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On The Road

Michel Kuiper

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Kupang - Timor - Indonesia 24-4-98 to 26-5-98

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my travel experiences in Laos
mo 27-4-98: Huay Xai
We (Monique et moi) arrived in Huay Xai (border was straightforward), but were too late for public transport to Luang Nam Tha. There's only transport in the morning (only one truck).
Changed money at bank at border: lousy rate: 1 baht=62 kip.
Stayed at Thaveesinh Hotel: "expensive" but deluxe: 12.000 kip with att. bath.

tu 28-4: Huay Xai to Luang Nam Tha
Left early in the morning The old Russian truck with two wooden benches in the back leaves at 7am supposedly, but it was actually 8:30 am (after some repairs). I remembered paying about 22.000 kip (not sure). Truck leaves from the morning market. The road is gravel for the first 7 hrs, after that it's a really bad mud road. The trip takes between 8 to 30 (!) hrs (rumours); ours lasted 14 hrs. The distance of the trip is a mere 215 km. Truck dropped us at Sing Savanh G.H.: 5000 kip. Changed money here at G.H.: 1 baht = 65 kip.

we 29-4: Luang Nam Tha to Muang Sing
With pick-up truck to Muang Sing (3000 kip), the raod is asphalted; trip takes about 2 hrs.
Stayed at Suangduane G.H.: 4000 kip (beautiful views). M.S. is a relaxed, opium trading (easily available for those who are interested) village.
Morning market is the best: lots of different tribes come down to the market daily; be there early: 6am. Tribes are very colourful: Akha, Hmong, Mien, etc. Electricity in M.S. between 7pm to 10:30pm.

sa 2-5: Muang Sing to L.N.T.
In the morning with truck at 9 am (I'm travelling now with Monique and a Belgian guy) to L.N.T. Quite a few (pick-up-)trucks between M.S. and L.N.T. Trip lasted 2,5 hrs now: 3500 kip. Direct coonection (don't count on it though) to Muang Xai: in a bus in 3,5 hrs to M.X. (asphalted): 5000 kip.
Stayed in dorm for 2000 kip (don't know name of the place).

su 3-5: L.N.T.to Pakbeng
Only one pick-up-truck (songthaew) daily to Pakbeng, leaves in the morning at about 8 am (for us 8.30 am). It costs 6000 kip and takes 7 hrs (road was asphalted the last time maybe by the French: sometimes more potholes than asphalt). Provincial stamp in P.B. 200 kip.
Stayed at nice Monsavan G.H.: 2500 pp.

mo 4-5: Pakbeng to Luang Prabang
Took slowboat to Luang Prabang; leaves at 8 am: 12.000 kip, about 8,5 hrs downstream.
In L.P. Van Visa G.H.: 5000 kip pp in 3 bed room, but very nice (people). Family atmosphere.

tu 5-5: Luang Prabang
Changed money at morning market 1 baht = 67 kip.

fr 8-5: Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
From bus station (way out of town in L.P.) on a bus to Vang Vieng: expensive at 11.000 kip: good asphalted road: 5,5 hrs. Spectaculair route.
Chanthala G.H. in V.V.: 2 double beds room for 5000 kip!
V.V. is one of the best places in Laos, if not THE best.

tu 12-5: V.V. to Vientiane.
Bus leaves at 6.30 am (about 4 buses in the morning): 4hrs on asphalted road. I'm travelling now with Monique.
In Vientiane we were very lucky to find room in MCI G.H.: 5000 kip pp in 3 bed dorm. Otherwise Vientiane very expensive in terms of accomm.
The Indian Restaurant on the "Mekong Boulevard" is superb.

we 13-5: Vientiane
Changed baht at morning market, 2nd floor, with the jewellery shops: 1 baht - 69 kip. Don't miss Buddha Park near Vientiane.

th 14-5: Vientiane to Savannakhet:
bus leaves at 7.30 am: 10.000 kip' 8hrs 15 minutes. and asphalted road. Santyphab Hotel in Sav. is rundown but cheap: 4500 kip att. bath. In Sav. I met a traveller called Andrea...

sa 16-5: Savannakhet to Pakse
There is a direct bus to Pakse from Sav. at 5 am but too early for us....this was the only direct one.. In 3 stages to Pakse (very bad gravel road) Sav. to Song Khon on "Highway" 13. Truckbus left at 7.30am, arrived 10 am. Then Song Khon to Khong Sedone: truckbus, 3500 kip, 5 hrs. Finally Khong Sedone to Pakse: with 5 people with hitchhiked to Pakse in the back of a pick-up-truck.
Phonsavanh Hotel is the cheapest in town for 6000 kip, but NOT recommended.

su 17-5: Pakse to Champasak
In morning to Champasak with boat on Mekong: 2000 kip, leaves at 8.30 am. about 2 hrs. NO budget accomm. in Champ.: cheapest 15.000 kip for big room: way too expensive. If tight on budget I recomm. day trip from Pakse.

mo 18-5: Champasak to Muang Khong
With Monique in chartered motorcycle-taxi to Wat Phu: really nice. Then on to Si Phan Don (four Thousand Islands). Boat already gone: crossed Mekong with ferry and semi-chartered a small pick-up-truck to Highway 13 (a 1000 kip pp.) after 5 minutes caught a bus to Muang Khong. About 3 hours. Last bit crossed Mekong to Don Khong Island. 3000 kip for boat charter.
Kang Khong Villa is the best (Andrea will confirm) deluxe room for 10000 kip attached bathroom great breakfast. Electricity up to 11 pm.

We 20-5: Muang Khong to Don Khon Island
Changed money at the villa 1 Baht 64 kip. In the morning with boattrip down the Mekong. We (4 people) go one way to Don Khon Island three others go return. Cost: 8600 kip pp. The total for the boat is 35000 kip and 25000 for the pick up truck to the waterfall.
In Ban Khon the Sala Done Khone costs 10000 a room attached bath. Extra double bed is 5000 kip.

Fr 22-5: Don Khon Island
Fare for boat (on the other side of the island) to see fresh water dolphins is 3000 pp. We saw more than 30 appearances of dolphins. Boat back to Muang Khong from Ban Khon is charter is 25000 kip. Changed money in Muang Khong with british lady (Thanks Andrea). Room in Don Khong Guest House (the villa was full) are the same price but incompareable with the Villa.

Sa 23-5:Don Khon Island to Pakse
At 8 am. I cross Mekong with ferry. Walk to highway 13 and waited for truckbus. When bus arrives the boys go on the roof and the girls are not allowed. On top of the bus great views, lots of leg space but after 4 hours totally sunburned.
In Pakse to Pakse Hotel. One room 4 beds 11500 kip attached bath. Changed money in the evening at Corner Cafe. I forgot the rate but Andrea will know.

Su 24-5: Pakse to Tad Lo
In the morning to Tad Lo (Truckbus to Salavan). Few buses in the morning. After about two hours in Tad Lo. Two km walk to resort. Resort was full other accomodation in Saise GH. Same price but incomparable in Resort (10000 kip).
Mo 25-5: Tad Lo
In early morning change from accomodation. Three people in luxury room (attached bath, sitting area and 10 m balkony with waterfall view): 2 people 12000, extra bed 14000 (in total). I said good bye to Monique (leaving for Vietnam)

Tuesday 26-5: Tad Lo to Thailand
Last day of Lao Visa. With 2 hour busride to Pakse free (?) ferry across the Mekong and one hour drive to Thai border in a truck (1500 kip). Arrived at the boarder just before closing time .... End of Laos for me.

In General:
Provicial Stamps only necessary in Luang Prabang. Lao people don't believe in afternoon public transport (let alone evening).
I've been to South Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia (very, very cheap right now: I had a room for less than 1/2 dollar US with attached bath). Tomorrow I leave for Australia. I hope this Information is of any help to you (it is of course already a bit dated) Keep up the good work! Yours
(hope you remember me)

from Andrea:
Sure I do!! Thank you very much for your precious information.

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