The road to Phonsavan. We got picked up at the hotel at 8.30am and taken out to the southern bus station. Minibus to Phonsavan costs 130,000kip and each bus takes 13 passengers – we got there to find that there were in fact 14 passengers booked on today’s trip. The staff tried in vain to suggest that we could all go on the one bus, but 14 western bums were never going to fit so we ended up split over 2 minibuses. We had a French lady who didn’t talk much, a young American guy, a Pommie boy the same age as Ainsley, a Kiwi bloke and his girlfriend from Slovakia and us. We thought this would be fine but the driver was keen to make a few extra kip and stopped a number of times to pick up additional passengers.
It is the most incredible road I’ve ever travelled. Narrow, unbelievably windy and literally perched on the edge. The cloud was quite low so at times we really couldn’t see much. It rained heavily for part of the trip which made it even more difficult to see anything. Ad to this the heavy rain in the area a couple of weeks ago and we must have passed a hundred landslides. Nearly all had been cleared but the evidence was still very fresh – great scours of red dirt on the hillsides and piles of dirt bulldozed to the sides of the road. The road would certainly have been impassable for several days after the slips.
|Landslides on the road|
|Look for the tiny 'red' line half way up this pic - it's the road|
|No explaination necessary!|
We finally arrived about 4;45pm at the bus station in town, to be met as expected by touts from the local hotels and guesthouses. We went with the first guy who approached us. The Anoulak Hotel - $20/night including a private bathroom (!) breakfast and free wifi. It’s quite central and perfectly fine. Tried the internet, not only slow but the only site I could access was – you guessed it…. Facebook!
We’ve organised a tour to the Jars tomorrow with the Kiwi & his girlfriend and another guy they met at a guesthouse they were checking out. 120,000kip including 3 jar sites, a Hmong village, another called Napia where they make cutlery from aluminium salvaged/scavenged from bomb relics and Xieng Khouang the old capital (before the yanks bombed the be-jeebers out of the place), all this with an English speaking guide. Should be great fun.
Long day so dinner across the road at a little local place and back to try again with the very (very) slow internet to upload this and some pics.