01 April 06 - To Savannakhet
I was to be at the Indian restaurant at 0700, so went a bit earlier to have some breakfast. Six other people came along, also getting the bus to Savannakhet. By 0715 we were still sitting there. I asked the manager where the bus was, he said he'd called and not to worry. We understood we were being picked up from there to be taken to the bus station as the bus was due to leave at 0730. We were still there at 0730 when a songthaew drew up and we all got into that. We were taken a couple of kms to a bus (which wasn't at the bus station) and got on there. After some time we drove very slowly to a bus station, where the driver and his assistants got out and had some food! We thought this was rather funny and someone said they had been told it would leave there at 0830. We eventually left at just after 0900 (if this was the express bus I would hate to have got the slow one) and the driver hugged the pavement for a while at a snail's pace, I guess hoping to catch a few more passengers, and by about 0915 we set off, arriving at Savannakhet at 1300.
I took a songthaew to a guesthouse called Saisouk. The young girl there, who spoke reasonable English, showed me a room downstairs with bathroom which was quite grotty. However, when I saw a room upstairs with shared bathroom facilities I was much more impressed as it looked quite nice. The house was quite airy and very clean with nice old wooden floors. I asked her to save that room while I checked on another guesthouse, but preferred the Saisouk. Didn't do very much today other than use the internet, have lunch and chat to an Austrian guy who is going to Vietnam tomorrow and read over dinner. I thought about leaving tomorrow as there doesn't seem a great deal to do here, but have decided to stay another night as three days' travelling is a bit much. Also the town has a very nice feel about it and think I wouldn't do it justice by moving on without seeing much of it.
I don't know why it is you feel tired after journeys when you haven't done the driving. It's quite strange, but true.
02 April 06
No April Fool's jokes yesterday that I was aware of - don't think it's known about in Laos.
Woke really early, as usual. I am worried about not having a room booked in Luang Prabang for their New Year's celebration (13-16 April) so asked the girl at my guesthouse if she could call a guesthouse I had stayed in to see if they had a room free. They didn't. I thought I would try the town's tourist office to see if they could help, so after breakfast I did that and fortunately, after a few tries, the extremely helpful girl there found me a room. It is probably very basic, and sharing a bathroom (the LP says of the guesthouse that the walls between the rooms are just bamboo) but at least I know I am fixed up without having to pay an exorbitant price. I also put my name down to do a one day trek tomorrow, should anyone else show interest, as I cannot go on one on my own - typical! So if noone does show, I shall move on tomorrow.
Savannakhet, as so many of the towns I stay in, is beside the Mekong and has a lot of crumbly French colonial buildings, and little lanes. It reminds me very much of a larger Kampot, the town I liked so much in Cambodia. Across the river I can see Thailand, as the river is all that separates the two countries.
Didn't do much today, just wandering round, using the internet and reading.