More Adventures in Transport

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Champasak,
Monday, December 3, 2012

SE Asia is so easy to travel. It's all networked with reliable buses that are even on time (regardless of road conditions) and you can book everything through your guest house. Despite this, I'm still amazed at a few surprises...

Travelling day.

I'm starting to get a small tight spot in my stomach when it comes to these days. Although I've enjoyed Banlung, it has a negative connotation for us because of Brian's Illness and our desire to move onto Laos. Finally well enough, we were excited to hit the road. Standing out in the dark of pre-dawn, again waiting for the elusive 'mini-bus' to pick us up. No tickets this time, just the verbal acknowledgement of one of the guest house staff. How excited were we when at only 6:05am a minibus pulls up and in we jump. Less than a minute down the road, the driver receives a call and passes the phone over to Brian. Apparently, this is a minibus bound for Phnom Penh! (Why he picked us up when we weren't on the list, I'm not quite sure). Stopping at the next pick-up, was some woman (or two) who were not ready and taking an eternity to bring down their luggage. The driver seemed unphased while Brian and I watched the time go by wondering what we were to do now. Cryptically, I tried to ask the driver about getting to our bus. Realizing that this woman won't be ready for awhile, he closes the door and drives us back to our guest house where, of course, there is NO mini-bus waiting for us. At least there were some staff awake now (albeit, not the English speaking ones) where together we tried to figure out something to do before we completely missed our bus. Eventually, we took 2 moto bikes to the bus station (nice guys considering I  didn't have any money to pay them since I'd spent it all on our bus tickets).

At the bus station I told the ticket man (a guy wearing a yellow shirt sitting at a folding table near the side of the road) that we were from Balcony guest house and someone had booked us tickets. Ok! No problem! Here's your ticket.  Here's your bus.  Oh, and you will need to make a change, but don't worry, I'll tell you...

When the bus started, so did a never ending stream of sappy romantic music videos. Over-the-top in every way. They were filled with longing glances, women in pretty dresses, slow-motion walking, shy laughter behind open fingers, play-fighting, close-ups of hands touching, picking flowers, love-sick men leaning against trees, women turning smiling while the wind gently lifts their hair...The only thing that could fulfil an 8-year-old-girl's romantic fantasy even more, would be an occasional unicorn or rainbow.

Thankfully, the bus was stopping and it must be time for our change. Only, there is no bus to change to. The man in the yellow shirt told us we had to take a moto to Steng Treng to catch our next bus. Of course, there's a willing moto driver sitting right there. I tried to explain that there were 2 of us, to which he smiled and nodded. So the three of us piled on, bags in the front, bags on the back and bags squished in between. Now I must tell you, I've been highly amused watching motor bikes driving by piled high with people and belongings. However, it is much less entertaining being on one. The poor little engine. Who knew a 125cc bike could function as a mini-van? We were so low to the ground I had to lift my legs to cramping positions so my feet wouldn't hit the road (although my flip-flops bear the grunt of where I slipped a couple of times). 14 km Brian saw on a sign as we were tooting along. Thank goodness the road was well paved!

Pulling off into a little shack/restaurant we sat. Within about 2 minutes, the lady of the establishment hands me her cell phone where someone on the other end lets me know that the bus will be there in 15 minutes.

My head was reeling! I'd gone from not having a ticket, missing our pick-up, being thrown onto a moped for 14 km barely able to hold on. Now I'm receiving phone calls in the middle of nowhere telling me all is how it should be?  It was only our first stop, still in Cambodia and 8:30am. We had a boarder crossing more bus transfers and boat ride to get through today.

I think I'm going to take up smoking...

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kittnrob on

I love this....the crazy lines of communication ! In Canada you would be forgotten as soon as your bus (or moped) pulled away....there it seems like it is very important to quite a few people that you make it to your destination...awesome!!!!

2totango on

In Laos now, it seems a little packet of money with a note gets passed along from transfer to transfer with us. Almost like we're not trusted to purchase our own tickets - LOL!

fay on

hahaha...she smugly laughed, sitting at her computer desk. Let me you were riding the 'mini-van', you weren't wearing a helmet? glad i can do this vicariously through you

2totango on

No helmet this time :( If you rent the bike you have an option to wear one if you want, but when 'catching a ride' you don't! No leathers either...we only have a few visible scars as memories ;)

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