I decided to go over to Laos first and then to Thailand but the initial plan was to go to Thailand from Cambodia and later to Laos and then from Laos fly to Burma but I dropped that idea and decided to cross all the borders by land in Asia also looked up for possibility of crossing overland from Burma to India.
I booked a 10 hour van from Siem Reap to Pakse (a small town in Southern Laos) and tuk-tuk picked me from the hotel in the morning and dropped me at a hostel where a group of backpackers were already waiting. I also settled down in a quiet corner until the van arrived. It was amazing how the everyone’s backpacks were loaded in the small van under the seats by the driver and his partner. I thought I will be pakse by late afternoon or early evening and depending on how I feel, either I will stay the night at pakse or continue north to Vientiane by the overnight bus. Ride was mostly on a single road with traffic in both directions and it was all green if you looked outside the window. Van stopped at a small restaurant in a small town in the late afternoon, some people ate lunch. I was keen on reaching Pakse and having a good meal so I didn’t eat anything. Stop was longer than usual as the van disappeared after dropping everyone off and removing everyone’s luggage and after one hour another van came and everyone boarded to continue the journey. After 45 minutes we were are the Cambodia and Laos border and one guy collected our passports and visa plus the extra fee and came back after 40 minutes with the Cambodian visa and all the stamps. Then he asked where everyone is going and I was the only one going to Pakse and everyone else was going to 4000 islands. Everyone was sitting at this road side restaurant at the border on Cambodian side and our new driver and his new partner had couple of more friends waiting near the restaurant and they took the corner table and started their party. I spoke to one of the guy while waiting at the first stop and asked him about the departure time and he signaled me to join them and I sat with them, they offered me food and the beer can they were enjoying and I politely declined and glad that I ordered some food. This group of four locals when they start drinking they all raised their beers can and said something similar to cheers in the local language and started drinking. I started smiling when they repeated the same thing after every four minutes, one of them will raise his can and others will join him. After they did for 20th time I could not control myself and asked one of them why they are doing this after every minute, he spoke little bit of English and he replied we friendly and happy and we do this. It was fun to watch to watch them.
I was already late as per the estimated arrival time and waiting for the next transport option from border, after some time the guy who got the visas came and said let’s go, everyone picked up their backpacks and crossed the barrier gate and strolled in to Laos. Guy was in front on this scooter and he pointed towards the van and when I started going towards the van he said not you, you go straight. I said straight, I am not walking to Pakse he laughed and pointed to the other restaurant on the Laos side and said wait for the bus and then offered to drop me there on his scooter. When I asked him how much longer I need to wait for the bus, he said about one hour and I mentally prepared myself for spending the night at Pakse.
I was the only customer at the empty restaurant and the owner came outside when he saw me and I told him I am waiting for the bus to Pakse. He was a quiet man and had a very calm and positive vibe on his smiling face, he pointed to the chair and told me to get comfortable. He went back to the room on the side of the restaurant and I guess resumed whatever he was doing. I settled down on one of the table and looked around the restaurant, it was build on a raised wooden platform, it was also home of few birds in the cages which were hanging on the side, chickens, cats and couple of dogs.
After some time the owner he brought a torch which was broken. All the pieces of the torch were disassembled and he was fixing it artistically with full attention and in the background I could hear the chickens running around and noise from some construction which going on at a distance and noise of the wind when it hit the trees but he was oblivious to his surroundings. He was patiently and silently fixing his torch and when he was almost done two kids came to the restaurant and one of them was loud and happy about something. He asked me where I am from and I asked him his name which I don’t remember now. After some time once the kids finished drinking their sodas they put on the music and one kid started dancing, it was funny and then they offered me to put my music and I plugged in my phone to the music system. I was smiling while kids were dancing and Gurdas Mann ‘s song playing in the background “Apna Punjab hove” I told myself welcome to Laos.