We drove from Salavan all the way back to Vientiane today, and I was thrilled by the clear skies most of the way. The monsoon is starting and during the first month of the rainy season, the skies can be the most clear - during the dry season a lot of dust floats in the air, both from dust raised from dirt road but also from people burning and plowing the old fields in preparation for the current year's planting.
Above and below, the fields are starting to get filled up with rain water.
Along the road, there are other, more human sights. On the left, farmers are fixing a tok-tok, which is a two-wheeled tractor, used for just about everything. For plowing, metal treads are attached to the wheels but the treads can be exchanged for regular tractor wheels so the vehicle can be used for pulling a cart. When not filled up with rice or supplies, tok toks are the main form of transport for people, often seeming to carry most of a village to the market.
This is the regular bus that goes along the rougher dirt roads in the province. It's an old Russian transport truck with a new body. The seats are made of wood, and there are no windows. The shocks are awful and there is constant dust in the vehicle - however, Lao people are patient and always make the best of everything. People generally laugh and tell stories during the uncomfortable ride, knowing that you can make anything tolerable depending on your attitude.
And the final picture of the day - looking east towards the Vietnamese border and the mountains north of Tha Khaek. It's very peaceful looking now - but during the 'Vietnam' War, which spilled into Laos, bombers dropped an incredible amount of ordnance on these hills to try to cut the many roads that made up what was called the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
Although we left at 8 am, we didn't get into Vientiane until 10 pm - we stopped at another province hospital to visit two people who were injured in UXO accidents. This took a little more time than we expected as we spent some time talking about treatment and follow-up plans for them.
This is my contribution to Skywatch Friday which is hosted over at Wiggers World