The Southern Bus Station
Trip Start Jan 01, 2013
11Trip End Jan 21, 2013
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I'm sitting in the bus bound for Sayoboury (or Sayanbouli, Xaianbuly depending on who you speak to) and after 4 hours on this ultra glamorous vehicle, I am hopefully being met by a 'sawngteau' (ute with bench seats in the back) to take me to the Nam Kan River District where the sanctuary is. The bus is old, everything is strapped to the top (bags, boxes, rice...motorbikes??), and the inside will soon be crammed beyond capacity. The atmosphere is friendly though. Yesterday I met a family of 18 people! After a while chatting they decided I needed to be included in their family portrait at the airport!
When I landed in Luang Prabang I fell in love
Then last night I found the most amazing bar/ restaurant. Very much like the setting of the beach. It was so relaxing and I could have stayed for days. It was all wooden, airy, lit with candles. Cushions, low line tables and sheeshas filled the main bungalow. There was also a huge deck handmade out of bamboo and lined with cushions and matts. There I found a spot to drink 3 mojitos, listen to music and eat food overlooking the river and someone's veggie farm. I met some other travellers and then went contentedly to beddy byes (after a short but sweet Skype call ;)
Back to today. Again, another early start
Currently there is some controversial action happening on the bus. From what I've read, (and then experienced on another lao bus trip) the unofficial bus seating arrangement is thatpeople come and put something on the seat to reserve it. The unfortunate late comers are stuck with the free standing plastic stools which will be haphazardly placed in the isle- the ultimate in (un)safety and (dis)comfort... Harsh but fair :).
2 Tourists have decided that the seat numbering system is a better way to go and have asked local people to get up to give them their seats
One Laotian matriarch has taken matters into her own hands. She grabbed my ticket, checked the number and booted the guy in my assigned seat out and has proceeded to rearrange the rest of the 70 person bus (made to seat 50). Maybe it's a sign of the times, traditions giving way to western style systems.
I'm not sure of the numbering system for the stools though!! Off to Sayaboury we go :)
Turns out a man holding a baby was a stool sitter. So I offered to swap. The stools are as dangerous and uncomfortable as I'd imagined. They slide, jump, tip (the first 2 hours were fun but after 5 hours of riding I was sore!) But I think I earned some good karma and when dad, mum and baby got off the bus I got smiles, waves and even blown a kiss from bub :)