Monday, May 11, 2009

Part II - Onward to Laos

Don Khone, Laos - In the last post I talked about our trip from Phnom Penh to the border town of Stung Treng.

We were up at 6am, as we had to get breakfast and packed up and ready for the bus to pick us up at 730am.

There was a bit of confusion as to what bus we were supposed to get on, first a big bus then a small bus and finally a minibus.

Finally by 8am we were off to the border about 50 miles away. Our minibus consisted of a couple of Lao guys, a Vietnamese woman, a Japanese girl and ourselves.

The roads in Cambodia have been surprisingly good, many seem like they were recently paved in the past couple of years and the road to the border was no exception. It will be interesting to see if they are maintained going forward.

We reached the "border" in an hour. I say "border" because all it consisted of was a little hut on the Cambodian side with a gate across the road, followed by a walk of 500m down the road to the Lao hut and accompanying gate.

We got our passports stamped to get out of Cambodia (with the requested $1 to the border guard to "stamp" our passport). No dollar no stamp was how it was politely explained to us.

Same thing with the Lao side, a $1 contribution to the border guard got your passport stamped into Laos and given back to you. A few people grumbled a bit but what are you going to do, these guys are out in the middle of nowhere getting paid nothing I have no problem giving them a dollar if it gets me through the border quickly and painlessly.

The funny thing was that in the 90 minutes we were at the border we saw one person (a buddhist monk) on the back of a moto come through the border. This is the only border crossing between Cambodia & Laos and it doesn't seem to be a busy one.

Anyhow now into Laos we waited about 45 minutes for our Lao minibus to arrive. Out scrambled a half dozen Aussie backpackers going the other direction, we got into their minibus and were off to the 4000 Islands. A few stops (some for no apparent reason??) and an hour later we were at the boat landing to go to our island in the Mekong Don Khone.

We went down to the boatmen and handed one our ticket we had purchased in Cambodia he motioned us towards one of the boats in we hopped with the Japanese girl from our minibus and 20 minutes later we were being dropped on the beach.

We stumbled up the hill with our packs to the main road (dirt road about 10 feet wide) and went in search of a guesthouse, we looked at one that was too expensive and found another that was right on the Mekong River with a nice veranda for only $12/night.

After a day and a half of traveling we were in Laos and settled into our guest house.

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