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Laos Khammouane province photos: Thakhet - Na Hin - Na Phouak - Konglor caves: 06 - 13 Oct 2006
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The land of Khammouane province in the central part of Laos looks like central western forest of Thailand. It has high steep limestone hills, fast flowing streams and rivers, caves, underground rivers and water chambers. On top of that Khammouane is home to tribal people as Sankhlaburi and Umphang districts in Thailand is home to Mon, Karen and other tribal races.

These photos cover our trip which started in Bangkok by night train to Udon Thani, then by bus to Nakhon Phanom. After that we crossed the Mekong river to Thakhet - capital town of Khammouane where we used truck and boat to travel to Hin Boun river basin surrounded by limestone rock mountains. During the visit to Konglor cave I dropped my camera into the river and so this album ends at the upstream end (hole) of the cave.

Rice field along the rail road to Udon Thani
Rice paddy field seen in the morning before arriving Udon Thani, from Bangkok - Nong Khai night sleeper train. We arrived Udon Thani at about 8:30 a.m. about one hour later than scheduled arrival time. After a buffet breakfast at a restaurant we went to the bus station to catch the bus to Nakhom Phanom departing at 10:00 a.m. Along way we saw some places and paddy fields under flood water. The west to east driving trip took about 5 hours.

View of Thakhet and mountains to the east from Nakhon Phanom
View of Lao Thakhet with backdrop of mountains seen from Thailand's Nakhon Phanom. To the western bank of Mekong river, Nakhon Phanom is largely plain and flat land on which are rice paddy and other agricultural farms dotted with factories and shops and towns linked to each other with highway roads. To the east, the land between Mekong and Lao-Vietnam border is rough and mountainous.

Selling Loi Krathons in Thakhet
When we arrived Thakhet by ferry boat crossing from Thai side it was already dark. Being fullmoon day (07 Oct 2006) both sides of the river were celebrating the end of Buddhist Lent. On Thai side people used large brightly lit floating boats, while Lao people were using Loi Krathons to float on the river water. On such festival days border crossing would open till 10 or 11 p.m. Daily opening hours of border crossing are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. There was no bridge.

Car carrier boats on Mekong river between Thakhet and Nakhon Phanom
In the morning at the breakfast we saw the boat transporting trucks and lorries on the river. Most of these trucks carrying cargo such as canned and packaged foodstuff, construction materials, home and office equipment, electronic and electrical parts, etc. come from Thailand. From Lao side these trucks would bring forest products like wood and bamboo to Thai soil. Lao beer (Beer Lao) and Lao cafe (Lao Coffee) are quite popular among foreign tourists but rarely seen exported to Thai side.

Thakhet town from Mekong hotel
Thakhet town from Mekong river side hotel roof. The dusty sleepy town has not much to see for the one who seeks for something active and adventure. However for those with eyes it is a good place to soak yourself in the discovery of what the small Lao town means to you. There are things similar to Thai, Vietnamese culture, as well as a bit of Chinese ways plus French of course. There are a selection of small guesthouses scattering around the town. Some of them offer family style hospitality. Small guesthouses may not have a restaurant, but then you can taste Lao, Vietnamese, Thai or Chinese style food in the restaurants if you know where to find them.

Boat repair shop on Mekong river
Floating boat repair yard on Mekong river. To perform the inspection and repair of boat underwater part, pulleys and chain blocks were used to lift the boat above the water level. A lot of man power was used for all types of lifting and moving.

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