As we sped down the road from Tadlo to Salavan in the Bolavean Plateau, Laos I glanced briefly at the gauges thinking to myself they seem to drive a little more carefully here. The instrument panel was dead, stopped around 290000 km, and the pickup converted to a taxi we were driving definitely had more km on it than that. It didn’t surprise me too much, road rule, or rater rule in general didn’t carry a lot of weight here. Jom, a resturant owner I befriended was on his way to pick up his wife at the hospital, she was expecting and had gone that mornng for a check up. There is a doctor in Tadlo, but apparently the one in Salavan is much better. Jom had offered for me to join him for the ride as I had expressed interest in visiting the market there, the one in Tadlo was practically non existent.
As we traversed the highlands Jom talked about having to sell his farm to pay his mothers medical bills. Being the oldest of the family all the others, parents, siblings, were his responsibility. The others worked, but Jom’s restaurant was their best source of income. The average family of four survives on about $50 US a month, I spend that in 3 days here. Jom talked at length of his desire to go to Singapore for work and possible university, a fine prospect considering his self taught English was fantastic. I did what I could to put him in contact with the Singapore embassy in Laos, but there is other information he needs that they were unable to provide. None the less he is one step closer to his dream. And perhaps at the very least he might succeed in sending his daughter and son away to other countries to study.
I am headed to Vietnam today, I didn’t see as much of Laos as I would have liked, but that just gives me a good reason to come back. This is a wonderful place with fantastic people, the landscape is fairly untouched and the continued clearing of unexploded ordinance should make this place even better in the future. My remaining time was spent on the plateau and on Don Det, one of the “4000 islands”. Don Det was also rather relaxing, electricity only from 6pm-10pm, most travel was done by boat. The island was covered in rice fields and small pathways, and boasted decent sunsets for an inland location. There was even a bakery, mind you he was described by most as “the lazy baker”, goods were usually ready around 2 in the afternoon.
I do have pictures, but can’t post them at the moment, I will try when I get to Vietnam as I should have time while waiting for some suits and shirts to be made.