Vientiane to Champasak Laos
Our journey from the Laos capital of Vientiane to Champasak to the far southern part of the country was one of slow, hot local buses and a few towns with not much in them. Our route pretty much followed the Mekong and the landscape was pretty flat and not terribly interesting. The main north / south road is like slow going with cows, chickens, goats and the odd child all wandering along the road and the road condition is not good. Laos drivers don’t seem to drive over 50 km hr and while there are road rules no one takes much notice of them…
There’s not much in Thakhek – it’s really just a Laos / Thai border town and the quickest route from Thailand to Vietnam. The one thing that did fascinate me was the shop after shop selling tourist rubbish and designer knock offs – who buys this stuff in a middle of a nowhere town.
We ended up saying a week in Thakhek, not because its a great place to stay but because we found a fabulous hotel the ‘Inthira’ which had fantastic rooms, a good menu and decent (well drinkable) red wine.
Konglor Cave Laos
While in Thakhek we did a day trip to Kanglor cave, a 7.5 km long cave with a river running through it. We travelling in a canoe through the cave to a village that the only access is via the cave and then back along the way stopping to wander around the stalagmites and stalactites – an interesting day. This cave was used as shelter by the locals from American bombs during the Indochina war. America dropped more bombs on Laos then than they dropped in the entire time they fought in WW2 and Laos became the most bombed country on earth at that time, even today 1 person dies everyday from UXO left by the Americans.
Even less in this town than Thakhek – not even a decent hotel! We only stopped here to get off the bus for a day as we judged the distance to Pakse just too far to do in one hit on a local bus. The upside of this town was I did have an amazing chicken schnitzel in a tiny cafe we found…
After another long (6 hours) hot bus ride on a bus loaded to the gunnels with people, sacks of rice and goodness knows what else we arrived in Pakse, changed to a tuk tuk then to a songthaew (a kind of big tuk tuk) to get to Champasak.
Sometimes when you travel you arrive somewhere that is just ‘right’ – this is Champasak for us. It is a sleepy Mekong village which is the gate way to the Four Thousand Islands and Wat Phu (Angkor type ancient temples). Its the type of village where not much happens, goats and chickens wander along the main (only) road and kids play happily. We stayed at the lovely Inthira which was a little bit of heaven with high quality rooms and great facilities.