#29 – Laos (Paksong, Sekong, Salavan)

After two weeks of doing nothing physically, the first day went directly 1200 m high. Past waterfalls and jungle-like forests. It was beautiful. But hard.

Coffee is also grown in Laos and most of it is exported to Vietnam. There it is exported as Vietnamese coffee. I did not take photos of plantations

Fruit, meat, almost everything can be found on the side of the road. The whole thing without permission, safety regulations, trade licence, taxes and other imaginary costs.

Unfortunately, I must have a cold or something. I am a little weak and the way to the 1300m altitude was very weird.
At the top I bought as a reward a kilo mango for 1 euro and 1 kg bananas for 50 cents. I also got rice for 50 cents and dinner could begin.
I must say, I felt very well in Pakse. I will miss the place. Just like Don Det.

Typical in Laos/Vietnam

I changed my route to small roads and a camping symbol on the map. A little detour. The road was rocky and full of holes.

Totally red and dusty I stood at my destination, in front of a fenced area. It is a camp site. Probably a sleeping place for workers from the area. Access was only possible with state permission. Ok, the access before 15 km into the region also, but the man at the barrier saw me, opened his mouth in amazement and dropped the chain, which functioned as a barrier.
So the way was in vain. So back to the main road. I was full of reddish dust. It was about 16 km there and 16 km back.
On the main road I found this place.

I slept near a cliff. Opposite was a waterfall. What a wonderful natural spectacle. Then clouds hung at the waterfall and far away flashes of lightning. It just looked beautiful.
In the night it rained quite strongly, fast my tent stood in the mud. The ground under the tent was very soft 🙂
In the morning, when I saw strange spiders, giant centipedes and a scorpion, I wanted to leave quickly. I guess I’m still a city person. You even have to be careful when taking down your tent.

Unfortunately, my knee’s been hurting for two days. My cold isn’t dramatic, but I get headaches, coughs and sneezing fits. It’s annoying.
I really liked the road to Sekong. The clouds and the mountains, a lot of green to the right and left, rarely a house.

In Sekong I went for 50 000 Kip (about 5 Euro) to a Guest House. I wanted to spend two days relaxing.

Ordering food usually goes with the language barrier (vegetarian food). Breakfast usually consists of an omelette, occasionally vegetable soup. Whether there was meat in it or a pure vegetable soup, I can’t say.

In Sekong or mostly in Laos there is no supermarket like in Germany. But you can get small things like chips or drinks here. People usually eat in the bars anyway, even for breakfast. At the market you can get fruit, vegetables and meat.

As delicious as an omelette is in the morning, I can’t eat the same food every day. Either meat or omelette. Rice with pure vegetables is rare here.
My big problem, I need variety.

Any meal

Breakfast

A German opened a bar in Sekong with real bread, fried potatoes, etc.. A change is good!
He said there is no paperwork here. Life is much more relaxed. As already mentioned, you build yourself a simple house, put down a few tables and have a bar. A kitchen would also be an advantage.

Of course you can also buy a real house, I just wanted to show how easy a life can be.

In the north and in the mountains there are still indigenous people who go hunting in the forest. But most natives have a smartphone.
Smartphones can be found in many villages, even there.

About 40 km slightly uphill, first heat, then rain and still knee problems, this is how the route from Sekong to Thateng felt. I am simply not as fit as on my last trip. But there were many villages, so many Hallos. The views were great. It outweighed everything negative, it gave me joy.
Such views are rare, so that I was more often emotionally moved, despite knee problems.

On the way I often saw the Russian flag or something.

They’re probably investing here.

Children once kneeled down in front of me and begged for money. I refused. But I watched them afterwards. One of them took out his smartphone and did something with it.

Which is rare for me, but still annoying that almost everyone looks at you. Sometimes I don’t stop at a place where people are. Too often it happened that someone came and wanted to help. He didn’t speak English and you had to explain for five minutes that you just stopped to scratch yourself or something.

In Laos I noticed that the mothers were searching the children’s hair for something. Are the insects looking for fleas? I don’t know.

My place to sleep. To the right of the moped you can see my tent. The people sleep also directly in the house at the gas station. Why go to work when you can get your work place at the house?

Too bad you can’t transmit emotions with a photo.

The remaining two days or the last 70 km Laos still showed its best side. I had hardly any money and had to live on about 3 Euro a day. Breakfast costs approximately 1 to 2 Euro, if necessary lunch and dinner from the remaining money. A little miscalculated. Nevertheless this was not bad. I just ate cheaper. Glutinous rice with raw vegetables or similar. I managed with 2 Euro a day.

I rode and enjoyed every meter in the unbelievably great landscape when I suddenly heard a PING on my bike. My rear hub was broken (the part in the middle of the wheel where the spokes are fixed). Two spokes were loose because the spokes holder had given up. I counted on everything, frame breakage, theft, broken spokes, but not with it. My hub is from Shimano LX, so not very good quality, probably XT would have been better.

Normally the trip should be over by now. Nevertheless I continued to drive slowly and carefully with a grin on my face, watching the rear wheel again and again. The problem is that the rim starts to wobble. The stability is no longer there. After about 7 kilometres, still 12 km to Vietnam, I found a great place to sleep.

It should be my last night in Laos. As a farewell gift nature gave me a great evening program.

As already mentioned, the photos do not show what I saw and felt.

The next day I drove slowly again. I had breakfast for 1,50 Euro a soup and I already felt Vietnam smiling. Many in this area speak Vietnamese. As much as I was looking forward to Vietnam, I was sad to leave Laos.

Children with baskets towing

My bike actually lasted a few kilometres. Another three kilometres to the border until a PING made me stop. The next spot was broken, four spokes now loose. Driving was impossible. The wheel eierte besides. So it went on by foot, while I was still grinning. Something like that is part of the journey.

Before the border I spent my last money on water and got the exit stamp, of course grinning.

Unbelievable that I had toyed with the idea of skipping Laos. The poorest of the four countries, in financial terms. I didn’t see much, only the south, but it was worth it. In the mountains and forests there are even indigenous people who go hunting in the forest.
All the people, rich and poor, whom I asked if they were happy in Laos, said YES. So a poor man can be richer than a millionaire.
It is a simple country, with hardly any bureaucracy and many possibilities. But with about seven million inhabitants it is still manageable.
The garbage problem is hardly to be seen here, but also present.
In the next days in Vietnam I thought a lot about Laos, I missed it.
Thank you for letting me experience this country.

All photos from Laos: HERE

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