I rode south out of sleepy Savannakhet on Route 13. The road passed through uninteresting countryside. There were ugly little towns along the highway, patches of dirt, scrubby trees, industry. It was not a photogenic ride, and I didn’t take any pictures.
I was dreaming of selling my bike to the guy who contacted me the whole way.
I eventually came to the city of Pakse. Unlike Savannakhet, this place seemed like a city, with some traffic and buildings. The main highway went through town, but ended at the Mekong, where a huge bridge was being constructed. There was no way across. Consulting Google Maps I saw there was another bridge, so I headed for that.
My plan was to continue south to Champasak, a tiny town with UNESO World Heritage Khmer temple ruins. So I rode out of town.
After leaving town, I passed over another huge bridge. I had crossed the Mekong, but at this point it was no longer the border between Thailand and Laos. Laos really got burned when it lost a huge piece of its territory to Thailand. Basically, the skinny Southern bit shouldn’t be skinny; it should be fat like the North all the way down to Cambodia. This little piece west of the Mekong is sort of a crummy consolation prize of sorts.
I rode on for a while, and turned off on the side rode towards Champasak. Then it occurred to me that I was on the other side of the Mekong that I needed to be on for the 4,000 islands. I tried to check Google Maps to see if there was a bridge. I didn’t have data any more. The 50,000 kip I had loaded on my phone didn’t auto renew my plan.
Confused, and with no way to get information, I turned back to Pakse. It’s disturbing how dependent I am on my phone. I hadn’t done any research on Pakse, since I was planning to skip it.
It was a big city (by Lao standards), and I had no idea where to go. I rode around randomly until I found the street with guesthouses. Many were full because of the holiday, but I finally found one with a room. It’s the same price as the nice place I stayed at in Savannakhet, but dingy.
I asked a couple motorbike rental shops if they wanted to buy my bike. They were interested, but said they can’t drive a Viet bike. They also don’t want to spend any money. I bought some paper and made a sign, which I hung on the back. The guy in 4,000 Islands flaked. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t want to ride back to Vietnam.