We Thought the Previous 12 Hour Travel was Bad...
15.05.2008 - 16.05.2008 32 °C
To all you concerned parents out there, yes, we reached Luang Prabang safely, although not as smoothly as we had wished...
As a side note, I finally figured that the room we had in Vientiane originally did not have a bathroom attached, but a full cupboard. What they did was to convert one of the cupboard sections into the entrance of the toilet, cut a hole in the toilet wall, and then locked the original toilet door from the inside. So technically, I could lock myself in the toilet, exit from the old door and do whatever I wanted, while making Tan thinking I was spending ages in the loo.
Ok, back to the trip.
Saying good-bye to Vientiane and Mixay Guesthouse, we took the 9am bus to Luang Prabang. Now, everyone says that that bus service is now pretty reliable, and should take about 10 hours, maybe slightly more if the weather is bad. Our first mistake was taking that bus, even though we had arrived in time to take the 8am bus. We figured, what's the hurry? It's only an hour's difference. Boy were we wrong.
The first half of the trip was fine, although we were blasted with Lao music the whole way (I really mean the whole way) and the driver turned the air-con off when we reached the mountains (so much for an air-con bus). Although we were expecting the bus to be filled with falang (it was a VIP bus), it turned out there were only 6 passengers, and the two of us were the only foreigners, so we had more than enough space to sleep and do anything we felt like, within the usual seat constraints. Lunch was reasonable, thankfully not too filling, or else there would be another puking episode. Now post-lunch, that's where things went haywire.
From lunch to the end of the trip, the bus stalled 7, yes seven, times, and each time, it stalled for a longer and longer time, starting from a mere 5 minutes (aw, small thing) to about 45 minutes (WHEN ON EARTH ARE WE GOING TO REACH???), and then to more than an hour (oh no... will we have to spend the night in the middle of nowhere with a bus load of mostly men?). One of the guys on the bus had a gun with him, looked like an AK or something (need to go play CS again, I recognize it from the game, but can't remember the name of the gun). Everytime we broke down, the driver and the mechanic would get off, as well as the gunman. We didn't ask, but we figured the journey wasn't that safe actually, but nothing happened, and we're thankful for that.
We FINALLY reached Luang Prabang at 9:30pm, 2.5 hours late. Thanks to Tan's quick thinking the night before, we had already booked a room in a guesthouse, thus avoiding the long walk around the town looking for a guesthouse which still had rooms.
The room we got was a godsend, it was practically a hotel room, but without the air-con, just a fan. Still, it was a very good end to a very bad day.
Today we haven't done much, except to walk around the town. As Vientiane was, Luang Prabang is pretty laid back, although less so because of the multitudes of falang that come through here. There is at least some form of nightlife, although not really the kind we dig.
We saw a bunch of men playing this game resembling marbles, but they played it with a tiny red ball (your centre "marble), and relatively big metal balls (your own "marbles"). It was pretty interesting, especially considering the fact they were playing it in the middle of the day. Tan was pretty bored though, so we left after a short while. Maybe tomorrow I'll go back and check it out, maybe take a few shots as well.