We really are enjoying our time in Lao. It’s a quiet land full of really friendly people. We’ve cruised the mekong several times, seen lots of pagodas, Khmer temples and French colonial buildings. We’ve met old friends, made new ones and said hello to at least half of the kids in the country.
But I know what all of you are thinking: “What do you mean by 4000 thousand island in the title? Lao is a country without sea! How can this be possible?” Wasn’t this crossing your mind? (The answer after this map to remind everybody where the Lao People’s Democratic Republic is).
So right there in the south, almost in the border with Cambodia there is an amazing place where the Mekong spreads creating more than 4000 islands. Most of them are tiny, but there are some big enough for having towns, and even a railway between two of them!
In the last years it has become a really touristy place, where people go to relax. Luckily for us it’s low season so we got a really great deal on a small bungalow literally over the Mekong. With hammocks overlooking the river!
It might be a bit too relaxing and if it was not because our friend Karen came to visit we might have got bored. We are always complaining saying that we don’t have enough time to relax, that we are always running everywhere, but the truth is that when we are too long in one place we get restless and have the feeling we are wasting time.
From there we went to some Khmer ruins a hundred kilometers away, at Champasak. Once here I guess it’s worth visiting, especially because the way was beautiful and putting our bikes on the most basic catamaran I’ve even seen was fun (and a bit scary). But after Angkor Wat it seems small and unimpressive, even though it’s set in a breathtaking place.
In Lao we are sleeping again in pagodas, and … It’s great! In Cambodia they always put really loud music, from really early in the morning till quite late in the evening, but not in Lao! Everything is peaceful, so we were able to rest without disturbances.
Karen’s birthday was coming up, so we decided to run to Thakhek to be with her for the occasion (and free dinner, of course). We haven’t done so many kilometers for a really long time. So the last day was really tough, especially for me. But we managed to do almost 400 km in three days, just on time for the celebration.
In Thakhek we were hosted by a lovely american family. It was great being at their place, we had lots of great food, and lots of peanut butter! But much more than the meals and the bed they offered, it was the homey feeling they shared. After so long, we had a real winter Sunday afternoon feeling, playing board games, drinking tea, sharing stories … Thank you very much!
And from here we kept going north to Vientiane, to the country’s capital. It’s a small town with not much to do. Luckily we were hosted by some foreign teachers and we hung around the expats for a couple of days, while we waited for our visas to Myanmar.
Apart from a few Pagodas, I visited every bookshop in town. I tried to expand my Little Prince book collection, but no luck! Most book sellers knew it, but informed me that it’s a really hard book to find. I guess I’ll have to wait till Luang Prabang to get it.
The city has a couple interesting vegan buffets, one of them (lucky Juice) serving some of the tastiest food I ever tried. So apart from eating there, there is nothing much we are doing. So as soon as we get our passports back with the new visa, we will continue north.