Savannakhet to Vientiene...
23.01.2012 - 29.01.2012 26 °C
After our adventures on the pig/goat/duck/chicken bus, we arrived in Savannakhet quite late on the Monday. Savannakhet is a trading riverside town with an international border to Thailand and has a whole host of touristy activities which are scattered around the region. It actually looks quite buzzing on an evening here with plenty of cafes, bars and clubs to go to, along with a plentiful supply of sex tourists. Swings and roundabouts after all!
In true style we sought out our own little adventure on the outskirts of town. We hired a scooter and went for a ride eastwards towards a turtle lake. The sun was shinning, the air was clean, the roads were pretty decent and we had a decent responsive scooter under our legs. The ride was fine until I felt a slight balance issue with the rear of the bike (its a man thing), so I took it slow until the next garage (also in plentiful supply). We disembarked the two wheeled motorised scooter to find the rear tyre as flat as a pancake. Thankfully a gleaming smile from a local grease monkey greeted us saying that he could help out for a measly sum of only 10,000 kip (50p)! As Annie and myself looked on with much en-trepidation, the nice mechanic flipped off the wheel and popped out the inner tube in a jiffy, then got to work on fixing the puncture. Back on the road with a fully inflated tyre once again, it occurred that we might be becoming a stereotype of our own – perhaps motorised two wheeled vehicle enthusiasts (I'm not allowed to call it a motorbike apparently because its an automatic!) or maybe just those type that like to see the real world from their own eyes.
Without knowing what to expect from turtle lake, it was set on the outskirts of a small town in the middle of nowhere! The lake wasn’t much bigger than the lake at Platt Fields Park in Manchester, or perhaps the size of a football pitch, but there was an elevated platform across to the centre of the lake which was full of tourists feeding the turtles sticky rice and prawn crackers. The turtles were huge, about the size of a car tyre - to a bus tyre (I like to be accurate with my estimations!) I reckon some of them must be a 100 years old! The turtles were impressive and liked the apparent attention, but they were incredible ugly creatures!, with warts, blemishes, green goo in their eyes and wonky unsymmetrical shells!
On the way back to Savanakhet we popped into a temple which had been heavily bombed by the Americans in 1972. A sign on the wall read ' MAG SAFE SITE', so we knew it was a safe place to walk free from bombies. All around Laos (and Cambodia) are UXO's (Unexplodeded Ordinances) which the locals call 'bombies' and basically are unexploded missiles and bombs dropped by the Americans. Apparently a third did not explode on impact and continue to kill, maim and injure thousands of people each year, so walking around places which are not cleared is just a big no no.
Back to Savannahket and the commencement of the annual Star Wars day on the laptop! Annie has never seen them before so I treated her to the whole lot in a day and a half! Now sufficiently versed in Star Wars references and quotes we set of on our bus trip to Vientiane. May the force be with you...
The largest city and capital of Laos, Vientiane is the French name for Viengchan. An impressive city with a charismatic feel to it. Patisseries, Wine bars, herbal saunas, monasteries and English Pubs line the streets of Vientiane. I have to say that we participated in all of the above in the two nights and three days that we were there.
The one thing we had to do in Vientiane that was of importance was to arrange our Vietnam Visa. Unfortunately and due to something called the New Year, the blimey commies were on holiday for a week – how dare they! With this in mind we skipped on to Vang Vieng for some tubing action!!!