So our main aim was to head to the south of Laos to get to the 4000 Islands,however 26 hours was not appealing, so instead thought we would do a stop over in the capital Vientiane. The journey took about 5 hours and was not too bad. We stopped at a place called sihome backpackers. It was a bit more pricey and ok, but the beds were so loud. We were in a dorm and anytime anyone moved the whole room shook. The showers were probably the best part about it.
That night I needed just some Kym time, so Nkosi took me to the night Bazaar … Which bizarrely only has 2 stalls. Safe to say not the most exciting ever. We decided to retire early and call time shorter than expected in Vientiane by catching the bus to our next destination the evening of the next day, giving us one full day to explore.
I’m extremely glad we had that day in the end. We went to visit the COPE museum. A museum set up dedicated to telling the story of Laos and the bombings it received during the Vietnam war. We watched a documentary which was highly moving. On the east side of Laos, in particular, the bombing was very intense. Across Laos today there is still estimated up to 75million unexploded bombs and it has a very big problem with UXO (unexploded ordnance). It was really moving to see what the country went through and how it still impacts every day life with bombs being found all of the time. It shows images and tells stories of children being injured or even killed by coming across the bombs and wanting to collect them to sell the metal. It showed show they have used the metal from the bombs to build houses and instruments to use in the home. COPE also supports survivors who need prosthetic limbs.
I truly had no idea just how impacted Laos was, and yet everyone is so welcoming. It was upsetting to attend the museum, but I am so glad I did. It really opened my eyes and I learnt so much. To read more go to their website http://www.copelaos.org
Hams story was so moving. Told via headphones in the words of his parent. He died after finding an unexploded bomb.
Afterwards we walked to the a Laos version of the Arc de Triumph, actually called the Patuxai, meaning the Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph. It reminded me very much of the one in Paris however this one was decorated with Laotian mythical creatures such as the Kinnari.
That evening we got picked up on our bus to make the 10 hour journey to the 4000 Islands right at the bottom of Laos. Our bus picked us up at 6pm but didn’t leave until 8pm. It’s a very odd scenario, you get a ticket and it’s for a bed…however the bed is double! It was ok fir me and Nkosi, but lone travellers have to share a bed with a stranger and the sex is not taken into consideration. My friend Tanisha had to share with a man, and my friend fabio had to share with 4 people! I found the bed ok, and I did manage to fall asleep, not before Nkosi though! He moaned slit saying the beds were not made for tall people..but he soon fell asleep. While he was pit cold, sandwiches included with the ticket were bought round. Tasha and Andrew both told me nit to wake Nkosi up to give him his, so instead I thought I’d save it for him and keep it at the bottom of the bed. I was woken mid journey by Nkosi shouting at me, asking why his foot was covered in a cheesy tuna ! Whoops! Sorry lad! Anyway 10 hours later, lots of snoring, we arrived at Pakse. We then had to get a bus from Pakse to the 4000 Islands. Thus was meant to take 4 hours, it actually took 6. Stressed but relieved, we get on a boat and head to Don Det on a rickety little boat. Once here we look around and settle on some bungalows called the sunset bungalows. Just in time to watch sunset… I knew I would like it here and the perfect little detox after vang Vieng!
Bye for now!!