A Travellerspoint blog

4000 Islands (half of them underwater)

sunny 30 °C

Today we left Champasak. Back home there's a phrase - Up with the lark, over here it's - Up with the Laos. These folk like to get up early although after four weeks here it still hasn't become apparent why? They're all up at the crack of dawn but its unclear what the majority of them are doing. When you go into any restaurant to get food the first thing they do after taking your order is to go to the shop to buy the ingredients. You might innocently assume that they've already had most of the morning to sort that stuff out but that's never been the case. This morning we had to take a local songthaew (a covered truck with wooden seats) back into Pakse at 7am. We'd been warned that there was no ATM in the 4000 Islands so we had to get some cash for our last few days in Laos. Last night we'd organised the journey at our guesthouse and Ralf the German was going to accompany us. We were told to be ready to depart at 6.55 and we were up and at it a few minutes beforehand. I was greeted by Ralf at around 6.30am who was complaining about being woken by the dogs. He'd already been up an hour or so. Therefore I was pretty surprised when we wnere still waiting for him in the songthaew at 7.10 - so were the twenty or so local folk. Eventually he hopped in and off we went. I always thought that Germany was noteworthy for its timekeeping but it seems that's not the case with this lad.

On arrival in Pakse we hit the bank machine with gusto and headed to the bus station. Once again Ralf accompanied us - uninvited this time. At the bus station we were informed that there were no buses to the 4000 Islands but a songthaew would make the 4 hour journey. We threw our bags on the roof and headed off to get some breakfast. Big mistake. When we got back we were crammed into the back with twenty five or so others - but Ralf was riding shotgun in the front with the driver. Maybe I'm just jealous of other travellers but the cocoon in which some of them live never ceases to amaze me. They appear to think that everything should work the way they wish it to rather than having some sensitivity towards the country in which they travel in. Ralf is just one of those travellers I guess. Thankfully tonight he's sleeping on another island - I couldn't hack much more of him. The journey in the back of the squashed songthaew was infintely preferable to listening him drone on. As always the kids are a great icebreaker with the locals, they like to practice their English on them and me.

Compared to Champasak the 4000 Islands are buzzing but its all relative. As I write this its only 9pm and the whole place has gone to bed. They've switched the wi-fi off so I'll have to post this tomorrow. We'll get some bikes and travel around a little and maybe go on a daytrip to some other islands over the next couple of days. It's all a bit up in the air to be honest so we'll play it by ear. Low season here means its very quiet - whilst you have the pick of the accommodation it also means you're eating in empty restaurants most evenings. More trips to the shop every time you order.
Cambodia beckons and whilst looking forward to it I also get the feeling that it'll be pretty quiet there too. Caroline and myself treated ourselves to a massage in a French owned establishment in Champasak yesterday, a beautifully tranquil place in a gorgeous setting on the banks of Mekong. I think a little more of that might be required over the coming weeks if we're to get through our travels in one piece. A couple of weeks on a beach might also be required. Five weeks in and everything is going pretty well all considered. Joe and Paddy are still very picky eaters, Harry's pretty good, whilst Rosie has been a revelation. As a family we're getting to know each others idiosyncrancies a whole lot better than before which can only be a good thing - although it doesn't always feel that way. You just have to remind yourself how lucky you are to be able to do this and that will always keep you going. Onwards and downwards to Cambodia. Best foot forwards.

To finish I should point out how great this place is - four water buffalo have just stopped beside me to have a look at me and then moved on down the road. Only in Laos!

Posted by goldenmaverick 03:36 Archived in Laos

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They turn the wifi off! I'm never going to Laos. How's that tablet working out for you?

by Ross

check out the waterfalls.you can take a boat trip to them.i saw them in dry season and they were very impressive ,should be amazin now.
you can follow the old railway line accross to the far side of Don Khon to the ruins of the old French port and great views of the mekhong and more great mekhong sunsets.
i Didn't bother with the irrawaddy dolphins.
I forgot to mention the massage's before,very good and very cheap.its hard to believe that something that we see as such a luxury here is so common place there.its just something that people do there ,probably on the way back from the shop.there's a charity in Camdodia that trains blind masseuse's called seeing hands.their very good and you'll see them everywhere.
you'll have to try the fish cooked in bannana leaf in 4000 islands.bit of a local speciality and very tasty.
lovin the posts keep it up

by Finto

Sounds like you guys are having a great time, love reading through the posts dude, hopefully there will be some tails left to tell upon your return home. All good here, weather has been really poor. We all went to see the Stone Roses in the park last week, they were pretty good although their chemistry on stage seemed to lack any conviction. Darts have truly been put on hold, I'm sure we'll be back at it after the Picnic. Enjoy Cambodia and I'll be sure to check in again to see how you guys are getting along.

by Paule

as above, we saw the dolphins there too though... Cambodia is great also but just, well, different.

by richie

Ross - I can't believe they even have wifi in some of these places. no toilets but internet connectivity

Finto/Richie - we've been all over both islands at this stage. great waterfalls in this the rainy season, mekong is high, lots of rain at night, pretty dry during the day thankfully

Paulie - I can't wait for a game of darts

by goldenmaverick

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