We are almost through the half of the trip. And this is really a roller coaster drive through nations – some ultra modern and some rural, struggling to keep pace the world.
Day 3 – 09 Jan : CHONGMEK – PAKSE (380 KMS) | Thailand – Laos
This trip has now begun to get a bit tiring. Early morning wake ups and whole day of driving.
I did get late sleeping last night filling in the Blog for Day 1, 2. I was able to catch up some sleep and woke up by 6 am, March off was scheduled for 7:30 pm. Had a simple breakfast Coffee, bread butter and sausage – though there was a very large choice to pick from. They normally cater to local food and some continental subsistence.
The convoy more or less rolled out in time and we headed to the border of Thailand and Laos. You could notice a distinct difference between the Thailand and Laos as a country. The first and foremost being that you drive on the right of the road.
Laos ( pronounced as Lao ) is mostly an agrarian society and population is Buddhist. They have been a french colony and was in the cross hairs of Americans in US – Vietnam conflict. Some print and internet sources reveal that Laos is the most bombed country on Earth – and American bombers dropped more bombs in Laos, than all the bombings that happened in 2nd World War.
Like most of the South East Asian countries – Laos was a Hindu kingdom before Buddhism took routes here. Culturally and ethnically, they are quite close to Thai people.
People are poor, human rights are not so great and the Govt is Marxist – Leninist single party communist regime.
Visas or Immigration
Obtaining a tourist visa to enter Laos is not a big deal. You could get visa on arrival easily – but if you are getting car or a motorbike, this could be an issue. Our visas were already done by TAT Delhi and we sailed through smoothly. Once done with visas – we had to go through and under ground pass and emerge in Laos. Instructions were to wait at Laos Duty free – and we had the famous Dao Coffee of Laos. It took about an hour by when all vehicles and participants finished their immigrations and we were ready to go.
Our next destination was Vat Phu. For some unknown reasons the convoy leader took us through a un-metalled track – more of an off-roading thing. This really slowed our pace and we wasted quite a bit of time in this track. Though one could have a rare chance of seeing the interior and back roads of Laos countryside. It took us almost 3 hours to reach Vat Phu. This was tiring and back breaking for many.
Vat Phu is an ancient temple devoted to Lord Shiva – its a World Heritage site being restored by the ASI, Govt on India. The hindu influence this far and wide is an amazing thing – Uma Mahesh riding the Nandi and the Nagas can be seen sculptured. In later centuries it did become a Buddhist centre that exists till today. If you trek up the steep stone stair case, you would come to the main deity and a natural spring water falling over the Shiva Linga. That water is considered to be holy and liberating. While others took pictures from bottom, I and Himraj, did trek up the top – and I went and saw this stream from spring water. I then rushed down to catch the convoy which had already begun to move.
The road here in after was metalled and good. Along the Mekong river within 40 minutes we were at Pakse. We were rushed into a sumptuous lunch – it was a late lunch we had. We were then taken to a waterfall and a tribal village – the village has a series of tribal huts – and a museum.
There is a nice little restaurant by the waterfalls and once could do a home-stay in the village. We spent about an hour in that place and the tribal village.
One of the things i really liked is a canteen that opens up with drinks and snacks – and you could take your pick of munching before the drive. Pretty well catered i must say.
We drove back to the hotel and there was an official dinner by the Governor of Pakse. Again a sumptuous spread of menu, some cultural performances, few speeches that i did not understand at all – nor were they bothered. But i clapped when everyone else did. The Governor and some other officials did come around to exchange pleasantries. The dancers did invite us over for shaking a leg or two – and we obliged. It was a nice evening spent – and the cool breeze from the river was so soothing.
Just before leaving we were briefed that we have a long day tomorrow ( like all days :)) and the convoy would march by 7 am.
Day 4 : 10 Jan : PAKSE – ATTAPEU – GIA LAI (460 KMS) | Laos – Vietnam
The day began with a pleasant drive on Laos roads – saw people going about their morning chores – mending fields, transporting farm produce and passing through jungles. On the way we stopped by some coffee plantations – and had a chance to see some very beautiful thin, and long twin water falls. These places have nice cafes cum bar cum eating places.
There is a lot more coming up as we enter Vietnam. Will get back to write about it in my next part of Blog, once we are done with whole of Vietnam. I am really looking forward to this country with great patriotic spirit – and what a resurgence of economy. One more victim of Cold War.
Thanks for reading this through. I will see you again soon with more of the Vietnam Story.
Cheers and Be safe! Click to know more about Road Trips.
11 Jan 2016, Dalat, Vietnam