I spent the night in Sekong, a sort of wild-west type of frontier town. As far as I know I was the only Westerner there. This morning I got up early, grabbed a quick bowl of noodles, and hired a dugout to Attepeu - about 50 miles down river. It was a nice trip, except the weather was a bit foul, the sky was overcast and it sprinkled on and off for all of the six and a half hours that it took. The seating wasn't exactly first class either, not even business class. I was sitting on a bamboo mat at the bottom of the dugout, when I got out the backside of my pants were wet from my butt to my ankles. The very old boat was a hollowed out teak log. There were many cracks that let in a constant seepage, especially the ones that didn't have plastic bags stuffed in them. The boatman took all of this into consideration of course. He brought his wife along to serve as the nearly nonstop bailer and pusher, for the few times that we were stuck and they had to get out and drag it through the shallow spots.
Attepeu is a lot like Sekong. I walked around for a couple of hours and only saw three other Westerners. This area is the most remote part of Laos. Uncle Ho's Trail went right through here. I can't help but to think back about all of those A-1 E bomber's that I helped service. I am sure many of them were headed this way. All of these towns were leveled, that is why they are now so sprawling. They were sort of rebuilt here and there leaving big empty patches. The Lao people were in a lose / lose situation. According to the rules on engagement niether side was to be in Laos or Cambodia. The Vietamese said they weren't there and the US said that they weren't bombing there.