It took us just over one and a half hours to fly South from Luang Prabang to Pakse. Pakse hasn’t changed much, though the hotel we stayed in (Athena Hotel) is much swisher than anything that existed seven years ago.
There’s not a lot here and most people either don’t stay or stay for one night on their way to or from the Four Thousand Islands.
We really liked it then and still feel the same. Like the rest of Laos, it’s very laid back and the further south you head, the more simple life becomes and of course, the hotter it gets.
We spent two days re-exploring the city, eating great Indian food and organising our onward transport.
We booked a private car with driver to take us on the three hour journey to Don Khon. It was a great drive down and we eventually got to the port where the boats leave for the various islands that make up the “Four Thousand Islands”. We didn’t have long to wait, before we boarded a rickety, wobbly, wooden canoe-like thing and away we were.
After about thirty minutes we were dropped off on Don Khon. Getting on and off these boats with luggage and no proper docking facilities is always an adventure. We survived, with us and our bags dry!
First order of the day, before we went in search of our hotel was a cold beer. These were our first views of this beautiful place:
As we were sitting there, admiring our surroundings, we were once again taken by surprise when yet another ex-colleage and his wife passed by. Michel Moro and Toke had arrived the day before. It wasn’t the first time that we’d bumped into Michel, the last time was in 2001 in Kathmandu. We had a great dinner with them the night before they left.
We did some marvellous walks during the four days we were on the island. Very hot and very dusty but such great scenery and tranquility.
Another great walk was over the “Friendship bridge” to the neighbouring Island Don Det:
We didn’t want to leave when our time was up, but with only a 30 day visa it was, unfortunately time to move on.
So, once again it was onto the boat, into the car and North again to Champasak. It is very hard to imagine that this place used to be the seat of Kings. It’s another great town, beautiful colonial houses and so sleepy, it’s easy to just while away the days.
15 minutes after arrival, the peace and quiet was suddenly shattered by the worst and loudest karaoke you have ever heard, coming from a house 100 metres down the road. It was so bad that it was hilarious. After an hour, with the participants getting drunker and the singing getting louder and worse, hilarity soon gave way to annoyance and and finally we even considered moving on. It was obvious that the locals weren’t too happy about it either, so we asked why no-one complained. We were told that there was no-one to complain to, because the noise mongers were in fact the police themselves 🙂
So we went for a long walk and fortunately, by the time we got back, peace had returned and stayed with us for the next three days
Our main reason for stopping here was to see Vat Phou temple which is only 10 Km away from Champasak town. A tuk tuk was quickly arranged and we had a lovely cool ride down to the temple. It covers quite a large area and exploring it in boiling hot temperatures was certainly challenging but well worth it.
Again, time passed too quickly and after three days we took a car further North back to Pakse where we spent one night before flying back to Vientiane for our next flight to Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand.
We’re quite sad about leaving Laos and it is still at the top of the list for best countries in SE Asia. We will definitely come back and hopefully stay longer. As gorgeous as Vientiane and Luang Prabang were, when we return next time we’ll head South straight away. You just can’t beat the scenery and the tranquility.
Wishing everyone a healthy and happy 2016!