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Sunday, April 09, 2006

"I pity the fool ..."

The final night in Phonsavanh proved to be one of the most exciting things to happen while we were there! Not what you might be thinking, but rather, an evening of non-stop thunder and lightning! The flashes and booms continued for hours on end with only two or three seconds between house racking rumbles and forks of blinding white light! Myra acted tough while I whimpered in the corner.

The following morning as we sat eating breakfast, sheltering from the persistent drizzle, I noticed a large săwngthăew pass by, packed to Sri Lankan legal limits and destined for Xam Neua. "Ah, the early bus", I thought to myself and then to Myra (in a Mr. T accent), "I pity the fool who takes a săwngthăew to Xam Neua!". You see, we were on our way to catch the 8:00 standard bus to Xam Neua.

Half an hour later, standing in the drizzle at the local bus depot, the ghostly image of Mr. T apparates before me laughing "Ha! I pity the fool who pities the fool who takes a săwngthăew to Xam Neua!" ... Bah!

The good news though is that the journey turned out to be a bit of a picnic and plenty of good olde fashioned oirish craic as we ended up sharing the trip with two other Irish backpackers; Finbarr and Kathryn.

Eight and quarter hours squished into the back of a 8 person vehicle with 15 others, with the last hour spent sitting on a travel pillow (ah, the relief!), and we arrived into dusty Xam Neua. Looking in the mirror a little while afterwards and I discovered that I'd become a panda thanks to the grimy roads - my best tan of the trip so far!

We'd only just managed to change back into being polar bears before we'd bumped into Tony, the local N.G.O. worker for the region, who, as it turned out, only lives a couple of miles down the road from Myra in the Kingdom. Over a few brewskis he filled us in on just about everything you could wish to know about Laos and Viet-Nam! We even found out that the guy who wrote the Laos section of the Lonely Planet has never even been to this region, despite writing a very indepth review of all there was to do - we weren't surprised!

The main tourist oriented trip in and around Xam Neua is the caves at Viang Xai which were used by the Lao resistance forces during the war. The caves themselves are huge and at any given point during the bombardment up to 23,000 people were living in them!

Within the caves are offices, hospitals, housing, shelters and any other conceivable thing that you might need to mount a resistive movement. Well worth the short 40 minute săwngthăew trip advertised in the Lonely Planet - which somehow actually took an hour and forty five minutes to do!


  • Hey there, Good blog, you're gradually catching up with Myra -- hope you 2 meet somewhere along the way....

    By Blogger fennellfamily, at 3:21 p.m.  

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