The drive from Vietnam to Laos began with slight confusion as everyone on the bus was heading to different destinations but after a couple of hours we stopped at Dong Ha and everyone was shepherded to the relevant bus, or in our case, a death trap. The comfortable first leg of the journey gave way to memories of Thai mini bus journeys as our driver made the 75 km trip to the border in about 10 minutes traveling an average speed of jesus christ per hour. We eventually arrived in Savannakhet after another bus transfer and went for a look around.
Laos has the prestigious honor of being the most bombed nation in the history of warfare. During the Vietnam conflicts U.S bombers returning from bombing raids would drop their excess load over the Laos side in order to complete their drop quota. Between 1964 and 1973 Laos was engaged in a secret war that the rest of the world was oblivious to. The war had raged for centuries but during these years a number of countries went against the Geneva convention which forbade the presence of foreign military personnel and located troops in the country. The secret air force
known as the Ravens dropped on average one plane load of bombs every eight minutes for nine years. 1.9 million tons of bombs were dropped over laos and cost the U.S tax payer over 2 million dollars every day, nothing like a good military cover-up, i wonder if Iraq will have the same history in 20 years?
Savannakhet although a pleasant small town nestled alongside the Mekong river boasts nothing to do except wait for the next bus out of town, and all the people we spoke to were doing exactly the same. We arrived in Vientiane the next day which for a capital city at times felt more like a ghost town as its 500,000 residents are generally tucked up in bed by 10pm. This allows for a quiet, laid back atmosphere and quickly became our favorite city so far, no hassle, no worries. The few days we spent in Vientiane were laid back to say the least and consisted of plenty of aimless wondering , pointing and pondering. The currency over here means that to get any kind of money from the bank it is dependant on carrying around a small wheel barrow in order to buy
wow, empty crates
this was one of the highlights of the tour, seriously
a pate laiden baguette. Whilst in the bank we witnessed a number of people carrying large bin bags full of money, safe in the knowledge that if they were robbed it would take more than one person to carry the loot, and for their light fingered handywork they would only be able to purchase a can of coke. After withdrawing 2 million kip each it was apparent that instead of toasting our new found millionaire status with Don Perignon, cheap plonk and tortilla chips would have to surfice. We took a trip out to the Beer Lao factory to see what makes this national treasure so popular with the locals and try to unearth the secrets behind the lack of hangovers it results in. The tour began with a boost as we were presented with a free sample of said nectar, this however was the highlight. We were led around it seemed by one of the people from the deaf and mute restaurant in Hue, as questions and explanations were clearly not on the agenda. The whirlwind tour took around 4 minutes during which time we were shown where the bottles are washed, where the bottles are labeled, and where
the bottles are packed, interesting. After we were ushered to the gates we barely realised we had been around the factory, another productive day.
The time in Vientiane flew past and after a few days we made our way to Vang Vieng.
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