Matt and Cynthia's Odyssey travel blog

Today was an interesting travel day. Cambodian Visas in hand, we left Vientiene first thing in the morning to make our way down to South Lao. We thought we would break our journey in what sounded like a nice little village on the Nam Kading River called Pak Kading. You would think that we would hesitate a bit to seek out little villages after what happened in Vieng Kham Well, we boarded the bus in Vientiene around 10am and arrived in Pak Kading close to 3pm. The bus was a virtual sweatbox but I was amused for most of the ride by a monk with a pet monkey seated in front of me (yes, I am quite serious). Anyway, we got to Pak Kading and almost as soon as we got off the bus, we knew we were in the wrong place. No one spoke English which isn't unusual but it was unusual that the locals had not the least bit of general Lao goodwill to show us where we could spend the night or get a meal. It was like some sort of traveler's twilight zone. After about fifteen minutes of being completely ignored (as if I didn't exist) I told Matt that we were going to have to leave somehow. Right about that time, I saw a local songthaew pull up and we gratefully jumped on to go to the next town, Phonsi. The locals in Phonsi were friendly as ever but the only guesthouse in town had over-priced rooms so I wasn't too excited to stay. We talked about it and decided to keep going so we sat by the road with all of our bags and waited for the next bus headed south. We didn't have to wait long and the bus that we hopped on was a real trip. The back of the bus, underneath the seats and the aisle (front to back) was stacked with 50 kilo sacks of laundry detergent. There were seats available but getting to them was another story entirely. After much crawling, hovering and body contortions we did get seats and a few minutes later the bus stopped to let everyone off to buy snacks. I definitely wasn't going to go through that obstacle course again but Matt got off to buy some snacks for us because we hadn't yet eaten. He bought some potato chips and several bags of generic Oreos, which I liked very much. I noticed that every time I ate a cookie, the man across the aisle from me stared and it was obvious that he wanted one. I held out the package for him to take a cookie and he gleefully grabbed the whole pack. He then proceeded to take out a cookie, twist it apart and, while popping half into his mouth, handed me the other half with the cream. I smiled and took it; we went on this way through the entire pack but he always handed me the half with the cream.

We finally arrived, exhausted, several hours later in the town of Tha Khaek. We thought we would spend the night and possibly see a few sights in the morning. We shared a tuk-tuk with the old man from the bus and a few other locals. We headed for a guesthouse that sounded nice in our guidebook but at this point, I think we would have spent the night just about anywhere. In less than 12 hours we had traveled on 2 buses, 2 tuk-tuks and 1 songthaew- I think this was a record for us. The guesthouse turned out to be comfortable and we ate a good meal, showered and went to bed.

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