16th May 2015:
As we drove to the Cambodian/Lao border the roads got worse and worse. At one stage I hit a pothole that I was sure had cracked the diff. Looking back I could see no trail of oil so held my breath and hoped we would make it to the border.
About 20kms from the border we came across a school that appeared as from nowhere. It was so unusual that I stopped to take some photos. The kids playing outside saw us and came running to the bridge. They were full of smiles. Strangely enough they all seemed to be able to say hello and later goodbye. They all wanted to see the photos Renee and I took. It was a very pleasant interlude to our day. Renee gave the teachers some stickers of Australian animals. I’m not sure what the teachers will do with them but hopefully the kids may get a lesson on Australian animals – who knows.
Existing Cambodia and entering Lao was easy. Whilst standing at the Customs Office getting our Carnets signed I noticed what looked like a pool of oil directly under my diff. My stomach was in my mouth – Oh hell, the diff was cracked after all. Luckily Barry was able to get a better look and was able to confirm it was just an empty plastic bottle (that looked suspiciously like an oi leak) that by chance was lying directly under my diff. I don’t think the gods should allow such things its not good for my heart.
Once inside Lao the roads improved greatly. They were a dream to drive on. The vegetation also changed so that the countryside now was much greener and the houses more substantial.
We arrived at Pakse around 1.30pm and after a lunch (you guessed it) at a restaurant on the Mekong we booked ourselves into a very nice hotel (about US$25 per night). We couldn’t believe our eyes when we noticed the clock in the foyer had the name ‘Paris’ on it. Pakse is due west of Hoi An in Vietnam (where Jodie and I and the kids stayed a couple of years ago and which we enjoyed very much).
Tonight we had dinner on a floating restaurant on the Mekong (don’t you get sick of it?). Barry had been having a bit of trouble with one of the arms of his reading glasses. I think he had had a bit of enough of them and ended up accidentally sacrificing the broken arm to the gods of the Mekong. They fell on the floor and through a crack into the mouth of the mighty Mekong. As the Mekong was flowing we guess at about 20km they might be in Cambodia by now.