DON DET, Laos // A few months ago we drove from New Mexico to Oklahoma City for 8 hours and I thought that was long. The trip from Phnom Penh to the border of Laos was 12 hours. In the end though it wasn’t all that bad.
We left the hotel in Phnom Penh at 6am and took a tuk tuk for 10 minutes to the city center to find the Sorya Bus Station, the only operator that does the long trip to the border.
The bus was probably the oldest I’ve ever been on. It made the nasty buses I’ve taken out of Port Authority in New York City seem brand new and luxurious. Every seat had a hole and covered lightly with dust or dirt. The reclining nobs seemed to be stuck in either the up or down position permanently. The side of the wind shield opposite of the driver had a massive crack right in the middle, as if a rock was thrown directly at it. However, the air condition did actually work well. Also, I counted a total of 45 seats, and only 9 were taken, including Jenny and I. We had a lot of room to lay down, spread our stuff out, and relax the whole time.
We left about 45 minutes late, sometime around 7:30am. We stopped for lunch right outside the city of Kratie around 1pm, then around 4pm to pick up a French couple in the city Stung Treng, the last Cambodian city to the north. It was then about an hour drive through the middle of nowhere. This was really interesting to me to witness the Cambodia that no one sees // just empty land and an old dirt road.
We stopped on the border and there was an arch in font of us. We had to take our passports, Cambodian visa, and Laos entry ticket and walk for about 200 meters. We checked out of Cambodia and then had to process our paperwork for the Laos visa. It took about an hour total. Once through, we got into a tuk tuk truck that drove us 20 minutes to Nakasang pier in Laos. Here we switched onto a boat that took 15 minutes to Don Det, a small island in the middle of the Mekong river. This place is a popular backpacker stop because it is right on the border. We got to the guesthouse right after 6 o’clock. Door to door, Phnom Pehn, Cambodia to Don Det, Laos took exactly 12 hours. We are happy to relax here for a few days before traveling north to Thakhek to see the rock climbing scene.