So, apparently my battery charger (yes my camera uses AA batteries) is so old that it does not convert currents on its own, which newer devices do. What does this mean? First, I fried my charger and second, I had no means to charge my batteries and thus use my camera when we arrived in Pakse. Sorry, I forgot to mention, we are now in Pakse.
Luckily, my partner’s camera uses a different battery and she had her own charger, which converts currents on its own so we were good to go.
Now that we have that covered, how about I let everyone know how we are doing? Short answer, we are doing great! We arrived in Pakse yesterday afternoon, around 2:30PM after a 6.5 hour bus ride from Tha Khek. To me, Pakse feels like the Laos we visited 8 years ago. There are many more travelers in this city than in Tha Khek. This is probably because it is a major transit point in the South of Laos. From here you can get flights to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as get buses to each of those countries as well. There is so much more happening here. Both of the guide books that we brought say that there is not much to see or do here, however, the people watching is great and we think it warrants a few more days than the books give it credit for. We are considering coming back after a tour of the 4000 Islands to the south, which we are leaving for tomorrow morning.
As I mentioned above, we arrived in Pakse by bus yesterday (January 29). When the bus, ‘arrived,’ a tuk tuk driver got on the bus and said, “Pakse, Pakse,” and all of the foreign travelers were told this is where we were stopping. Of course this was not the bus depot but we all, happily, went along with it and got a ride into town. That day we spent time walking around town and trying to find batteries for my camera. I did end up finding some Panasonic ones at the market but when I put them in my camera it would not fire up. I suppose they are not powerful enough for a digital camera. There is 2 bucks I will never see again.
Today we went and visited Wat Phu, which are ruins, that actually pre-date Angkor Wat in Cambodia. We rented a Honda Wave motorbike the night before from a guesthouse close to where we were staying and drove out at 6:30AM this morning. It was a really fun trip. I forgot how fun it is to rip a scooter around. Of course this scooter was much more powerful than what we would drive at home. It is 110cc so it has some pop to it and is a semi auto, meaning there is no clutch but still has 4 gears. I would contemplate buying one if they sold them at home! We stopped for breakfast at a charmingly dirty restaurant in Champasak, which is 10km from the ruins, and then walked around the town a bit. It has quite a few older French colonial style buildings, which made for nice photos. The ruins themselves are quite impressive. We were both astonished at how well the site was kept up. To give you an idea, the grass was actually being watered! First off, this means there is grass, and secondly this means that it was being looked after. Two things that are very uncommon in Laos. It was a pleasant surprise.
After looking around for a few hours we hoped back on our bike and started making our way home. I stopped to get some, ‘street meat,’ that I had seen on the way in. It was interesting to say the least. I have no clue what parts of the animal I was eating and have no wish to find out. I made it through most of it and washed it down with a Pepsi. This was by far the worst thing I have ever, in all my trips around the world, bought off the street. It was rough. Thankfully my lunch at a cafe in town was very nice, which stopped me thinking about this other meal. I would like to think this experience would stop me from eating this type of thing in the future but it probably will not. I still think some of the best meals I have ever eaten have been off the street, so I will continue experimenting.
Tomorrow we are heading to the 4000 Islands. This should be a more relaxing part of our journey, as there are very few inhabitants on the islands and very few guesthouses on the island we are going to. We plan on relaxing in the sun, walking around villages, having a few Beer Lao, and reading some books. Of course we also have the chance of seeing some river Dolphins but my hopes are not up for that.
I hope that this submission was easier to read. I believe that my previous post was a little long and thank you for continuing to follow our journey.