The last time I crossed here, 11 years ago, the border crossing was a dirt road and a shack. Now it is paved and a bigger shack. The visa costs $35, with one dollar more to get your passport back. I pointed out that the sign said $35, and the guy smiled and said, "One more dollar, please." Last time it cost me $7 to get my passport back, so I was happy to oblige.
Another van driver met us and took us into Pakse, where we spent the night. We are staying at a small hotel with a French Colonial feel to it. It is the down season, so we are their only customers.
The first thing we did was head out to lunch in town. We found a place that had a huge menu with Lao, Thai, Chinese, and western dishes. And Beer Lao!
Beer Lao! My favorite beer in Southeast Asia. I can't find it in the US, so I enjoy it here. We finished lunch and walked around for a while.
The first time I was here, back in 2007, was also the first time I met Malida, and we spent our first day together walking along the same streets. It was cool to see some of the same spots we saw back then. We came across a temple we had visited on our first visit and looked around.
Mack paying respect. It has been raining here, and everything is kind of muddy.As we were walking out back of the temple, I slipped and fell in the mud. Everyone laughed, even the monks! I was fine and cleaned up nicely.
A bunch of kids followed us out of the temple, asking for money and posing for us. We headed down the street to a great little cafe and had coffee. Laos has a bunch of big coffee plantations, and the coffee is good. We hung out until it got dark, then started walking back to the hotel.
A guy in a big took took came by and offered to take us to the night market for a few bucks, so we piled in. He dropped us off, and we found that the night market was closed, but we were about a 5 minute walk from the hotel, so it was ok.
The river at dusk. This morning, after we finish our breakfast, we will head out to Don Det, which is an island in the middle of the Mekong.