We were on the road by 8am and struck trouble within the first 200 metres! I thought I would try a different route out of Pakse this time and took the bridge instead of going around. Little did I know that the bridge was one-way and by the time I reached it a swarm of mosquitos were bearing down on me. These mozzies took the shapes of Hondas and Yamahas and there also seemed to be a queen mozzie who was flapping his arms and blowing a whistle. I was about to experience my first dealings with the police, Laos style.
I quickly reversed out of the way then walked over to where I was being summonsed to – the police box. What proceeded was quite a laugh. For maybe five minues or more we joked about how I hadn’t seen the traffic lights, what I was doing, where I was going, the weather, how many people were driving past at that moment breaking the law before eventually the fine got mentioned. He was adamant that I should pay 400 baht but after I explained that that was expensive even for Thailand and in my best accountant voice explained the GDP of both countries and why a Laos fine should be cheaper then a Thai one he eventually agreed upon 200 baht ($7 AUD) (still too much) and we were free to go.
We proceeded on unsure how far we were going to get that day. We bypassed Savannakhet and made tracks for Tha Khaek.
This part of Laos is very boring and dusty rice fields were the order of the day apart from one 30km stretch about an hour north of Pakse where they obviously have access to water all your round and a second rice crop for the season was well underway.
Seven years ago on one of Dad’s trips to visit us in Thailand he came across grilled rat for sale in a local market. He turned his nose up then but decided on this trip he was going to be brave and wanted to at least try one. We went back to that same market and many others in Thailand but never saw any so I was hoping to find him one is Laos. Just before the bypass road past Savannakhet there are dozens and dozens of women all trying to sell meat on a stick. You pull up and are besieged by at least ten of them all thrusting various tempting and not so tempting meat snacks in your face.
Unfortunately they had only Pork and Chicken, Rat it seems was not available that day. As a result we had to stop a little way down the road where we had too much food at a tiny little roadside restaurant. Whilst eating we marvelled at the sugar cane trucks rolling slowly by. We caught up with them on the road very quickly after lunch.
Last year the toll was 2,000 kip which has now suddenly jumped to 5,000 kip or 20 baht (65cents AUD).
Eventually we arrived in Tha Khaek. It was only 3pm but we decided to call it a day otherwise at sundown we would have found ourselves in an area with only very small villages and not much (if any) in the way of accommodation.
We had been recommended a hotel and found it easily enough and checked in before going for a walk to check this little place out. Not much goes on here but it was still a nice little place to visit.
Whilst the French left decades ago there is still some of their influence that has been left behind. Road and pedestrian layouts and building architecture the most noticeable.
Dinner was on the banks of the Mekong looking across to Thailand watching the sun sink behind the city of Nakhon Phanom.
I took advantage of getting a Thai phone signal and made some calls which were a lot cheaper then if I made them from my Laos sim card. An early night was had by all ready for the drive to the farm and the work that lay ahead the next day.
Day four: Tha Khaek to Lak Sao and the farm coming soon.