December 12

Monday morning saw us all up bright and early – we had breakfast at 7am. We were on our way to view a potential school site but first we had to stop to pick up some pork sandwiches from a roadside vendor for lunch. We travelled through the beautiful countryside until we reached Xekong province. We discovered that we needed to get a flat bed ferry to reach our scouting area! A steep slope down to the ferry was expertly handled by Toui. If only we had known that this was going to be the easiest part of the journey!

After getting off the ferry we encountered some pretty interesting roads to say the least - full of deep ruts and in two separate places we had to cross a ford. Halfway up a rather steep hill and over 4 hours into our journey the van started to overheat so we stopped to enjoy the incredible view and ask a travelling salesman where the village was located. 30 km away at the top of that hill over there he told us! Well it had taken us 90 mins to do 38km we decided we wouldn't be able to make it before it got dark and so we turned back to Paksé. On our way back we stopped off to visit the Tad Gneuang waterfall and taste some tea and coffee at the Bea Plantation. We had a great supper at the Daolin restaurant very popular with foreigners. Thinking about today’s adventure, I won't be complaining about Manitoba roads, well at least until I'm back in Winnipeg!

Jackie Markstrom