– visited May 2015 –
Pakse & Around
My visit to Laos is short, basically I am just passing through on the way to Thailand and Malaysia, stopping a bit along the way. I will need to come back one day for Laos north. There is a saying from colonial times, that in French Indochina, the Vietnamese plant the rice, the Cambodians watch the rice grow and the Lao listen to the rice grow. Of course, this is a vastly generalizing statement that needs to be taken with a big grain of salt but Laotians appeared to me to have a very relaxed manner.
I stop at Savannakhet, with 125,000 people the second largest city in Laos with its old French colonial quarter. On to Pakse. I rent a motorbike, I choose the slightly more expensive Japanese over the Chinese model, and head to the ruined Khmer Hindu temple complex of Vat Phou. Later that day, I cross the Mekong on a tiny raft (with my motorbike) and head to the Bolaven Plateau with its waterfalls.
Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands)
In the south of Laos, the Mekong has a width of about 14 kilometres. It forms a riverine archipelago with about 4,000 islands. Only a few of them are inhabited and some are completely covered by the river in the rainy season. It is a place to relax, to get on a boat, to lounge in a hammock or to head to the Mekong Rapids.
I rent a bicycle. I have a flat tire. Thankfully a repair shop is nearby. They fix the tube the old way, with fire.