Our adventure has turned into ‘Rallying for Softies’!
An 11:30am start was called for because the border between Laos and Vietnam closes between 11:00am and 13:30pm for lunch!
No complaints about staying a little longer at our resort, and in fact several suckers for punishment volunteered for a zipwire ride before leaving.
We retraced our steps down the mountain and headed east on Highway 2. The road was quiet and a meandering series of twists and turns until we crossed the Nam Phak river.
Our route than followed the river very gently descending for 70 kms. It was beautiful drive with no traffic to speak of, dotted with villages and small towns on the way.
Kids and adults were equally pleased to smile and wave as we passed. In Pak Nam Noy village we stopped for some retail therapy with the local ethnic ladies who walk many miles to sell their wares in the market.
From there we crossed the Nam Ou river and headed into the hills.
The road was in great condition and we climbed slowly over 70 kms to the Laos border where the passport and customs people could not have been friendlier or more accommodating. Our Laos agent took our passports and handled all the formalities and we were free to go.
A small forest fire behind the customs building added a certain thrill to some of our number, but nobody was hurt.
Vietnam immigration was equally speedy with a very informal check of the cars and we were free to go.
Laos has been a wonderful experience of gently countryside, good roads, friendly people and beautiful views.
And although we love Vietnam, the contrast on descending from the border post could not have been more different. The road was broken, literally, for about 12 kms which did no favours for David and Debbi’s front tyre which burst with an enormous explosion. They have had three punctures already, so this is more than cruel. Getting another tyre of the right size in north Vietnam is going to be an interesting challenge.
We eventually emerged from the hills onto a wide open plain bursting with colour and agriculture, mostly rice paddies. And then the madness started as we got closer to Dien Bien Phu with motorcycles coming at us three abreast, passing us on both sides and crossing in front of us without signals. It was mayhem and it was noisy, in complete contrast to Laos.
Note the girl in the top photo waving money, indicating they would like to be paid for starring in the photo.
Our lodging for the night was billed as an Eco-Resort, but seems more aimed at the Chinese traveller. The China border is only about 17 kms away, so perhaps this is no surprise.
Our evening cabaret was charming, the meal ok but it was only for one night.