Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday - travel to Vientiane

Yesterday, we got messages and phone calls throughout the afternoon and evening about the road conditions along Route 13. Many areas are flooded and the crossings are difficult. I vacillated whether we should travel today or wait until tomorrow. Finally I talked with the driver once he had arrived home - the inside of the trucks got flooded but as long as you're careful, and use 4WD in these sections, it should be all right.

So we left at 7 am. The road was fine until we got to Tha Bok. In fact, around Tha Khaek, everyone was picnicking by the side of the road, swimming and fishing (and drinking Beer Lao). The Lao have the amazing ability to shove aside worry - if they can't do something right away, they try to enjoy themselves, and return to the problem relaxed and with more energy later on. Westerners have got a lot to learn.

In fact, at each of the flooded areas, a little village would spring up. First, there were tok-toks parked at each end. These two-wheeled tractors can be hooked up to pull a cart, so they took passengers and towed vehicles across the flooded areas. Then vendors also set up shop, because waiting passengers need to eat.

vendor waiting for customers

This vendor had nearly sold all her food.

A tok-tok with passengers and towing a van across the worst flooded stretch of road:

service with a grimmace

View once we passed them (a little out of focus):

service with a laugh

The best way to travel along sections of Route 13 was by boat. And you could fish along the way:

by side of road

The worst crossing was at Pak Ngeum - we couldn't see the road so drove slowly to make sure we didn't go off the side. This is a view of one of the restaurants:


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