Having bought an incredibly cheap ticket from Hoi An to Savannakhet (£9 each), we discovered before first nightfall, exactly why it was so cheap! The first leg of our journey was a reasonable aircon tour bus which took us four hous up the Vietnamese coast to the Citadel of Hue, arriving just before dusk. We were then told that was where we were to stay for the night (contrary to our original booking) so we held firm until another bus arrived to take us to the border town of Dong Ha, a completely non-descript place which, fortunately, was merely an overnight stop. However, the nominated 'guesthouse' called Trung Tam Quan turned out to be a rat-infested dump of a place, with outside squat loos, a shower we couldn't even find, and nylon sheets plus the detritus of previous guests that included disarded pills etc. Thankfully, we had our silk lining sleeping bags or I'm certain we would have caught something unspeakable!
Early next morning (5.30am to be precise) a clapped out old 16 seater minibus arrived to take us to the Lao border. Unfortunately, this bus was manned by young cowboys who swerved and screeched around the town picking up potential passengers bound for the border - and they weren't going anywhere until the bus was filled to capacity (and more). Eventually, when not a square inch of space remained (including a couple of people standing up), they careered their way for a couple of hours towards the border at a breakneck speed. We should really have opted out at that point, but there weren't any other options.
Eventually we crossed the border
without further hassle and caught a local bus to Savannakhet
on the Mekong and last town in Laos before Thailand. We stayed here for a couple of days before deciding what next, although having found it impossible to hire a bike, our options were limited, plus the intense daytime heat was getting to us. We stayed at a strange hotel - the Nakhai, described by Lonely Plant aptly as having a "character bypass"
, and which refused point blank to give us a discount as the owner had decreed that the lift (the only one in that part of the world apparently) cost a lot in electricity and had to paid for by guests! Sadly, the massive swimming pool was out of action.Alan's entry
Savannakhet, like a number of other newly opened border crossings, is a town that is waiting for its next reincarnation..this is in the form of four wheeled vehicles. New roads to and from the town have been built along with the necessary petrol stations and car show rooms. Few cars as yet, but all the billboards, built around crumbling colonial buildings are painting a picture of the future..and that is Thais travelling in their Toyota people carriers..
It will soon be quite easy to travel arouns Laos, maybe in 3 to 4 years..so if you want an adventure and few vehicles get there soon.
Watched a beautiful sunset as we looked over the Mekong river towards Thailand. The river front was full of small eating outlets where the young local people congregate in the evening. A little dissapointed that we could not find independent transportation from here and move further North as previously planned.