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Published: April 8th 2008
Awake just after 6:30am and back to the Bus station to find out what time the bus is due to leave. 6:50 and we are told that it leaves at 7am. No English but we work out that it leaves from down the road and around the corner. Rush back to the hotel. Ian rushes up to the room, packs and throughs the packs down the stairs to me.
Down the road we go to find out that the bus is the other side of the river. Onto a small long boat and we are hurrying up the hill to the bus. What hurry, it did not leave until 8 am.
Again the same story as yesterday - people, goods and livestock onto the bus except today not as many people and the bus works. The added bonus is that we are here on the right day. The bus only runs 4 days a week.
Into my seat with my feet siting atop braziers and we head off up a road that is more compacted rock than road. We start to climb to the first of many peaks that we will travel today. The valleys stretching many hundred
of meters below until I realise that we are looking down on clouds nestled between the mountains. The valley floors, where the river has cut its path into small plains is alive with villages and farming. Mountain tribes by the side of the roads selling what they are able gain from the land and mountains.
We stop at one small mountain village and it occurs to me. Children are almost the same the world over - they play, they laugh and they make do with what they have. One thing is for certain that they are all loved and cared for as best can be.
We continue to climb over peaks and descend into valleys, each bringing new and changing scenes, our bus even does basic 4wheel driving as we cross mountain streams that cut accross the road. each hill that we climb ascends higher than the last until about midday when we reach the highest point of our trip which is also the border point between Laos and Vietnam. The crossing was easy and efficient and all up took no more than half an hour we simply had to show our passports and get them stamped as
we left Laos then back into the bus to drive the 800m to the Vietnamese border station where we had to show our passports and visas and fill out the standard imigration forms and we were officially in yet another country so much faster than doing it at the airport.
back on the bus once more and now on good sealed roads we begin the descent out of the mountains to our destination for today Dien Bien Phu. It is amazing what a difference can happen in a short distance. The vietnamese side of the mountains is considerably drier and warmer than the Laos side of the mountains. Tghis side is also considerably more heavily populated and every available inch of lnd is being utilised. The valley floor that Dien Bien Phu is located in loks like a giant green patchwork quilt of rice paddies as far as the eye can see and the housing is far more dense than we have seen far yhe last few days.
Finally after 5 1/2 hours we reached the bus stop and were mighty glad to get off the bus and we were both looking forward to finding a room to
have a shower and somewhere to get a bight to eat we've only just realised that our last meal was a baguette at the bus station in Luang Prabang about 36 hours ago.
We found a good hotel in town got some money changed had a meal and were generally feeling pleased with ourselves so it was time to go and explore Dien Bien Phu a little before dinner. It is a compact little town that is flat and so very easy to walk around so we just strplled around for a couple of hours till we stumbled accross a small restaurant. This was great fun our combined knowledge of Vietnamese extended to just one word, pho (noodle soup) which was not on the evenings menu and the owners English was only marginally better but with a lot of pointing and laughin we soon had a great dinner of stir fried tofu with tomato and a simple pork and vegetable stir fry, simple and delicious as well as a few beers, great value as the whole meal cost us just over $4.00.
Dinner finished we strolld back to the hotel ready for a shower and an early night
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