Drive Around The World (Australia)

One family, one car, one year, one planet

Tha Thom, Laos – Dom Kralor, Cambodia, Day 299 – 306, 5 – 13 February, 2009

Tha Thom, Laos – Dom Kralor, Cambodia

Day 299 – 306

5 – 13 February, 2009

1,820km

Total: 30,103km

Soundtrack:

‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ – Oasis

‘Saturday Night Fish Fry’ – Louis Jordan

‘Border Crossing’ – David Olney

‘The Great Big No’ – The Lemonheads

‘No No Song’ – Ringo Starr

‘Idiot Grin’ – Do-Re-Mi

‘Tears Of Rage’ – Bob Dylan

‘The Disappointed’ – XTC
‘They Made A Mistake’ – Afrika Bambaata

‘Nature of Power’ – Vince Jones

 

DB: Sandy was met at the open front door of the dusty Tha Thom Guesthouse by a girl about the same age as our Raffy. She spoke no English and our Lao was rusty, to say the least, but with pointing, hand actions and the ever-present smiles that seem to be an innate part of Lao culture we were provided with a small, dark room.

The sun was now below the horizon of forest and houses, but flicking light switches didn’t improve the situation. The girl shook her head and instead provided us with a few candles that had been melted on to the tops of empty soft drink cans. Upon further investigation it seemed that the entire town was in fact wired for electricity and all the houses had new retro-fitted cables and lights, but none of it worked, save for the few fluorescent globes hooked up to car batteries. We remain unsure if all the wiring in Tha Thom was completed before electricity actually got there, if this was a regular power outage, or if someone just forgot to pay the bill.

In the fading light we went for a stroll along the track, past small restaurants and homes with children playing joyfully out the front and animals rummaging for the last morsels of food before heading home to bed. We were parched and settled in at a restaurant for lemonade and Beerlao which, in one local guidebook we found, was recommended above local drinking water and seemed to be consumed on a similar scale. Very quickly we became a local spectacle, like the circus had rolled into town. People came and watched us from the street while children played games and performed tricks for our amusement. Raffy and Maddy began a game of football with an old plastic bottle and, in turn, made the Lao kids laugh.

A young man in a white shirt approached us and introduced himself. In his halting English we asked about each other, about where we lived and our families. It turned out he was a former local and now the Deputy Governor of the Phonsavan district. A ‘big macher’ perhaps, but eager to chat and a friendly soul for us to learn more about this wondrous land.

Between the good food, smiling hosts, the quiet and stillness of the land and the Laolao (local rice moonshine) that was provided complimentarily by the man of the house we felt sated and rather privileged. We were told that very few Farang (foreigners) come to Tha Thom, and hence we became appreciative of this special occasion.

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(Pic: Being closely watched, Tha Thom, Laos)

The morning, like all Lao mornings, broke rather harshly with shrill and defiant rooster calls echoing through the town and hills well before dawn. Almost every household had its own brood of hens, scampering chicks and very large, brightly coloured roosters that strut about like a dude in a new leather coat on Chapel Street. It’s as if the roosters call out to each other at all hours, asking each other if it is in fact wakeup time, and who keep asking the question and providing answers and suggestions until the sun is in fact up, and then some. Perhaps the poultry version of “are we there yet?” I, and I’m sure our neighbours, am very glad we only kept chickens of the female variety at home. Many of these roosters are used in organised cockfights, but, unlike in Thailand and other countries, they aren’t kitted up with nasty blades on their legs to inflict even more damage.

While the good folk of Tha Thom were up and about late in the night, talking in groups, promenading and riding rickety bikes, they were again up and about when the sky was merely suggesting orange and the sun was yet to show its face. We made breakfast, including baguettes with the Vegemite donated to us by Caroline Gaylard in Luang Prabang, and hit the road.

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(Pic: Maddy and Raffy refill the washer reservoir in the truck before another day in the mud and dust, Tha Thom, Laos)

The track continued where it left off – dusty and shifting in places, boggy and slimy in others, and large rocks and potholes just to keep things interesting. But eventually the track became a road of sorts and pretty soon we were making up some time heading towards Paksan.

Little did we know, but we had been spoilt by the glorious Lao countryside and villages, and so Paksan, being just another city, didn’t really shake our tree.

SK: In Vientiane we had bought a Colin Cotterill novel, ‘Thirty Three Teeth’, set in Laos, that begins with the story of a wild black bear caught and kept in a cage in the grounds of a posh hotel. We briefly toyed with the idea of staying in Paksan, so Raff and I went so far as to check out one of the hotels located on the San River. While I was speaking with the staff, Raffy had gone to explore out the back, and came breathlessly running back in. There was a bear, he gasped, in the back garden. And indeed there was. He towed me outside, and together we watched as this grand animal mournfully got to its feet as we approached its cage. As the novel was set in the 1970s, I assumed this practice was dated, but apparently keeping wild animals for the amusement of guests is still alive and kicking. (Unlike the bear which was just the former and barely the latter.)

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(Pic: Righto kids, get your bathers on – this might get damp. Outside of Tha Thom, Laos)

DB: In the vicinity of Paksan, though, was the Tham Kong Lo (Tham meaning cave), where, like the average American film, A River Runs Through It. Through lush, green forest on a reasonably flat, sealed road that was for the most part deserted, the tarmac wound, climbed and twisted through mountains and valleys that were largely deserted. Sandy and the kids were a tad green by the time we stopped, but I, perhaps selfishly, had a ball. What a brilliant road! We paused for the view of ‘sala’ – extraordinary escarpments and rock formations that were mesmerising. The haze of the tropical air and the incessant buzz of insects gave the area a prehistoric aura.

Around a bend we discovered a semi-trailer laying on its side in the vegetation, Beerlao crates strewn about and a couple of rather sheepish-looking truckies squatting by the wreck and gazing back at the road. I wondered how often the driver had been slapped on the back of the head to a chorus of “You eediot! How many times do I have to tell you that the middle one’s the brake?” We would see this scene repeated a few more times to come.

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(Pic: You traded the Bluesmobile for this? Near Paksan, Laos)

Ban Khoun Kham (also known as Ban Na Hin, for some reason – ‘Ban’ meaning ‘village’) is a rather non-descript town that provided us with a guesthouse of comfy beds (we had become used to using our own mattresses and sleeping bags to turn a ‘double’ room into a family one) and a welcoming restaurant. After our rocky ride through the jungle we decided to take it easy for a couple of days. The guesthouse was located out of town in amongst the trees and escarpments of the Hin Boun valley, and, even though the swimming pool that was to be completed by 2008 remained a dirt hole, the beds were comfy and the shower hot.

The 7km long Tham Kong Lo was a sight to behold – truly a river running through an entire mountain. After a leisurely 40km amble along a quite dirt road (and paying for entrance into the national park, and paying for parking – these Laotians are certainly cottoning on to a market economy) we chartered a narrow canoe and a couple of local guides and headed into the darkness. In fact it was here when language created a little confusion before all was revealed. In negotiating the park entrance fee the attendant pointed to three of the four of us and said “Hah, hah, hah.” At first I thought he was having a lend of us, and we were the big joke. But Maddy came to the rescue and worked out that “ha” was Lao for five, and that we had to pay five thousand kip for three of us, while Raffy got in free.

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(Pic: Raffy and Maddy chat about the amazing ‘sala’ before them, near Ban Khoum Kham, Laos)

The boat guides – one driving the small outboard motor at the rear and one at the front – wore miner’s lights on their heads, sweeping the dark cave (which at one point is up to ninety meters wide and 100 meters high) and river with dim light to ensure we weren’t introduced to any unexpected obstacles, such as a rock the size of a London bus. We had one small torch, but the blackness seemed to simply consume and nullify any light, rendering the torch insignificant. For the most part we thought we were in the enormous, yawning cave alone.

We stopped to admire some of the eerie cave formations – stalactites and mites, strange shapes in the rocks caused by aeons of erosion from the river and long tree roots reaching deep from the cave roof in search of water – but for the most part we happily puttered along and enjoyed the pitch black experience (Sandy mostly tolerating being in a tunnel under a few million tonnes of rock, but she tried desperately hard not to think about that). At times, due to it being dry season, we had to get out of the boat and help drag it across the smooth pebbles of the riverbed a few metres to the next lot of deeper water.

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(Pic: The lifejackets provided for our trip in the Tham Kong Lo  didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence)

Upon reaching the end we came into daylight. Squinting into the initially harsh brightness we found ourselves in a wide part of the gentle river banked by lush trees and shrubs, where we stopped for a rest and where a few enterprising locals had set up stalls of food and drink, and then turned around and did it all again. 

Retracing our route back up and through the mountains from Ban Khoun Kham we again passed the fallen Beerlao truck, which, instead of being righted, seemed to be undergoing a humiliating dismantling. It was as if the truck and trailer had given up the ghost and the vultures had settled in for a slap-up meal, complete with ale. And then, not 500m further back up the mountain, a newer truck carcass lay on its side in the bush, again replete with truckies sporting hangdog faces, squatting by the lorry’s side and scratching their heads. Either Laos has too many trucks, too many cowboys or too much partaking of the payload.

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(Pic: Emerging from the darkness of Tham Kong Lo, Laos)

SK: We had read about a cave, Pha Pa, recently discovered by a local villager half way up a mountain, that was full of Buddha statues thought to have been placed there over 600 years ago. Intrigued, we turned off the highway, bumped along a dusty road, and then pulled up to pay the ubiquitous parking fee. We walked through a local market at the base of the mountain set up to feed and water visitors. We then paid the cave entry, I paid to hire a traditional skirt to cover my own, and we trudged up the stairs to the cave. We were in the company of many Thai and Lao pilgrims, who once in the cave lit incense, prayed, were blessed and at every opportunity handed over currency. The air in the cave was hot and pungent; it reverberated with the sounds of gongs and murmured prayers. It had the aura of a holy site. On the drive out, however, we did muse on the coincidence of the finding of the cave and the subsequent economic benefits derived from the mostly Thai visitors.

DB: Savannakhet was essentially Just Another Town, although it did boast a number of alluring French colonial buildings and boulevards. We found a small restaurant that provided Lao barbeque, perhaps called ‘Sindad’ – we never got the definitive title – an ingenious invention where a clay pot filled with hot coals is placed in a hole in the middle of the table, and is covered by a pan that holds liquid around the edge and is raised and convex in the middle, with small holes to allow the heat through. We were then served containers of raw vegetables (cabbage, morning glory, beans, sprouts), herbs, noodles, tofu and egg, which we cooked in stock, and another dish of raw fish (while other meats are available) which we barbequed, and ate until we were set to explode. We have since purchased the aforementioned implements and plan to have a go at it when we get home. Please book in advance.

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(Pic: Raffy and Maddy cook up a ‘Sindad’ storm at our restaurant table, Savannakhet, Laos)

Before heading off the next morning we turned into a local tyre barn to yet again top up the slow-leaking tyre that is, it seems, irreparable. Usually I just pull into a petrol station and use their air compressor but in Laos there is a distinct separation of trades: petrol from one place, air at another. Of course, the further into rural Asia we head the less people speak English, and our Lao is only just getting off the ground, but finally, after attempts at pointing and hand gestures, we came upon the universal word for ‘air in a tyre’.

“Psssshhhht!”

“Yes, that’s it,” I replied excitedly. “Psssshhhht!” We were treated like royalty, where, embarrassingly, other customers were promptly ignored so that our tyres should be checked. Attendants directed our truck into the workspace like the ground crew at an airport and the Senior Air Filler Guy got to work. They accepted no payment and waved us goodbye from the driveway.

Savannakhet also reintroduced us to the awkward reality of begging. In Thailand beggars seem few and far between, and similarly in the major centres in Laos, such as Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Yet given Laos is such a relatively poor country that is still trying to find its way and at the same time hold true to its communist convictions it wasn’t all that surprising that dishevelled young women holding small children asked for handouts, or when the children themselves asked for money or food.

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(Pic: Sunset at Savannakhet, Laos)

We are often instinctively drawn to provide something as simple and, for us, plentiful, as food to children who are in need. There is little more heartbreaking than a hungry kid. However in Laos we needed to remain aware of the bigger picture. It seems that, even though primary school is made available to all Lao children, sometimes they are pressured into working, such as becoming street vendors selling souvenirs to tourists – or begging – to help support a family. And so it is incumbent on visitors to the country to dissuade children from leaving school, even if the short-term gain is so attractive to them, or their parents.

It is also no secret that human predators of the worst kind trawl the cities and towns of Laos, as well as neighbouring countries, in search of vulnerable children. Child abuse is a significant concern and efforts are being made by the Lao government and NGOs to raise awareness of the crime and provide opportunities for people to report suspicious behaviour. Posters depicting an adult western male holding hands with a Lao child with the slogan “Don’t turn away”, with the next image of a man in handcuffs with the title “Turn them in” are prevalent throughout the country. Laos is also a source of people forced into prostitution in Thailand, and a transit country for enslaved people from Burma and Vietnam. Not all rosy, it seems.           

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(Pic: “Buddha On Board”, Savannakhet, Laos)

So, we tried being careful about not encouraging children to be on the streets and instead go to school. This, of course, was hard going when a child motions to you that they need food to eat, and provided impetus for much discussion in the truck for the next few days.

Pakse proved to be an interesting town, again full of relics of the French but also calm and inviting. We unloaded into a hotel that was, by our standards, pretty schmick, and explored. Afternoon tea at a French patisserie satisfied the soul.

We used Pakse as a base to delve into the Bolaven Plateau, noted for its coffee plantations. Our guidebooks and various advice seemed to indicate that the area was somewhat akin to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia: undulating, scenic, temperate and a bastion of European occupation that has stubbornly stuck. Instead, what we really found was a community struggling with a single crop economy, and only very recently organising themselves to overcome the dire constraints of overzealous western corporations collaborating to pay a pittance for their wares. The new co-operative has given them a serious leg-up, but this was still a far cry from the wealthy plantations of other regions.

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(Pic: Drying coffee beans in the sun, Bolivan Plateau, Laos)

Given coffee was almost the only source of income in this area, we thought we’d give it a go. We stopped in the middle of a small village where coffee beans were spread over tarpaulins to dry in the hot sun, with farmers slowly yet methodically sweeping and turning the beans to ensure they dried evenly. But our coffee experience was uneventful. We entered a dirt floor store that was simply the front room of an extended family’s rustic home and attempted to make ourselves understood. ‘Lao Caffe’ was the order of the day in most parts, but here a determined shop keep only pointed us towards that crime of coffee, Nescafe. We wondered if we just couldn’t communicate effectively, if the locals actually didn’t give a toss about this weird, exotic bean, or, like on kibbutzim in Israel, that it was simply more profitable for them to flog all the produce they had to the co-op and sell the crap to others instead.

SK: The Bolevan Plateau is also home to numerous waterfalls, which we dutifully visited, often parking next to behemoth buses garishly spray painted with Disney characters.  We trooped around these magnificent natural sites, and eventually gave in to the temptation to join the other visitors in their “I’m a tourist, look at me” poses.

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(Pic: Maddy’s important life lesson, Bolivan Plateau, Laos)

DB: Further south we entered an area known as the Mekong’s Four Thousand Islands, or Si Phan Don. There’s no definitive tally on just how many bits of soil that poke out of the water here, and the tally alternates depending on the season, and how much water is flowing, but still it was as impressive as its name.

En route we made a slight detour to the extraordinary Wat Phu Champasak.

Considered the most sacred site in southern Laos, there is evidence of structures built here as early as the 5th century BCE. The entire site is enormous – over 1km in length, and is constructed over three levels with a road that supposedly leads from the site to Angkor in Cambodia.

Wat Phu Champasak had been the site of a three-day festival that finished the day before we got there. We had thought about visiting during its final day but were scared away by the crowds. A day later, all that was left were workers dismantling stages and pavilions, various stall holders sleeping in the shade and tonnes of litter, including thousands of spent incense sticks. Once again the sheer volume of refuse detracted from the overall splendour of such an ancient, sacred place.

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(Pic: The view from Wat Phu Champasak, Laos)

The going was hot. In fact, half way up the crumbling, uneven stairway to the top level of the Wat Maddy and Raffy engaged in one of their first ever sit-down protests. We Shall Not Be Moved. Fair enough. Still, Sandy and I pushed on and had a gander at various ancient structures and rock formations that, if you shut one eye, squinted and then spun around quickly looked almost exactly like the elephant and crocodile after which they are now named. Most of the buildings had collapsed upon themselves, the ground now littered with blocks of stone that were once meticulously placed and constructed to form temples and shrines. Most of the good stuff, such as statues and decorative reliefs were housed in the adjacent museum, but most of these didn’t really provide enough information about them.

The road to Ban Hat was fair to middling, with the standard number of fauna, folk and modes of transport weaving through the dusty streets. It was here where the road ended and we were to board a car ferry across the Mekong to Don Khong island. It took us a while to actually find where the ferry was to meet us as there was little indication of any formal ramp or landing – just a couple of dirt tracks that sloped downwards to the river. We had seen the Lao version of a car ferry in Luang Prabang and didn’t expect much – this was not going to be any large, white liner with cafes, bars, comfy couches and a duty free shop, like in Europe.

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(Pic: Wat Phu Champasak, Laos)

Sandy pointed and gesticulated with some locals and we found that we were indeed in the right place and that the ferry would come over from the other side – sometime soon. We could see a couple of vessels on the other shore but it seems they were waiting for more cargo and passengers before pushing off. No timetables here – just critical mass.

Finally the contraption came over, disgorged its contents and was ready for us and a few others. The ferry was actually three narrow river boats that at one time were probably used for fishing, lashed together side-by-side and with a flat timber platform laid on top. The engine and driving compartment seemed a late afterthought, as was the method in which you actually drive on and off the thing. The ramps were on the port and starboard sides of the platform, while the ferry travelled at right angles to it. So, the pilot would deftly slide the ferry sideways into the shore, hoping the behemoth would land in a place where vehicles could actually drive on and off, and repeat the manoeuvre on the other side.

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(Pic: All aboard – the truck on the car “ferry’, Don Khong, Laos)

We loped on to the platform hoping the boat wouldn’t tip and were joined by a couple of utes and a ubiquitous south-east Asian ute-taxi – which is a ute with the luxury of a roof over the rear tray so that passengers don’t get too wet or blown away. A few pedestrians also boarded the ferry as well as a number of women lugging snacks and drinks. Ah, this would be the lounge! It was bizarre being in deepest rural Laos on a rickety boat and being offered western soft-drinks through the open window of our truck.

About ten minutes later we were reversing the procedure on the sandy bank of Don Khong and very quickly we were in the village of the same name. We chose a guesthouse and quickly settled in to their restaurant built on the river in view of some of the islands. As the sun set we watched fishermen in small, slender boats casting nets and checking traps until the only light available was two forlorn neons on the ceiling of the open-air restaurant and the moon. There were only a couple of others in the restaurant but the lights that our hosts chose to switch on were as far away from our tables as possible. This, it transpired, was not the workings of an affected grunge dive floor manager, but intended to divert the billions of tiny insects away from our repast and instead towards the opposite side of the building where fat geckos took their time to select the tastiest morsels from this vertical smorgasbord.

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(Pic: Sunset at Don Khong (with a wat in the background), Laos)

We woke the next morning rather excitedly – another day, another exotic country. Today we would head south and across the border into Cambodia. The drive would take us about an hour, during which Maddy and Raffy began revising some basic Cambodian words and phrases in preparation for our newest locale.

The Lao passport control post jumped out at us like an ambush: one minute we were tooling along admiring the scenery and the next a long bamboo pole was draped across the road. I slowed down as quickly as possible without smoking the tyres but ended up just under the slightly raised boom gate and to the left of centre so as not to take the entire contraption with us. Here, Sandy organised the stamping out of our Carnet, as well as the US$1 per passport ‘Administration Fee’ (no receipt, no questions, no answers) and then a little further on our passports were stamped out. A few hundred metres south would be the Cambodian border.

The border post at Dom Kralor – really a couple of bamboo and thatch huts – was occupied by a ramshackle group of officials who probably did something in a past life to deserve to be posted out here. Nonetheless, one immigration official who stumbled through English greeted us and requested that we sort the car business out before he dealt with our passports. Interesting, we thought.

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(Pic: Customs ‘building’ at the Lao/Cambodian border)

Then we were introduced to Customs Officer #346. The world needs to know the identity of this disgraceful specimen as it is my intention to have him banished to fiery gates of hell, or the Collingwood cheer squad, forthwith.

Customs Officer #346 reluctantly dragged his sorry, flabby arse over to us, along with his look of utter distain and disinterest, took one look at our paperwork and shook his sweating, jowly head. He spoke no English and directed the immigration official to translate for us. What we were told was that he didn’t ‘recognise’ our paperwork, and that we required a whole new set of bits of paper. It reminded me of the old Robin Williams gag: how do you recognise paperwork? “Didn’t I meet you last year at the Feinman barmitzvah?” I demanded to see examples of the papers he was demanding and he retreated to his bark hut to show me. Here, he proudly presented roughly roneoed papers that provided exactly the same information as that on our carnet: name, address, car registration, engine number, chassis number, contents, etc. But for his royal flabbiness, no dice. He was unmoved that every country we have visited acquiesces to this internationally recognised document, that we know for certain that Cambodia certainly does, and that there was no reason why we couldn’t drive in.

So, I requested the Cambodian forms to fill out for him, but that, it seems, wasn’t possible either.

“Leave your car here (in the middle of the bush) and go to Phnom Penh to sort it out,” was this overweight overlord’s suggestion. Yeah. Good one. Leave our vehicle and our possessions in limbo (theoretically in no-man’s land between the Lao and Cambodian borders) and try and get a lift a few hundred kilometres away – for what? The other suggestion? Talk to the Cambodian embassy in Canberra. Haw haw haw, good one.

We begged him to contact a senior authority to explain the situation, but he just laughed, flashing his gold teeth and shaking his clammy cheeks. We asked what else we could do to alleviate the impasse, with me making the US dollars poking out of my pocket rather obvious, but he simply turned on his heels.

Lunchtime.

So there we were, in a rather baking heat, and El Rotundo has sauntered off to add to his considerable girth. I asked the immigration official what he thought I should do and he suggested I go and speak with him.

And with that I essentially walked across the Cambodian border without actually being officially admitted. I found Jabba the Hut already chowing down, glancing at me with a stupid grin on his overfed, damp face and suggested we continue our conversation. He ignored me. So, I made a show of writing down his identification – Customs Officer #346. At this point he raised his glass of hot tea and made to aim for me. Top bloke. Brave, too. All I wanted was to go and spend hard currency in his country and he wanted to disfigure my face. Needless to say, I made a hasty retreat.

We were summarily and embarrassingly defeated. For the first time on this entire trip we were being told “no,” and there seemed no way around it. And not for any good reason, but simply some bulbous bureaucrat decided “no.” We knew we were in the right, and that we had the justification, means and the impetus, but that obviously wasn’t good enough. We even know of people who had driven foreign vehicles into Cambodia quite recently. That night I spoke to Jon Faine and he suggested we try again at a different border because he and Jack effortlessly sailed through only six months ago or so.

I spied the dusty driveway that left the road just before the Cambodian boom gate that went through the dust to the other side of the gate, and thought about getting in touch with my inner maverick by simply driving around the official border crossing through the scrub. Then I visualised a posse of Cambodian officials leaning out of trucks and taking pot shots at us, and thought better of it.

It has since been explained that the potential for losing face is culturally an abomination, and so sometimes some people in these parts will simply make things up in an act of self preservation. Perhaps Customs Officer #346 refused to call someone in higher authority for fear of being viewed as incompetent (which he obviously was, but he was never going to admit it in a pink, porky fit), but it struck me as a rather problematic method of running a country. If you don’t know the answer, make it up.

And so, with figurative tail between our collective legs, we turned around, sprayed dust and stones into Customs Officer #346’s little bamboo booth in our (ok, my) last ditch attempt at making a robust, defiant and albeit infantile point, and headed back for Pakse, for lack of any other plan. Fortunately the Lao immigration and customs people were happy, though slightly bemused, for us to return and stamped us back into the country, a mere 20 minutes after we had left. But we didn’t even get our US$1 per person ‘Administration Fee’ back.

What do we do now?

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(Pic: Raffy and a playmate in a dusty playground in Pakxe, with intrigued onlookers)

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10 Comments»

  luxury hotels thailand wrote @

Really nice blog. So beautyful.

  Jacqui (from wongarra near Apollo Bay Vic) wrote @

I have been following your trip since reading your web address on Jon & Jack Faines’ Blog
You are having an enormous adventure and I admire your intestinal fortitude.
Enjoying you travel log very much I llok forward to the next update
Keep well and safe
Jacqui

  drivearoundtheworld wrote @

Great to have you aboard Jacqui – maybe we’ll look you up on the way home!

Cheers

Danny

  Hilary wrote @

i see you are becoming cheeky the closer you get to home, leaving your devoted readers with a cliffhanger at the end of these recent episodes. you think it goes unnoticed? still i did enjoy the vicarious tour of the extraordinarily exotic laos, including whimsical side tours. good on you sandy for braving the cave! sounds like it was well worth it.
i hereby book myself in for a sindad dinner please. no rush. i still have food.
hx

  drivearoundtheworld wrote @

It’s a date – assuming we go home.

d

  Mike wrote @

Just passing by.Btw, your website have great content!

  Miss Andrea wrote @

This beerlao certainly gets a good rap – you’ll have to stash some in the luggage for your visitors whe you get back! See you all, eventually. xxxx

  Dale wrote @

I just can’t wait to see what the Nissan has to throw at me by the time you all get home! Korny is into the bottom end of WA and sends his best wishes. The twelve month gastro diet will have you all looking trim and buffed. Hope everyone is well now. The time has flown since you left. Cheers. Dale

  mad wrote @

Hi guys,
did you know that plastic computers are better than metal ones! Geddit, geddit?
i’ve forgotton about all the coffee beans drying in the sun… just proves what a dud brain i have!
luv mad

  drivearoundtheworld wrote @

Oh for goodness’ sake. Get back to class, you slacker!


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