Thursday, June 19, 2014

Paksae, Laos

I've been hesitant to try a bus trip since my few experiences have been less than pleasant.  But, Paksae is only 3 hours away, and I did need to get my 90 day visa stamp, so it was, "Laos, here I come!"

Paksae is the third largest city in Laos, at the confluence of the Mekong and Sedone Rivers.  Lots of backpackers pass through on their way south to Don Det and the Four Thousand Islands. There is a direct route from Ubon to Paksae.

The bus to Paksae leaves at 9:30 every morning.  I was told you have to be there at 8:30 to make sure you get a ticket.  A good precaution, but there were lots of empty seats on the bus.  After buying my ticket, I had plenty of time to kill, maybe even have a little breakfast before the journey.



Breakfast in Thailand is not breakfast in America.  
This cartoon pretty much sums it up….  (blue is western, red is eastern).

The bus station was lively, I made new friends,
and I had a guide taking me around to take photos of all sorts of people who were there!

sells lottery tickets which are VERY popular in Thailand

Lotus seeds are seen at all transit stations.  I still don't know how you eat them!

Must be V.I.P.s, don't you think?

This woman helped from the time I got off the songtheaw at the bus station, until I got on the bus.  I was well taken care of!

improvised games to pass the time while waiting….
buses for various destinations
And…… MY bus!!!!

No surprise, I made a little friend on the journey.

I don't travel well on buses, but I was able to nap a bit.  Arriving at the border surprised me.  There is no one who tells you what to do, and signs are not always helpful.  It was a matter of following the crowd.  First, we got off the bus to enter the building in Thailand where they checked our paperwork.

it always takes a bit more time than you want, but finally, you get to see the sign….

which leads you through a cement tunnel to the other side of the border.

Coming out of the tunnel, I wasn't sure what to do or where to go, so I followed the majority of people.


First to the visa window where Americans pay $35 for their visa, or if paying in baht, 1500 baht.  (Clearly, American dollars go further.)

My passport and visa papers mysteriously disappeared, and then reappeared, 
stamped and ready to go, around the corner.

I was hoping the bus was still somewhere around to complete my journey.

Another hour by bus from the border to Paksae, and I was at the bus station.  A very friendly Australian backpacker got me situated on a tuk-tuk headed in the right direction.  I had made no hotel reservations, but my driver brought me to the perfect hotel (and a good price as well).

And now, a whole new language and money system to manage.
8051 Laotian kip = $1 USD
Dividing by 8 and moving the decimal point isn't as easy as it sounds.

The short amount of time combined with rainy season limited my options on this visit.  I would love to have gone out of town to explore the mountains, but I settled for a walk around instead.


There is always a temple to be found!

and a market….

fried chicken feet


rambutans (red) and mangosteens (purple)            deep fried baby birds

and little boys on bikes!

The sky turned dark (it is rainy season, after all!)

But it didn't stop me;  I had my new rain jacket!

This is the Big Buddha you can see as just a dot on the hillside, (to the left) in the previous photo.

Along the banks of the Mekong River.

There were lots of places like this for having dinner and drinks, along the Mekong. 

As appetizing as it appeared, I held off for something a little less "rustic".

I came across the newer and bigger market further along in town.  Being right next to the Mekong, fish was a huge attraction (to some).  They sell all shapes and sizes.


Yep, right there on the muddy, wet cement.

These children saw my camera and asked me to take their photo…. how cute!

And there are always dogs…..

When I got back to the hotel, I was ready for a little dinner at the rooftop restaurant.  The views were beautiful.

Three things in this picture I seldom see in Thailand….
wine, bread with my meal, and cheese (in the fried dumplings).

It was on the rooftop that I met 2 other teachers, Aase (from Norway) and Patrick (from Australia).  They are both teaching n Mukdahan, Thailand.

We had a great evening drinking wine and beer, and chatting.  We met up again in the morning to do a little more exploring before the bus ride home.  There's not much to see, so we decided on massages.  And a good thing we did as the skies opened up once again while we were having our bodies kneaded away into oblivion.

A quick whirlwind visit to Laos, my visa good for another 90 days, and the reverse border crossing.

Waiting for my next adventure…. a return to Bangkok this weekend!!!!