Blog about sightseeing, public transport and gay life in Thailand. Not politically correct. May contain explicit description of homosexual activities and strong language as a stylistic means. If that offends you, you can go here: http://www.imbecile.me/
Thursday, 3 July 2014
Plain of Jars in Ponsavan / Xiangkhouang
Plain of Jars in Ponsavan / Xiangkhouang
Prices are in kKip = 1000 Kip, exchange rate about 1 THB =
245 Kip, 1 USD = 8 kKip, 1 EUR = 11 kKip. THB are accepted as payment in
Vientiane and Ponsavan / Xiangkhouang.
Monday, 03.03.2014 Vientiane to Ponsavan
Check out (but leave luggage in guesthouse), say goodbye to
my Lao friend (encounter in Boyztown Pattaya, was in Lao when I went there for
visa run, stayed with me two days in Vientiane).
Pick up my passport at Thai embassy: arrive 13:05, gate
open, but have to wait outside. Enter 13:30, few people around, pick up
passport with tourist visa, leave 13:38.
Spend the day walking around in Vientiane. Buy ticket for
bus to Ponsavan at Green Discovery Lao (200 kKip, pick up at office 6 pm, bus
will leave 8:30 pm and arrive 7 am).
Back at the office 5:55 pm. Van leaves 6:10 pm. Drive around
Vientiane to pick up other passengers. Arrive at northern bus station (kilometers
out of town) 7:10 pm. Board bus 7:45 pm, bus leaves 8:03 pm. This is one of the
last buses, shops closed and lights went off while I waited. To my surprise,
this is a real sleeping bus. No reclining seats (can’t sleep in them), real
At the end, there are beds for children, smaller than beds
for adults (and even in bed for adult, when I stretch out head and feet touch
the ends). I had a ticket for the lower berth (which suits me fine, easier to
get in and out, and if you fall out it’s not deep), but this was already
occupied by a Lao woman who proclaimed to be sick, no further discussion, so I took the upper berth. One person slept on the floor. Overall, an enjoyable ride, would take it again and recommend it to friends.
Tuesday 04.06.2014 explore Ponsavan and surroundings on bike
General observations: small town, has some guesthouses and
restaurants that cater to foreigners. A bit stretched out, walking would take a
lot of time.
Arrive at bus station 6:40 am. Bus station is kilometers
from town center, van to town center 20 kKip, 6:45 to 55. Inquire for tours to
plain of jars, check into next guesthouse (100 kKip per night, early check-in
free) and sleep. Get up 8:30 am and have breakfast, but the 9 am tour is full!
Book tour for tomorrow, 200 kKip.
Rent a bicycle 30 kKip and ride to the nearest jar site, 10:07
– 11:07, including 10 minutes stop at tourist information (dislpay of unexploded bombs).
NOT RECOMMENDED. The
bike has serious maintenance issues (brakes, gear), the ride is hot, sunny and
dusty. Pictures from jar site 1:
Bomb crater, but where is the discharged soil?
Warning for land mines and uxo (unexploded ordnance), the trails that are safe are marked:
white side: safe, red side: not safe (stones on both side of the trail, only one in picture), bomb crater with sign:
Return to town. Spend about 2-3 pm at Mulberry Silk (about
500 m west of bus station on opposite side of the road). Recommended! One lady
explained the whole process from caterpillar to silk, dyeing with natural dyes,
weaving. The tour is free, but I made a 50 kKip donation and bought mulberry
jam and tea (25 kKip each). The pupa is boiled with water to kill it, then the
silk is unwound and the pupa is eaten. A friend once told me the pupa is that
delicious that it doesn’t get sold, they eat all of them on the spot. Now I
finally had the chance to eat pupa and find it mediocre.
Floor and ceiling are white from burned lime, to keep ants and rats away.
Cycle to lake and cemetery on hill.
In the evening, walk around in town, uxo used for decoration near former airport (now golf course and market):
At night go to the night market and watch locals play pool
or computer games (but not on a computer, they have tables with large screens
where locals stand around and press buttons, everything on screen very colorful,
the labels looked Chinese language to me). At the night market, chat with a group of
boys in Thai language, they even follow me to my guesthouse. Seems everyone in
Lao speaks Thai, and if I take a closer look, I can even read Lao script.
"Sticky rice with mango is delicious" in Thai and in Lao:
(The Lao was written by a Thai friend, so it might not be how Lao people say it, just Thai in Lao letters.)
Rdng L whn y cn rd Th s lk rdng nglsh wth vwls mssng.*
Wednesday 05.02.2014 tour to plain of jars
Get up 8 am and have breakfast (included in price, little
choice). Weak sunburn from cycling the day before and running nose and right
eye swollen and red. I must be allergic to something in the room, as my
condition got better and problems finally disappeared in the course of the day, but the following morning the
problems were back.
While I wait for the van, a lady who looks like a local
chats me up. “I saw you chatting with some yesterday.” I am preparing for “You
dirty pedophile, if I see you again chatting with minors, I will cut your
balls off!”, but no, just some small talk. She is Lao and has been living in
the USA for decades.
Van leaves 9:15 am and arrives 9:40 am, including a police stop
to check license. Site 1 again:
Leave site 1 10:50, arrive site 2 11:25.
Leave site 2 11:50, lunch 11:55-12:40.
Arrive site 3 12:55, leave 13:38.
Site 3 requires some walking:
Russian tank 13:57-14:05
14:19 Whisky village, 1 liter of home-made rice whisky is
sold for 10 kKip (no typo, that’s about 1 Euro or 1 USD per liter, cheaper than
water!) Free sampling, even as an anti-alcoholic I would say: suitable for
human consumption. Back 14:55.
Already activity at the market, gambling (?), snooker, roller-skate. Walk around, visit MAG (Mines advisory group, exhibition about uxo) 7:40 to 8 pm, free entry, 40 kKip donation.
More use of uxo for decoration:
Buy an aluminium spoon at the market (1 kKip, in Luang
Prabang they cost 15 kKip). I missed the village where they cast aluminium
spoons from war scrap! (“Bombs to spoons” is a bit far-fetched, airplanes are
made of aluminium, bombs are made of steel).
Animals at the market: live piglets in carrier boxes and dead badger (?):
Thursday 06.02.2014 Ponsavan to Luang Prabang
Alarm 7 am, running nose and swollen eyes, same as
yesterday. It’s so cold that moisture from breath condenses and forms clouds.
Tuk-tuk to bus station 7:30-42. Bus departs 8:48. Chat with a German couple who
do a past-university-pre-work trip through South-East Asia and spend on average
45 EUR per day for two.
There is more to see and to do, but that information is not
on the internet (but can be found in travel agencies in Ponsavan, however I had planned 2
days / 2 nights and didn’t want to stay longer), and there is no public transport. Tourist information, more sites of interest:
*Reading Lao when you can read Thai is like reading English
with vowels missing.