Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Day 78 - A night spent in squalor, and an accidental detour to the Ho Chi Minh Trail. (Laos)
We made the decision the night before last to detour from the main road to visit the old colonial town of Sevannakhet, thinking it could be an interesting spot to check out. Although incredibly dilapidated, it was a pretty cool town; the streets lined with all the old French buildings and a variety of Communist posters. Unfortunately the guesthouse situation wasn’t quite as abundant as we would have hoped or expected, so for lack of options we ended up settling on one of the dingier places we’ve seen so far. And by that I mean it was the true backpacking through Asia experience. Our bathroom was a squat toilet and a hose underneath a tin shelter on the roof, and Tom and Tom were pretty dismayed when they realised the bundle of gross between the heads of their beds was in fact an old condom. We could have spent a bit more and stayed somewhere that chose to clean their rooms between guests, but there is something strangely satisfying about roughing it a little.
We set off in the morning, heading North on the No. 13 towards Vientiene, with the intention of stopping at Tham Long Ko, a cave we’ve heard about that sounds pretty spectacular. About an hour and a half after setting off, we started looking for landmarks to find the turnoff. To our embarrassment though, we discovered that we were in fact facing South on the No. 9. Realising that the only possible mistake we’d made was 20 km from our start point, we decided to think outside the square and consider options other than just turning straight back. And lo and behold, we figured out we were almost at the Vietnam border at a point where we could visit the Ho Chi Minh Trail. So we took a quick team vote and decided to change our plans for the next couple of days and include this detour.