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Missioning it to Laos!!

South Cambodia to Laos in 2 days

The only downside to celebrating new year on Otres beach (apart from the HUGE hangover, my 28 year old self needs to remember can't handle it like 21 anymore) was that we were the opposite end of the country to the border with Laos and only had a couple of days till our visa expired!! If we were including flights it would not be a problem but to keep to budget we are trying to do bus as much as possible so after a days rest in the shade and an early night the mission across the country began....

No surprises our pick up we had booked to take us to the bus station in Sihanoukvillle never turned up so we had to pay again for another one, not the most promising start. The furthest bus we could get from here was to Phnom Penh so we had dropped White Rabbit a note to say we were coming back again (our third stay with them)...we had randomly bumped into Vincent who works there at the new year party at Otres beach. The 6 hour trip meant we arrived in the afternoon with enough time to go and find a ticket for a bus to take us over the border into Laos the following day.

As we had been to Phnom Penh before this was an easier task to do and a short conversation at the ticket booth at the bus station to doubly make sure it was the right ticket for $24 each we had tickets to Nakasang in Laos, where we then would jump on a boat to 4000 islands! Exciting! Not so exciting was the 6.45 start and the 10 hours on a bus to get there! With the tickets sorted sooner than we thought we had time to play with the new residents at White Rabbit (2 gorgeous kittens!) and also popped to the cinema to see The Impossible (movie about the tsunami, its got great effects and a bit of a tear jerker).


The next morning resisting all the temptation to pack the kittens we jumped in our tuk tuk to the bus station (this one turned up) and sat waiting eating bread from a local vendor. After some slight confusion we found our bus over the road at the petrol station and after some more waiting off we went. It was an uneventful trip until we approached the Laos border. We had read online that the visa should be around $35 dollars but to expect 'bribes' at the border. One of the men working on the bus came round with the immigration cards and to collect passports but was charging $41 for the visa, apparently this was for an additional $1 stamp fee at the Cambodian side and then a $5 fee on the Laos side. As we were tired we decided just to pay the few dollars extra rather than have the hassle although about 6 people decided to do the border themselves. We all got off the bus and the man with the passports and the few doing it themselves went to the small shacks to get their passports stamped.


It was one of the randomist boarder crossings yet. As it was the end of the day half of the people working at there seemed to have started a party already about 10 bottles of beer down and a karaoke machine in full blast they sang away as we waited for the officials to stamp visas. It did keep us entertained as we waited but we noticed the 6 who were doing it on there own had been sent back to the Cambodian side to get another stamp and then were being held up when back on the Laos side even though two guys who arrived separately (with kayaks) seemed to get through quicker?


Back on the bus we all waited for the 6 who were doing it on their own and the tension was mounting. As two came back to the bus they had managed to only pay an additional $2 and were querying why everyone else had to pay more and were promptly shouted at to sit down and told they were delaying the bus. Then the bus made as if it was going to drive off leaving the other 4 people which resulted in a lot more shouting, apparently the border police were refusing to stamp their passports and give them back until the next morning. The driver was unsympathetic and shouted it was their fault for not paying the fee like everyone else and they had to leave or people would miss their connecting bus at Pakse! It got a bit fraught a lot of shouting that they couldn't leave people stranded at the border vs you should have paid and you ll have to pay for all the people that miss their connection! Not the most pleasant experience and eventually they got their passports and we were on our way but the atmosphere was definitely on edge. To save a couple of dollars it does not seem worth the stress...although on principle it is ridiculous that the bus and boarder police seem to be in on it together to get a few more bucks out of tourists but what can you do!

Fortunately our stop at Nakasang was not far from the boarder, we were dropped on the road out of town and piled on to a songthaew to take us the rest of the way. It was a bit of a squeeze and the sun had gone down by the time we organised a boat from Nakasang to Don Det (on of 4000 islands). Traveling on the Mekong in the dark was fun and the sky full of stars was incredible. As we landed on the island we expected the usual barrage of people trying to get you to go to their guesthouse but there was no one which was refreshing and allowed us to amble to find a bungalow on the river. We managed to find a great deal on a simple bungalow for only 35,000 kip per night (£2.70!) and had a great curry at Jasmine restaurant.

We had made it to Laos!!


Posted by doyledan 20:11 Archived in Laos

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