Stung Treng, a side on the Lao-Cambodian border, was supposed to be a brief stopover, nothing more than a bus change. But transport in Cambodia is not straight forward. And trying to get from Banlung to Don Det in Laos ended up being a terrible idea.
I left Banlung on a 7-something am mini-bus. It left relatively on time by Cambodian standards. I was the only white person on the bus (also pretty standard in that part of the country). I arrived in Stung Treng around 11am, and was greeted by a Cambodian fellow who told me that I’d missed my connecting bus, because no one informed him that it needed to wait for me. Yay! My options were get to the border by myself and hope to make it through and get transportation on the other side or essentially to stay in Stung Treng. That’s it, that’s all. Two options, neither particularly desirable. But I chose the first. It seemed infinitely better to stay in Stung Treng and have a secured way of getting to Don Det the following day.
So Stung Treng was my oyster. There is one store that sells Western food, and three restaurants listed in my guidebook, the main pick being closed. There is also one place to get WIFI and no sights in the town.
Stung Treng is the definition of a seedy border town: leering men, rundown streets (counter-balanced by a suspicious amount of wealth by a select few) and unkept markets. No charm, all business, that is Stung Treng. Luckily for me, I met a friendly Frenchwoman who I ate lunch with (and practice my previously fluent, now rusty French) and then a Kiwi girl of approximately my age. It’s the best company a girl can ask for in a town where no one stops.
The next day was the successful border crossing. Relatively unstressful, I seated myself on a coach, then crossed the border in prompt fashion, got on a mini-bus on the Lao side and reached Don Det by mid-morning, leaving me with a lot of time to get some much needed relaxation and down time after the chaos of Cambodia.