A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: John_713

Dalat

The Valley of dreams....

sunny 27 °C

Dalat is one of those places. We'd read about it in our guides and on the internet and it just sounded too good to miss! Simply, Dalat is where the youth of Saigon (and the French before them) go to frolick among the hills, which offer a much cooler and pleasant climate than muggy HCMC.

Easily enough we'd been recommended a hotel in Dalat from our previous hotel in Nha Trang, and since both had been only $6 we found it difficult to turn down the offer. As a result, we were met from our bus by two "easy riders," pimped out moto driving Dalatters (who are actually glorified tuk tuk drivers, but still, fitting onto their motos with our rucksacks was an experience). They took us to our hotel and said we should shower and then meet them downstairs to "talk". Dubious. We went up to our room, which had a balcony! declined a shower (as it wasn't warm), but did go to put them out of their misery after a while. Unfortunately this is where the sales pitch began. The easy riders do tours to, well actually, anywhere (some people have gone for months and gone as far as Hanoi! And poor Peter was trying his best to sell us a tour. Unfortunately we could neither afford, nor had time to take one. It was a shame, because they did sound absolutely amazing, but we just couldn't. Once he'd got the message Peter turned a little nasty and arsey. Glad we didn't go with him then! But he had lost a sale, so we won't be too hard on him! After a chill out we headed for a rather long walk around Dalat and found a really delicious vegetarian restaurant for dinner. It wasn't mentioned in any of our guide books but it was a welcome find! Also by this point the temperature had dropped and it was decidedly cold, maybe 12 degrees! We weren't used to this! It had been a pretty long day so we decided to head back and get an early one.

For our first day we walked to the "Crazy House" an absolutely insane architectural marvel, which includes spiders webs made of string, giant giraffes, staircases to nowhere and even themed bedrooms you can rent out.

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So random to find anywhere, let alone in a Vietnamese mountain retreat! Afterwards we went on a fairly long walk to find the Dalat cable car. After a few moments of doubt we found it and headed off over the mountains. The views were amazing, but it totally didn't feel like Vietnam. All fir trees, wild horses and rows of cabbages growing below us!

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At the other side we arrived next to a large reservoir but we weren't headed there first. No. First job was the waterfall about 3km away, which comes complete with it's own drive yourself, downhill toboggan style rollercoaster AND Vietnamese cowboys!

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First time down the hill we got stuck behind a boring couple who kept their brakes on the whole way down. Second time we barely used ours once! So much fun and at the bottom the waterfall was beautiful, despite the addition of a life size plastic tiger with glowing eyes....

After climbing back up the hill we headed to the reservoir which was really beautiful, and enormous! We had a drink then jumped back onto the cable car to take us back to the town. As we walked back we saw some Dalat sights such as the Cathedral, Eiffel tower style broadcast tower and the dried up lake (which still had the swan boats in it!).

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Next we headed to the old Dalat train station (now unused except for tourists) which has a 1920's Japanese steam train, German wagons and a Russian diesel train. Needless to say, John was very excited!

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After John had his fill of being the, not so fat, controller, we walked back to our hotel. Not ignoring the famous Dalat LAKE! Which is empty of water, supposedly for dredging, though we saw now evidence of anything being done to it; still at least they left the swan boats!

An uneventful evening followed, mostly to prepare us for another morning of motorbiking. We hired from our hotel and set off to find the elephant falls, which were beautiful and very impressive!
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A temple with a giant Buddha whose stomach was a whole room!

And finally a silk farm which was cool. It was especially impressive to note the binary paper stamp system they used to make the pattern.

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We then headed back towards town, and got a little lost looking for another of Dalat's famous attractions, "The Valley of Love". The guidebook wasn't overly clear about what the valley would be like so we didn't entirely know what we were looking for! After a bit of a fight over which way to go we did find "The Hill of Dreams" hmm not quite the valley of love but close....

Pictures cannot fully describe the hill of dreams (I mean how do you really capture the side of a hill covered by random plastic statues and even a mock great wall of china?!) but these three are a taster!

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We then head off to find the real valley which was....

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Just as random! Apparently these two theme parks are the kind of places middle class vietnamese like to come and holiday. Pretty hilarious really. We loved it!

Next day it was off to Saigon so we went back to our hotel to prepare ourselves for another bus journey!

Posted by John_713 02:59 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Hoi An

overcast 27 °C

We woke up in Hoi An and took our time over getting out of bed. We felt we deserved it! The girl that had told us to come to her Uncle's hotel the night before had also recommended her clothes shop to us so we decided to head over there to see what they had to offer. When we arrived we were shown the dresses they tailor make and several English clothes catalogues. "You chose, we make," they said....

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We were measured, fitted, coloured and walked out with a new dress, some trousers and a suit with a rather swanky waistcoat and were booked in for a 5pm fitting. We left 'Su's' and had a coffee which sent John buzzing for the rest of the day. Vietnamese coffee is amazingly tasty but very strong! We walked around Hoi An some more afterwards and found ourselves in another shop where Susie bought a new red and white spotty jump suit. Very kitsch! Then we walked some more.....we seemed to do an awful lot of walking in Hoi An, but the streets just beg you to. As it's a world heritage town, all the buildings have received funding to be renovated. Also many of the streets are sort of pedestrianised (though nowhere in Vietnam is truly safe from motos!) which makes it much safer to walk about than anywhere else we've been!

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After a wander we used the first ticket from out Hoi An visitor ticket, which allows you to visit 5 attractions over 3 days, and in theory permits you to actually enter the old town, though noone seemed to be checking entry points anywhere, and to be honest I don't know how they ever could! Our first choice was a small museum about Hoi An's history. Although it contained one or two old photographs, and a rather nice old map of indochina from the 19th century, the museum itself didn't have alot to show. Ah well, back to the shops we headed! A pair of leather shoes and a coat followed. Sigh. Hard life. As it was approaching 5pm we returned to Su's for our first fitting. Everything was pretty much in order and Susie left with another dress on order.

Day two!

Day two was our 3 year anniversary so we decided to go out for a nice dinner in the evening. First off we had some more shops and attractions to visit though. To begin with we headed to a temple which was unremarkable, aside from the small carved giraffes which adorned their entrance, random even for Vietnam! Next we headed to a restaurant Susie had found in the guide book which was on an island across from to the majority of Hoi An. It was called the lighthouse and was run by a Dutch man and his Vietnamese wife. The setting was beautiful and sitting on the 3rd floor with Vietnamese wine, looking out on the town, we certainly felt that this was the life! We had a few more fittings after this and had probably our best indian yet for lunch! In the afternoon we headed to a cultural performance of music and drama which was surprisingly entertaining.

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More shopping. Then, in the evening we found a rather tucked away restaurant down a back alley. In reality, there was nothing back alley about the "Secret Garden" and we had an absolutely delicious dinner, despite being told by our waitress (who wasn't in any sort of uniform, we assume that she did work there) we were eating most of our dishes incorrectly! Fortunately she corrected us, though rolling up a Vietnamese dumpling in a lettuce leaf, with chili, and dipping it into a sauce, and managing to put in into our mouths without spilling any, was a little beyond both of us! That said it really was delicious and the live music added to the evening (though it took Susie far too long to realise it was actually live!)

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The next day we headed to the oldest original house in Hoi An. After being told, with no arguments, where we should sit to listen to the tour we were told about the Japanese and Chinese influences of the house and also that it had been in the same family for 7 generations. We were also shown the level where the waters flooded to in the rainy season, over 1.5m, during which time they move all the furniture upstairs. We also saw some beautiful wooden panels with chinese characters carved in mother of pearl. Even more amazing was that the characters were made up of tiny models of birds!

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After the house we visited the "Japanese covered bridge," one of the most famous landmarks in Hoi An, but to us, pretty unremarkable. I mean, the name kinda describes it.

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Next on the tour was another original house, which was essentially identical to the first one, perhaps unsurprising given they were only built 20 years apart, but a little disappointing. With 4 hours to go until our bus, Susie's insistance that John should get a lumberjack shirt finally reached a head and it was added the the pile. More impressive than the tenacity of the credit line (thanks again Mum) was the fact that the shirt only took 2.5 hours from it's first try on to being completely made to measure and finished! Hoi An certainly don't want to stop you parting with your cash! 5pm eventually came and our time in Hoi An was at an end. Phew!

Our tally was therefore one 3 piece suit, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 shirts, 2 dresses, a jump suit, 2 coats, one pair of trousers, some plates and some other things.......which cost.....ENOUGH!

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Posted by John_713 02:48 Archived in Vietnam Tagged hoi_an tailor_made the_secret_garden the_lighthouse Comments (0)

Halong Bay

overcast 14 °C

Halong bay is one of those 'must see' things in SE asia, possibly even a must see in the world really. So we decided we must see it! Fortunately our lovely hotel booked tours, and despite them understandably trying to sell us the Deluxe, VIP, SUPER DUPER $70 tour, we decided to opt for $40, 2 days in the bay and one night on a boat, Susie's favourite!

Simply enough we got picked up from our hotel and driven the 4 hours or so towards Halong City. One the way we stopped off at the mother of all tourist traps, a traditional arts shop, in the middle of nowhere, which probably knocked a few quid off the cost of our tour. Of course we didn't buy anything and to be honest everything there you could get cheaper in Hanoi, still they had clean toilets. Only 20 minutes out of our day and we headed off again.

We were greeted from the bus by tourists who had taken the tour the day before. They looked rather bedraggled, sleepy and fed up, but we didn't take too much notice. We were told to wait for a while by our guide, and meanwhile, we were overtaken by several very organised Japanese tours (who didn't have to wait, naturally)! Next, onto a boat which "moored" by constantly running it's engine and driving its bow into the pier, mmm eco! Fortunately, we only had to hang about long enough for a random member of staff to arrive with some food and we were off!

Soon we arrived at our rather fancy "Junk".

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(Susie expects this luxury on Drommie from now on!)

Several blogs and LP heavily criticise the unauthentic and touristic origins of the junks, but we found ours rather charming. It might have been contrived, but it had some charm and hey, Halong is a tourist spot, what youi gonna do?! At lunch we sat with 2 Aussies and two Scottish girls who were on a gap year teaching in Malaysia. In fact, they were on the same scheme, Project Trust, that Susie had turned down before going to York (John considers his options whether this had been for the best or not....:p)Lunch was a fairly ordinary affair but there were CHIPS! Although not nearly enough, but still.

After lunch we arrived at a pier and were pointed towards a rather large and impressive (though no Kong Lor) cave. We had heard it was often dubbed the disco cave, and we could see why as the whole thing was lit up like a giant night club! Kind of beautiful, if somewhat ridiculous. Of course the Japanese were ahead of us, but they were being told, in intricate details, about the rock formations. We declined the explanation and continued out. We visited another smaller cave and then headed back to the boat.

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Next on our tour was a floating village, not unlike the ones we had seen on our Battambang - Siem Reap boat trip, only this time it was at sea! Our boat was also approached by "floating coops", ladies with rowing boats filled with crisps, drinks, fruit, you name it! Kinda cool really, too bad we weren't hungry. Our guide also pointed out that one of the rocks in this bay was on the back of a 200,000d ($10) note.

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After the village we continued on our cruise along the bay for what felt like years, and the whole time all we could see, from horizon to horizon, were limestone karsts. Endlessly. John kept exclaiming, "there are too many rocks!" it was insane how many there are and for how long they continue. It was incredible. Pictures say it all.....

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Eons later we moored up with every other boat in Halong bay (which is alot) and were told now was the time for swimming! By this point it was getting dark, and it was pretty cold, but John was keen (Susie less so) and an Irish guy and the Aussie from earlier were goading excessively. Of course John had to jump in off the top of the 3 storey boat.....while Susie could just about manage to slide herself in from about 1m up. Hehe it was fun, but freezing, and the water was full of oil (which John swallowed of course, as he couldn't keep his mouth shut during the drop. Tasty!)

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After we dried off it was time for dinner, another indifferent affair, and I'm afraid we had to concede to tiredness and headed off to bed at around 830! Ah well early day tomorrow, kayaking!

Now this kayaking business was a bit of an enigma to us, because we'd never been told about it when we were sold the tour, but the Scottish girls had. Anyway, 6:30AM, bright and early we got up ready for a paddle. Annoyingly our boat seemed to arrive last and all the boats were already out, meaning we had to wait another 20 minutes. Not a long time, but a pain since we'd been told we had to get up early. Also it was only the company our boat had booked with that was out of canoes, there were plenty sitting around not being used, grrr. Anyway, after a while we headed off into the water, and, despite a little argument we managed to make it about as far as we could around the bay. It was really beautiful, shame about the rubbish in the water, but we did rescue a plastic bottle!

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After Kayaking we were taken to a small island which had a rather nice beach and a karst to climb. It was 50,000d ($2.50) each to visit but we decided the view would be worth it. It certainly was….

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Afterwards we slowly headed back to Halong city and joined a convoy of boats doing the same. It was strange because we hadn’t seen any on our first day, despite reading it was a bit like a conveyor belt, but now we could see what they meant! Though it wasn’t annoying at all, it’s not like they can make Halong Bay bigger!

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Once we’d docked we found out why the tourists had been so aggravated the day before. Despite being ushered off the boat, we then had to wait 45 minutes for the bus, which would take us just 5 minutes down the road for lunch. Not cool. Lunch was pretty dire too. Meh. Finally we got on the road again (not before stopping at another tourist trap, whose saving grace was ice creams this time, which we recommended to 4 other people and saw about 10 with before we left, note to tourist trappers, ice creams, not giant statues of Buddha, no matter how happy he looks!!)

As we pulled away from the trap our tour guide got out of the bus and was replaced by another Vietnamese and an American who seemed a bit confused. A discussion followed with him being told he would be taken to the airport. Hmm…we didn’t want to go to the airport, and nor did anyone else, though he had only agreed to come on our bus because he’d been told in advance that we were all going. This was a 1.5 hour detour for us and noone was very happy about it, oh except the Vietnamese and the driver, who pocketed an above market rate, $20 for the journey. Meh nothing we could do in the end but a shame. Eventually we got back to our lovely hotel to meet a shocked and upset looking receptionist who had, the day before, promised to save our room for us. Guess what, she’d forgotten! She was quick to offer us an apology and a room in another hotel. Hmm we thought, how much is this going to cost us? $15 she said, the same as we’d had before, and she’d pay the difference. Well it was a shame, because our new hotel was technically nicer, but the staff weren’t nearly as friendly and the room didn’t have a view, but you can’t beat that for customer service!

Finally, to top off the day we’d promised ourselves a little naughty treat, after a recommendation by one of the Scottish volunteers. PIZZA HUT! It was a long walk, to a suitably faceless mall, filled with rich Vietnamese, there to buy tvs and cars and things 90% of the population can’t afford, and we did get two larges between us (which drew shocked looks from pretty much everyone) and we did take half of it home and have it for breakfast and lunch the next day, but DAMN WAS IT DELICIOUS!

Posted by John_713 02:48 Archived in Vietnam Tagged halong halong_bay Comments (1)

Sam Neua to Hanoi!

(hopefully)

overcast 17 °C

After several more circles of the town centre, we eventually moved up the hill to the first bus station. There John was taken off the bus by the driver and escorted to the front of the ticket queue. Tickets to Hanoi were put in his hand at the price we had been quoted the day before, 300,000k each. Perfect! In a while the bus left and headed east. One the way at Vieng Xai we picked up two Swedish girls who wanted to go to Thanh Hoa, town in Vietnam which is on the route (but not the direct direction) from Laos to Vietnam. As they got on they were told the bus would go there and indeed the name was written on the front in big letters. Simple enough they thought. About an hour into the journey, the man who had assured them the bus would go there told them it now wouldn’t because no one on the bus wanted to go. He demanded more money and told them they had to go to Hanoi. He also very conveniently forgot he spoke English, despite responding to the question “do you speak English?” with “no I do not....” dubious! Anyway, they refused to pay and standoff ensued for the next 8 hours.
Meanwhile we were passing through some rather staggering and beautiful scenery. We had read that the border crossing was the least used and most arduous to approach but apparently this just means the route is even more beautiful (and of course bumpier) than usual!

After 4 hours or so we reached the border, which was really rather grand, with multi-storey buildings on both sides, as tall as any we’d seen in Laos. We didn’t even have to pay the customary $1 bribe to get our visas stamped. Both borders passed easily enough but the guards did insist on going through our dirty laundry, though not through any of the side pockets or other dubious boxes which had been loaded onto our bus, a smugglers dream!
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Once we’d passed the check point we stopped in the border town for lunch for an hour and then headed off into Vietnam!

After another 8-9 hours we arrived in...Thanh Hoa. So much for not stopping there, and fortunately the girls still hadn’t paid. A potential scam to look out for! The whole scam was made all the more obvious and ridiculous because we were taken off the Lao bus in Thanh Hoa and would have to change buses, so we were always going to have to stop there. Grrr. Once we were off the bus we had some time to wait for the next one. Obviously at the moment the bus arrived John chose to go to the toilet. The bus didn’t seem very keen to wait for anyone and Susie was very worried he’d be left behind as we were all bundled onto the bus, which was already moving as John stepped onto it. We’d heard the Vietnamese were efficient but this was ridiculous! Later on the bus would pull away after dropping locals off before the conductor had even got back on, he had to run and prise the door open with his fingers to avoid being left behind! This journey, to put it in one word, was INSANE. Apparently in Vietnam every road (even those with one lane) has an invisible third lane, which you gain access to by flashing your lights and beeping your horn, regardless of the space on either side, oncoming traffic, self preservation or consideration for the sanctity of life.... Noone could sleep on journey where you spend as much time headed wildly towards the lorries in front of you as you do undertaking and cutting up everything in sight. All in a bus: clearly the most nimble of modes of transport!

Ah, well we survived and after another 4 hours we were yelled at. HANOI! We were then bundled off the bus (which was of course already moving away), presented with our bags (which had been dumped by the side of the road) and left to it. No map. No idea where in Hanoi we were (a city of 3.2 million people, whereas Vientiane, the capital of Laos only has 200,000!), very little Vietnamese money, and on the back of a 14 hour bus ride. The rest of the evening could prove to be an interesting night indeed!

Posted by John_713 06:56 Archived in Laos Tagged vietnam laos border_crossing hanoi border sam_neua nameo nam_xoi Comments (0)

Sam Neua

The Caves of the Pathet Lao

overcast 10 °C

In the morning we were picked up from our hostel and taken to the bus station. There we found out we could have saved 60,000k ($7.50) if we’d booked there rather than through our guesthouse, but we figured the tuktuk probably would have ripped us off nearly that much getting there anyway, c’est la vie. (We swear building all the bus stations right outside the cities is a conspiracy between the tuk tuk drivers and the government town planners to shaft tourists who have to get buses!) The bus we were on was a rather rickety affair, was vey local and soon became rammed to the door, but we managed to get the back seats next to the window so it wasn’t too bad. On the way we also passed through some beautiful scenery and some minority villages where the locals still dress as they have done for hundreds of years.

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9.5 hours later, the sun setting, and the bus station now being on top of a rather large hill outside town, rather than dead in the centre (see what I mean about the stations!), we arrived in Sam Neua. We opted to get a tuk tuk down to town since the tiny map we had in our book was clearly out of date. It stopped outside a few guesthouses which was helpful and the second one we tried, “Long Ma” had rooms for 40,000k ($5) so we opted for that, despite it’s rather inventive sink drainage method...

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We then went for a little wander but since the sun was now down (it was 6.30pm) and we were in Laos, everything was shut except one touristy restaurant. We ordered fried noodles and fried rice, which looked the real deal, but tasted really strange. Not the most enjoyable meal we’d had. After that, since there was barely any street lighting or anything going on we went to bed.

Next day we got up nice and early and walked back up the hill to go to the bus station, firstly to get tuk tuk to the Pathet Laos caves in Vieng Xai, and secondly to see if there was even a bus from Sam Neua to Vietnam (we’d read on the internet that there was but it didn’t sound very well used or reliable). We got to the top of the hill at around 630am and couldn't find anyone who could help us. Not a soul! Feeling like this trip might be a big mistake we dejectedly headed down the hill to try and find and internet cafe (a daunting prospect since our 2007 guide told us there was only one, which operated out of a private house!) and to get more information.

As we were walking a shared bus driver pulled up to us and asked where we were going? For once we needed help from a passing taxi, told him and he told us to get onboard. The bus itself was full so we had to cling onto the back! He drove for what felt like an age and we weren’t sure if he’d take us all the way to Vieng Xai (50 minutes away) or whether there was another bus station hiding somewhere! In the end it turned out there was another bus station (ridiculous since Sam Neua was tiny, no way did it need two bus stations!) and there we were pointed towards another bigger shared bus which was due to leave in half an hour, 8am. Perfect for us since we needed to be in Vieng Xai by 9am for the caves tour!

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The journey was another awe inspirer as we drove along a valley past some beautiful karsts, similar to the ones we had seen in Ban Nua Hin and before too long we arrived in Vieng Xai. After a moment of “errr where do we go now?!” we noticed some helpful, but small, green (so they helpfully blended into the scenery, unobtrusive, but failing at purposeful) signs pointing us to the Cave Tour Information Office. We got there with 10 minutes to spare, paid for our tickets, 60,000k ($7.50)each, and were told that if we wanted to see all the caves we’d have to hire bicycles, because the other people on the tour had said they wanted to already (another 15,000 grrr). We were also presented with a rather swish audioguide, which had been made in Australia, complete with aircraft sound effects and eyewitness accounts of living in the caves. Before too long our guide appeared and off we headed....

A brief interlude for some history....

As we mentioned in our Phonsavan blog, the Americans secretly bombed Laos and the Ho Chi Minh trail during the Vietnam war. The caves in Vieng Xai were where the Pathet Laos (Laos communists) ran most of the North of the country, and mounted a resistance against the USA and the Laos government between 1964 and 1975. The caves themselves and Vieng Xai were in a deep valley in the mountains, making them the ideal place to hide from aerial bombing and to avoid ground invasion.

Currently, 7 caves, which were the main ones used by the Pathet Lao, are open to the public, with up to 100 in the Vieng Xai area and we visited them all (thanks to the bikes!) The caves were an impressive network, with a hospital, kitchens, living accommodation for over 300 soldiers, printing presses and even a large theatre, tucked away in the caverns.

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The Theatre
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The area where the former Communist leader used to play table tennis with his bodyguard!

Many of the caves also had an airtight “emergency room” with an air filter donated by Russia, in case the Americans ever dropped gas on the area (fortunately they didn’t).

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The Russian air filter.

At each cave, which are named after the members of the original politburo who lived in them during the war, we listened to another part of the audioguide. As I said before it contained accounts from people who had lived in the caves which were quite interesting. Not unexpectedly much of the story was fairly biased, especially since some of the members of the original leadership are still in the government today! So interesting, but to be taken with a pinch of salt. One staggering point it did make was about the cluster bombs which plague the country. America still hasn't signed an international resolution which bans them and we read today in the news that the UK has been permitting their storage on UK soil, despite it being illegal in UK law. So much for Obama's more liberal agenda.... Also at each cave was a modern house, built in 1975. These were infact the houses used by the politbureau after 1975, right outside the caves they had lived in during the war! We had to admire their tenacity to want to stay where they had fought for so long! One had even built a swimming pool out of the crater left by a rather large American bomb!

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Once the 4 hour tour finished we headed back to where we had been dropped off to wait for a bus back to Sam Neua. We had been told there was one at 1:30pm, but when we arrived a local in a rather beaten up old rice truck, told us 2pm. It was 1:20, so we had a fair while to wait. With about 10 minutes to go the rice truck driver jumped up and said come with me, so along with a few other people we’d done the tour with, we jumped into his truck.

A few miles in, going up a rather steep hill the truck stalled, and wouldn’t start until he’d revved the hell out of the engine. A few km later, it did it again. And again. And again. Until nearly 2 hours later we got back to Sam Neua. Oh and this wasn’t before he’d stopped in what looked like the middle of nowhere to demand money from us. We were reluctant since we didn’t know where we were but we grudgingly paid him and fortunately it turned out we were only 1km or so from the bus station anyway.

We opted to walk back to the centre, which was further than we’d remembered in the end, and had to rush because we’d nearly run out of money and had to pay around $70 for the bus to Vietnam and our hotel the next day. We got to the main bank at 3:45 to find it shut, despite the opening hours being written large on the front...4PM! Eugh! We then walked to the next bank to find that closed at 3:30! Disaster! Fortunately (and as John well knows) looking pathetic can sometimes get you what you want and sure enough puppy dog eyes at the front door got us inside to change our money! Phew!

An uneventful evening followed. Probably for the best since Susie was predicting a 20+ hour bus ride the next day!
Next morning we woke up early again to seek out our bus, which we had been told would go from out elusive second bus station from the day before. We started off with trip to the (very local) local market to get snacks, Laos doughnuts and something spherical (because Susie liked the shape) and a world of teeny tiny mandarins, for the journey. No sooner had we left the market to look for a tuktuk to the station than a big bus with Hanoi – Thanh Hoa – Sam Neua, appeared in front of us with a driver expectedly asking, “You wanna go to Vietnam?”. “Yes!” we announced and boarded. Any more information was hard to come by and although this looked like the bus we wanted, John was uncharacteristically paranoid about it not being the right one. With 8am (the time the bus we had been told about’s leaving time) quickly approaching and little progress out of Sam Neua achieved (despite going around in circles picking up chickens, birds in cages and miscellaneous boxes of....stuff, he grew more and more worried that this would turn out to be a dud and that we’d miss the connection we really wanted.......

Posted by John_713 01:58 Archived in Laos Tagged caves pathet_lao sam_neua vieng_xai Comments (0)

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