Overland From Thailand Into Laos……… (Lao People’s Democratic Republic)

I made the journey by car with Yada, her Mum, her younger sister Kak and her auntie (her Mum’s sister from Sakon Nakhon) to Pakse in Laos; we drove south to Ubon Ratchathani, in Thailand, where we had booked a taxi and a driver for a 6 day trip into Laos……….taking a Thai registered car into Laos is a logistical nightmare, and in the case of Yada’s car, impossible. You cannot take any car into Laos without full documentation to show that there is no outstanding debt on the vehicle, and Yada still has 2 years finance on her car, so the taxi and driver was our only option, an option, I might add, that we are now pleased that we were forced into…………..

Last winter I spent 3 hours crossing the border from Thailand into Cambodia at Aranyaprathet /  Poipet, so I was anticipating another protracted procedure at the Thai / Laos border at Chong Mek; fortunately, my fears were unfounded…………..firstly, this border crossing is nowhere near as popular and consequently as busy as the Thai / Cambodia border which is the gateway to Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor Wat, and secondly, I had Yada to negotiate the whole palaver for me, she speaks fluent Lao and consequently it was all very swift and painless……………..

This lady was just crossing into Laos for a day’s trading…………..

 

Lovely old motorbike and sidecar combo in Pakse……………..

Above and below……..this young rascal had been stationed outside the toilets at a petrol station, it is apparently the norm in Laos and he was charging 1000 kip (7 pence)………..

above and below………….the freshly pressed juice from sugarcane is very popular in Laos and stalls like these are everywhere………..I tried it once in India where it is also very popular, but it is a tad too sweet for my liking……………

……….some beautifully crafted offerings left outside a temple……………….

 

………..above and below…………..we made a day trip to the waterfalls at Khone Phapheng which are situated in southern Laos, very close to the border with Cambodia; the largest waterfalls in south east Asia and the widest waterfalls in the world, comprising of 6 main falls several kilometres wide……………..any photographs other than ariel, can never begin to capture the power and majesty of this spectacular place, as the full force of the mighty Mekong river cascades and thunders over the rock formations…………..

…………these magnificent waterfalls are the main reason that the Mekong river is not fully navigable into China…………..so they have been a key factor in preserving the integrity of the river and have been a massive help in protecting the river from the inevitable industrialisation that would have taken place many years ago if the falls were not there………….there remain some places on our planet where mother nature still holds sway……………..

Although Laos is a land-locked country, the Mekong provides it with an archipelago of over 4,000 islands, known as Si Phan Don which are situated in the river stretching northwards for about 50 kilometres from the  Khone Phapheng falls………..here the river splits into many channels and tributaries around the islands and sandbars, widening to 14 kilometres in places………….

We took a boat trip on this part of the Mekong around some of the islands……….some of the larger islands are inhabited, but the vast majority are not, and provide a wonderful refuge for the great diversity of wildlife that inhabit this huge pulsating artery that is the lifeblood for millions of people, fish and animals……………..this part of the Mekong is home to the rare freshwater species of dolphin known as the Irrawaddy dolphin…………we were not fortunate enough to see any of them (on this occasion)

Above…………one of the many restaurants along the banks or as in this case, in the river Mekong at Pakse…………………….and below, Yada and I on a rooftop just before a sunset dinner at the restaurant in the 3 pics below…………..

 

…………..above………….sunset by the side of the Mekong at Pakse

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