.



    We checked into our hotel locally known as the white house and then set out to explore Pakse as well as filling out tummies! We quickly found a roadside shop that fulfilled us with a French loaf sandwich!


    The rest of the afternoon saw us meandering around town before catching up for dinner and a sun-downer alongside the Mekong River. On this trip I decided not to bring my camera as my wife needed it for work and Dad who is a great photographer was bringing his so for this thread you will see Laos through the eyes of my Dad instead of me.

    Here are a few random pics from day 1.

    A road side mechanical workshop.



    Locals playing Pétanque



    Some more locals.



    Looking back across the the Mekong river.



    More to come.
    Last edited by MeMock; 14-03-2010 at 10:18 AM.
    News is what someone, somewhere is trying to suppress - everything else is just advertising.

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    Someday I hope Ahh crusty french bagette ......

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    I wanna see the wood...

    Yes the french rools there are very tasty....so are the lamingtons....cannot get the lamingtons outa my head.

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    Did you find people afraid to talk? Did you feel watched or was it like seeing more of rural Issan?

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    Lovely pictures. When I visited Laos for a few hours, I had sand mites biting my feet. Did that happen to you?

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    Sorry for the lack of follow up. Days 2 - 8 are still to come!

    Sandmites? Can't say that I noticed them but I was wearing boots and jeans all the time.

    People are certainly more hesitant to talk then in rural Thailand. Feel watched? No.

    The wood is coming nawty!

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    Bright and early the next morning we set off towards the Bolaven Plateau and the town of Paksong. First stop was the farm of Delta Coffee which is where Peppers buys all their great coffee from.

    Although no one was there we had organised our visit ahead of time. We had a good look around the farm, this being the first time I had ever seen coffee plants up close.



    We had a look around the sheds as well and discovered all kinds of equipment.



    Down the hill a little we were delighted to find a pristine looking stream and much to my Dads delight a working mini hydro plant.


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    fter spending over an hour there we heading back into the township of Paksong where I wanted Dad and Des who, how shall we put this nicely.... are addicted to coffee, to meet a man by the name of Coffee and indulge in what he does best, drink and talk about coffee! Unfortunately he wasn't home so we pushed on.
    Apart from coffee the other major reason for travelling around the Bolaven Plateau was to check out a few Agarwood plantations. We came across one major place which had some good looking trees but the rest were just a few scattered here and there. Before we saw any though we stopped and had a look at coffee beans drying on the side of the road.



    As well as this nice waterfall. The car park was full of tour buses from Thailand and people were everywhere but it was still a nice place to stop and stretch the legs





    I saw this interesting sign in one of the car parks.



    It was then time to find some lunch (and coffee!) Not much luck on the coffee front (this was a trend that was to follow for most of the trip much to their disappointment!) Lunch was also interesting in this small village that we stopped at. A lot of things looked promising but failed to deliver while there were also a few pleasant surprises as well. Whilst there we met an American man who was riding around on his motorbike. Thankfully he had a map as the road we had planned to head back to Pakse on we found out was a lot further then we thought as well as being in very bad condition. It would have seen us arriving home well after dark. He also told us of another waterfall which was only a few kms away which we decided to go and see.



    This place was much quieter as well as being a better waterfall to look at and we enjoyed our time here.

    From there we drove straight back to Pakse arriving just before sunset. Outside the hotel we saw the aftermath of an accident which Dad took a few photos of.



    I really love the second one that he took. Notice the bike coming out of the side street? Five people on board, no helmets and not concerned about the policeman (getting off his motorbike)at all!



    That night we met up with some friends of mine for dinner who live in Pakse and are currently setting up a Cafe/Bakery to help train up locals by giving them skills in English, cooking, cleaning, business management, customer service etc etc. It is a great project and I will follow it with interest. Next time I go over there I plan to take some photos and publish more about what they are doing exactly.

    After dinner we went and had a look at their business premises before walking back to the hotel for a much needed sleep!

    Day Three, Pakse to Thakhek, coming soon.

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    to meet a man by the name of Coffee and indulge in what he does best, drink and talk about coffee! Unfortunately he wasn't home so we pushed on.
    MeMock, that was realy bad luck, I spent 29 days per month in Paksong and spend only 2 days in Ubon Ratchatani to do my shopping.... And that day you liked to visit me. I'm sure that the next time when you are in Paksong you will find me at home

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    Next time might not be to far away mate so I look forward to it. When you are next in Ubon I hope you have a little spare time to drop into the shop for a coffee MeMock style!

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    Last weekend from the month I'm in Thailand, thats around the 27th.
    Dont know why my skype icon is offline, but I'm always online.
    Is it next to the airport ?

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    Yes mate, opposite the entrance to the airforce base.

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    Do they grow decaff ?

    Nice waterfalls.

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    Great thread and comments. Thanks, MM

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    Hmmm, I really should finish my Laos thread.
    Great pics, got any more?

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    Yeah, at least another 6 days worth, just a matter of finding the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MeMock
    Yeah, at least another 6 days worth, just a matter of finding the time.
    Lao Lao ...(if you'll excuse the pun)

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    Your excused Klongy *groan*

    Day 3.

    We were on the road by 8am and struck trouble within the first 200 metres! I thought I would try a different route out of Pakse this time and took the bridge instead of going around. Little did I know that the bridge was one-way and by the time I reached it a swarm of mosquitos were bearing down on me. These mozzies took the shapes of Hondas and Yamahas and there also seemed to be a queen mozzie who was flapping his arms and blowing a whistle. I was about to experience my first dealings with the police, Laos style.

    I quickly reversed out of the way then walked over to where I was being summonsed to - the police box. What proceeded was quite a laugh. For maybe five minues or more we joked about how I hadn't seen the traffic lights, what I was doing, where I was going, the weather, how many people were driving past at that moment breaking the law before eventually the fine got mentioned. He was adamant that I should pay 400 baht but after I explained that that was expensive even for Thailand and in my best accountant voice explained the GDP of both countries and why a Laos fine should be cheaper then a Thai one he eventually agreed upon 200 baht ($7 AUD) (still too much) and we were free to go.

    This is me at the police box.



    We proceeded on unsure how far we were going to get that day. We bypassed Savannakhet and made tracks for Tha Khaek.
    This part of Laos is very boring and dusty rice fields were the order of the day apart from one 30km stretch about an hour north of Pakse where they obviously have access to water all your round and a second rice crop for the season was well underway.



    even years ago on one of Dad's trips to visit us in Thailand he came across grilled rat for sale in a local market. He turned his nose up then but decided on this trip he was going to be brave and wanted to at least try one. We went back to that same market and many others in Thailand but never saw any so I was hoping to find him one is Laos. Just before the bypass road past Savannakhet there are dozens and dozens of women all trying to sell meat on a stick. You pull up and are besieged by at least ten of them all thrusting various tempting and not so tempting meat snacks in your face.



    Unfortunately they had only Pork and Chicken, Rat it seems was not available that day. As a result we had to stop a little way down the road where we had too much food at a tiny little roadside restaurant. Whilst eating we marvelled at the sugar cane trucks rolling slowly by. We caught up with them on the road very quickly after lunch.



    As you travel from province to province in Laos you will pass through a toll gate like this one.



    Last year the toll was 2,000 kip which suddenly jumped to 5,000 kip or 20 baht (65cents AUD).

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    Eventually we arrived in Tha Khaek. It was only 3pm but we decided to call it a day otherwise at sundown we would have found ourselves in an area with only very small villages and not much (if any) in the way of accommodation.

    We had been recommended a hotel and found it easily enough and checked in before going for a walk to check this little place out. Not much goes on here but it was still a nice little place to visit.







    Whilst the French left decades ago there is still some of their influence that has been left behind. Road and pedestrian layouts and building architecture the most noticeable.





    Dinner was on the banks of the Mekong looking across to Thailand watching the sun sink behind the city of Nakhon Phanom.



    I took advantage of getting a Thai phone signal and made some calls which were a lot cheaper then if I made them from my Laos sim card. An early night was had by all ready for the drive to the farm and the work that lay ahead the next day.

    Day four: Tha Khaek to Lax Sao and the farm coming soon.

  20. #20
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    200 baht bribe.
    Last one I payed was 50.

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    Did you run a red light and attempt to cross a one way bridge into oncoming traffic?

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    Nah, he ran over a policeman.

    The laos coppers just see some people coming.

    Looking forward to the farm

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    ^^^That truck came off of that ferry??????????????????? Wow, marvels of engineering never cease to amaze me.

    Fantastic thread and commentary, MeMock. Love it.

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    Day four was a much more interesting drive then day three. We left Tha Khaek a little after sun up and breakfast at the hotel. We continued north-west for two hours before turning East towards Vietnam and the farm. Filled up with petrol and a few snacks and we were back on the road again.

    The scenery quickly changed as soon as we approached the foothills of the mountain range.





    We stopped at a few look outs but as per usual it was very hazy.



    At one of the places we stopped I was pleased to see a dog truck approaching en route to the dinner plates of the Vietnamese. I had told Dad and Des about them earlier so it was good timing.





    As per usual the drive was very nice and there was always something to see or take a photo of. At least these little piggies were not (yet) off to market like the dogs. Here they are running allllll the way home.



    We arrived into Laxsao at midday....



    ... and checked into my home away from home, the Souriya hotel.



    After lunch we headed out to the farm to get proceeding underway for another harvest. It was an exciting day as the results were the best that we had achieved so far with some trees showing good strains of dark wood.



    The rest of the afternoon was spent cutting down trees and sorting them ready for the carving crew who were due to start in the morning.



    Next: Day V. Tree harvesting and Dad and Des explore Laxsao by motorbike.

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    How many trees have you got ?

    I won't go into the enviromental vandalism of cutting down trees though.

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