A ‘free half-day’ is always a welcome item on the program. We have a few hours to ‘kill’ before our transfer to the airport for our flight to Pakse in South Laos. 10 of us decide to take a tuk tuk ride around the town in a ‘lets see as much as we can in the shortest amount of time’ mode. Our drivers are experienced at providing this service and so we do the pagoda visit, a drift around the markets and a ride around the outskirts of this busy regional town.
Although our flight departed an hour late, no one seemed too disappointed as the time became a mid-day nap for some. We had a great view of the town, particularly Angkor Wat. From the air, the size of Angkor Wat is indeed large.
Laos in Brief
The Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Laos is located in the centre of Indochina, sharing borders with China to the North 416 kilometres, Myanmar to the Northwest 236 kilometres, Thailand to the West 1835 kilometres, Cambodia to the south 492 kilometres and Vietnam to the East 1957 kilometres.
With a total area of 236,800 square kilometres, around 70% of Laos’ terrain is mountainous, reaching a maximum elevation of 2820 meters in Xiang Khouang Province. The landscapes of northern Laos and the regions adjacent to Vietnam, in particular, are dominated by rough mountains.
The Mekong River is the main geographical feature in the west and, in fact, forms a natural border with Thailand in some areas. The mekong flows through nearly 1900 kilometres of Lao territory and shapes much of the lifestyle of the people of Laos. In the South, the Mekong reaches a breadth of 20 kilometres, creating an area with thousands of islands.
The Pakse airport is not very busy. We were able to pass through customs and immigration in less than 15 minutes total. Our tour guide for Laos is an experienced tour guide named Bobby. She is kind and knowledgeable with an interesting sense of humour.
Our 45 minute coach ride takes us to ‘The River Resort’ downstream from Pakse on the Mekong River. We arrive just on dusk and hardly get to our rooms before the tropical darkness closes in quickly. Our rooms are overlooking the Mekong River. They are comfortable with both inside and outside showers; now this could be interesting.
Tomorrow, we take an elephant ride and then a visit to another pagoda about 30 minutes further downstream.