Going to the Country
Posted by Heliocentrism on January 2, 2010
December 30-31, 2009
A Really Bad Hotel
Mark and I kept seeing fliers for the Rivertime Resort, but we were checked into the Dork Champa Hotel for our entire stay in Laos. This was not a good move on our part, and I have vowed never to book more than one night at any hotel or hostel online again. If, after the first night, I like the place, then I will stay longer.
The Dork Champa was not that great. The staff seemed nice enough and they went out of their way to help us after the scooter crash. We asked for directions to a pharmacy. After looking at our bloody bandages that needed changing they decided to drive to the store and get to things we needed for us. That was really nice of them.
Their hearts were in the right place, but they did not know how to run a hotel. With time and experience I’m sure the Dork Champa will be a great place to stay. But while we were there, they were still learning how to run things.
Right now they seemed to lack the know-how. The wi-fi that was advertised to be in every room, wasn’t. I had to go to the lobby to connect to the internet. While sitting there I noticed several guests asking for soap, toilet paper, and clean towels. My room was never cleaned nor my sheets changed while I was there. I too had to ask for more soap and toilet paper like all the other guests.
It seems that at this hotel and others in which I stayed while backpacking, the staff just didn’t understand how wi-fi works. They think that by just installing a wireless router that everywhere in their hotel will have wi-fi access. They don’t seem to realize that there is a limit to the wi-fi’s range.
One night we went the Dork Champa’s restaurant for dinner. The burger on the menu looked really good, so we ordered two. The waiter explained that there were out of beef, so we could either order something else or wait for them to run to the store. We chose to wait. It was worth it.
The burgers were really good. They were also a bit small, but that was no problem; they weren’t expensive at all. So, we ordered some more. Again the waiter told us that they were out of beef and someone had to run to the store.
During the nights I stay at the Dork Champa there was a thing outside my room that squeaked very loudly. Usually it made noise 3 or 4 times a night. But on the Monday night/ Tuesday morning it squeaked every 15-20 minutes during the night. At 6:00 in the morning I marched down to the front desk and ordered the clerk to follow me. I took him right outside my room so he could hear the racket for himself. I refused to stay there one more night.
Mark and I packed our bags and checked out. The people at the Dork Champa were nice enough to give us our money back. I was glad to get out of that hotel so I could get a good night’s sleep. Mark was glad to get away from the flies that seemed to always congregate outside his hotel room.
We went just a block away to The Laos Silk Hotel. This time we checked out the room before we checked in. Unfortunately they are not on hostelworld.com. The place was clean; no flies or squeaking. They had wireless routers on each of their 5 floors. We only stayed there for one night, so who knows how often they clean the rooms for non-checking out guests? But, it was a hell of a lot better than Dork Champa!
Out of Towning
The next day we headed for the Rivertime Resort for a little R&R. According to the resort’s brochure it should cost you about 20USD to get there from Vientiane. We got a tuk-tuk for 200,000KIP.
We were the slowest thing on the road. The only vehicles we managed to pass was a truck that was in reverse and a man pushing a cart. We eventually got there after getting lost and found again a couple of times.
We enjoyed walking through the village, though there wasn’t much to see. It’s just a nice place to get away from city life and be close to nature and all her bugs.
The second day we took the half-a-day boat trip into Thangon, a nearby village. It really wasn’t worth it. It took 3 hours to get to the village of Thangon on a boat with a noisy motor and once there we were taken to a floating restaurant. Never mind that the resort we just came from had its own floating restaurant and that we floated for 3 hours to get there. Mark and I ordered food and began to eat. When we were almost done a waiter came over and asked if we would, “like to sail down the river now?”
After eating, and not sailing down the river, Mark and I took a walk around the village. We thought that this was going to be a bigger village than the one we saw the day before. We expected to see temples, shops, something…
It was richer. It had bigger houses; ones made with brick instead of bamboo. But it was not even as interesting as the first village we saw. There were no temples or shops. After walking about for 20 minutes with kip in our pockets wanting something to buy. Mark and I sadly got back on the pontoon for the noisy 3 hour ride back home.
If you go to Rivertime, take the 1 hour river ride not the half day one. The 1 hour ride comes with a visit to the village healer. The one to Thangon is just 6 hours of this:
It still could have been fun if the boat had more shade, we brought more pillows, or we could hear each other talk over the loud motor. It began to be uncomfortable when I had to pee. Out of desperation, I asked the driver to stop at the side of the river. After which I got off, climbed up a hill, and peed in front of a herd of cattle. They mooed disapprovingly.
Our New Year’s eve was filled with bad karaoke and strings being tied to our wrists for good luck. Which is perfect because we love bad karaoke and needed some good luck!
(ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ)
(Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao)
How to get there:
- You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
- You can get your visa before your trip to Laos, or you can buy a visa at the border.
- How much your visa costs depends on your nationality.
- People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
- To be completely sure, check with the Laotian embassy in your country.
- Tourism Authority +856-21-212251-Ext 103 or 101
- Emergency Numbers
- Police 191
- Fire & Ambulance 190
- Do not get more kip than you need. No one will buy kip from you whenit’s time to leave Laos.
- You can use baht here. Just know that your change will be in kip.
- If you get really sick, try to go to Thailand.
- 18°09’34.6″N 102°44’04.9″E
- This place is near Vientiane. (I still don’t know how to pronounce that word.)
- It’s about 30 minutes to an hour out of the capital city depending on whether you’re in a speeding taxi cab or a tuk-tuk that’s about to fall apart.
- Both seem to cost the same, though cabs are harder to find when you’re on the street.
- If you have access to a phone, you can call a cab, if not, you might be doomed to take a tuk-tuk ride.
- 8USD per bed per night or
- 38USD per night for a private room.
- When we were there we took a shared room (8USD per bed) but it was just the 2 of us in the room.
- According to the resort’s brochure it should cost you about 20USD to get there from Vientiane.
- You can pay for your entire stay by credit card, though it takes a long time to process.
- It’s easier and less nerve-racking if you pay in cash; USD, THB, or KIP.
- Make sure to visit an ATM before you go to Rivertime Resort. There are no ATMs near the resort.
- Bring bug spray, shampoo, and anything else you might need or want. There are no stores nearby.
- The Resort provides towels, bedding, soap, toilet paper, internet, and even some books.
- The water you shower with does smell funny. It comes from underground and might contain sulfur.