Monday, November 1, 2010

To Attapeu for 2 nights and back to Vientiane

The journey down to Attapeu from Saravan was 3.5 hours and over a hill. Attapeu is one of the poorest provinces in Laos.


We arrived in Attapeu about 3pm and had no meetings for the afternoon so I changed into my shorts & t-shirt and had a walk around the town. The afternoon market was a bit tired.

One of my interpreters had spent a year at university in Australia. Her Mother was high up in the party and happened to be visiting the province on the same day we were there so we briefly met her.

We had meeting with the Provincial Education service and the Treasury. Then it was out to the country side to visit a school. The kids were fascinated with Falang (foreigner) and crowded the window to look. I took out my camera to take a photo and they all ran away - the 2nd photo is all I could capture after they started to run.


On the drive back to town a provincial education accountant asked if we would like to visit a special duck restaurant in the area. We made our orders and while we waited 15 minutes for it to be cooked I wandered down to the river. I saw some small local ferry boats crossing the river and saw locals practicing for their boat racing festival coming up at the weekend. The duck was good.

I went for a 6:00am walk and saw early morning life in the town. The monks were out collecting alms and women were heading home from market on their motorbikes shopping bags full.


The morning market at 6:00am was a different affair from the version I had seen in the evening. It was teeming with fresh produce and lots of people and their motorbikes.




As I walked about in the morning there were always televisions going in people homes and the doors and windows were all open given the high temperatures. It was over 25 degrees at this time of the morning.

After a 10am meeting in Attapeu on Friday we hit the road back up to Vientiane. 13 hours Attapeu – Pakse – Savannakhet – Vientiane, with some short food breaks. Travelling at night was challenging driving. The ability to spot motorbikes, tractors, vehicles often without lights on was challenging. The quality of the vehicle lights when used was also variable. Some were not able to dip their lights.

I find it hard work being the driver in the passenger seat, on the wrong side of the road.

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