Backpacking in Southern Laos: Attapeu.
Above Photo: Mountains near the town of Attapeu, Laos, from the new bus station.
As I retrace the route of ill-fated British and American backpackers in my novel BACK, I was bound to visit Attapeu in southern Laos.
I used Attapeu as a base for the backpackers before their ill-fated jungle trek to the Ho Chi Minh Trail, looking for something left behind from the Vietnam War, and here I was, arriving in Attapeu again, against my better judgment.
In days gone by, arriving in Attapeu, a remote town in southern Laos, wasn’t the end of your problems, having travelled over bumpy, rutted and dusty red-dirt roads to get there.
Once you arrived in Attapeu you were dumped at the bus station 7 kilometers from town, often with absolutely no transport alternatives, meaning you were sometimes faced with a long walk with a heavy backpack, all the way into town. This is what happened to the backpackers in my novel BACK.
If you were really lucky, someone might take pity on you and stop to negotiate an expensive (for Laos) lift in or on whatever vehicle they were driving.
Having done that walk before, I have often wondered what kind of idiot decided to build a bus station so far from town, when there was so much available land much closer to it.
Amazingly, on this visit, we discovered Attapeu has finally built a new bus station, much closer to town, and much easier to reach.
It has a covering of concrete, not just a dirt floor, and even shops instead of wooden shacks. Plus, it has more tuk tuk and motorbike drivers going into town from there.
The romance of the old bus station has gone, but in terms of access to Attapeu itself, it’s great.
Unfortunately, once you get into Attapeu town as an independent traveler, you are still confronted by challenges that the backpackers in BACK also faced, which I’ll deal with in another post…
See the trailer for our new film, M.I.A. A Greater Evil. Set in the jungles of Laos and Vietnam, the film deals with the possible fate of US servicemen left behind after the US pulled out of the Vietnam War.
For POWs left behind in Laos, see also:
© Peter Alan Lloyd
BACK Parts 1 and 2:
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