An unanticipated stay in Pakse

Days 127/128, Thursday/Friday 10/11 May 2012, Pakse.

Pretty rough night, it is very hot and humid here in Pakse and the fan in my room is next to useless as it appears to be pointing at the floor, when I try and adjust it to point at me it just flops back down to pointing at the floor again. Oh well !

I had breakfast at a cafe over the road as it was cheaper than the hostel, but the guy working there was so miserable I am not going to go back again, though the good thing was the coffee was drinkable.

I will introduce my new travelling companions, who like me are solo travelling and have been on the road for a while. Mike – 27 from New York, Dani – 22 from Jerusalem and Laura – 18 from Quebec. A rather diverse group, especially me, but Mike and I have some similar music tastes – it seems to be my saviour at times ! Our plan was to meet at 9.00 with some French people, rent motorcycles and then ride up to Tat Lo in the Bolaven Plateau for a day or so. After waiting around for a while the four us of gave up on the French and went to the bike shop. Mike was the only one of us with recent experience on a bike, so Laura was going to ride with him and Dani and I were going to ride solo. The shop did not have any full automatic bikes so we were getting the inappropriately named Suzuki Smash – a 110cc clutchless manual bike. My bike – about $9 a day to rent.


I got mine first and took it for a tentative ride up the lane behind the shop, it was a bit weird but not too difficult. Mike and Dani had theirs soon after, as Mike had ridden before we decided to go for a quick scoot round the block to get used the semi-manual bikes while Dani had a lesson from the shop guy. Mike and I got a couple of blocks away when he ran out of gas – not such a good start. I rode off in search of a gas station and found one a km up the main road, they would let me fill my bike but would not sell me a container for Mike, bastards ! I got totally lost trying to find Mike; the streets are reasonably straight forward here, and not a lot of traffic so easy to ride. But when your focus is on riding you tend to pay less attention to directions. I went back to the bike shop to retrace my steps and was shocked to find Dani had crashed her bike out the back, hit a stove and poured boiling water all over her legs and feet. Laura was with her in the shower, soaking her in cold water. I raced back out to find Mike and then found a gas station about 100 metres up the road from where he had run out of gas. We shot back to the shop and handed all the bikes back and Laura took Dani to the hospital on a tuk tuk.

Mike and I went up to the hospital a couple of hours later, there is a fairly new extension to the main hospital which appears to be private, it was clean and tidy and not crowded. They had gotten a staff member from the other hospital who spoke good English to come and help out which was good. As we arrived Dani was being put into a room on her own, which was even gooder. She had been covered up with bandages and was on a saline drip, and I am assuming antibiotics. We all pretty much spent the rest of the day hanging round the hospital or the hostel with the odd feed mixed in.

After dinner Mike and I joined half a dozen French people for a few drinks,that turned into a midnight chat and music/movie swapping session and half a bottle of whisky for me….

The room in the hostel felt about 500 degrees and i could barely sleep, even the whiskies on board didng help, so lousy sleep and a mild hangover in the morning. We had arranged to meet at 7.00 am and then head to the hospital and see how Dani was, seems she probably had a better night then we did, well at least until 5.00 am when they came in to change her sheets for some weird reason.

I tracked down the doctor and it sounds like they will let her out tomorrow if there is no infection on her foot. They changed all her dressings this morning and apparently it all looks good, which is great news.
Mike decided to join the French people and get a bike and make the trip we were going to do yesterday up to Tat Lo. I am not so bothered as it was not on my plan anyway. Laura left later in the day on the same trip and I decided to stay in town for one more day to get food and drink to Dani and keep her company in hospital and then the others will take over when they get back if she is still stuck there.

I drifted to and from the hospital a couple of times during the day, took some lunch and dinner in at appropriate times and hung round a bit. I ended up with an early night in the stinking hot hostel lying on my bed listening to music and typing this post.

I know how miserable it can be on your own in a hospital in a foreign country where most of the staff do not speak English, it is incredibly isolating and can be very confusing when the nurses come in to do something that you do not understand – like change the sheets at 5.00 AM. So, happy to be paying forward a bit.

One of the things that has really impressed me with a lot of the young people I have met on my trip is how smart , worldly and considered they are. Though my kids do have one or two truely amazing friends, my views on the younger generations in general have not been entirely positive. However these views are changing for the better as I get to spend time chatting to people like, Mike, Laura and Daniela, along with some of the others I have spent time with over the past few weeks. Travelling really does broaden ones mind – in ways you do not necessarily expect.

Beer Lao delivery vehicle.


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Wannabe writer and photographer. Interested in travel and place. From Auckland, New Zealand.

One thought on “An unanticipated stay in Pakse”

  1. Doesn’t it feel strange that it doesn’t feel strange hanging out with people half our age? I have a great time with people who later realise I’m old enough to be their dad (but way cooler). It just wouldn’t happen in one’s home environment. My theory is that we gravitate towards people whom we have most in common … at that time. On the road, we’d have lots in common … but at home, errr, not so much I guess.

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