Loooong bus ride to Pakse
Trip Start Oct 16, 2009
15Trip End Nov 15, 2009
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This day turned out to be a loooong one. I wanted to do the 6-7 hour bus ride south, from Thakhek to Pakse. Some locals had told Ilse and me that buses started running in that direction early morning. But when I got to the station at 8.30 a.m. (3 km and an expensive tuk-tuk ride out of town) I discovered, just as Ilse who was already there, that the first bus was at 10.30. Pfff.
We filled our time chatting a bit, buying foods, looking things up in the guidebooks for Laos and Thailand. In the end the wait was not that long and we were able to get into the bus right when it got there at 10, and get good seats in seperate places on the bus. The silent mutual understanding was that we weren't great friends but could chat to pass time, but now was the time to each get a window seat.
Chatting with Lao
Things started out fine, I was on the shadowy side of the bus. All going well I should still arrive just before sunset and have a whole evening in Pakse. At a stop in a town along the way, Savannakhet, lots of Lao people started talking to me as we waited outside during the one hour lunch stop. I was leafing through my Lonely Planet and some older guys tried to see, so I showed them the book. They were really interested and we chatted a bit in English and Lao. Then three students (a boy and two girls) started chatting to me in English. They were funny.
We got on the bus again and continued our journey, but then it broke down at 3 p.m. and was only fixed by 5 p.m. Another bus to Pakse passed but was already full, so I'd have had to pay again and stand for hours. I decided to wait for our own bus to be fixed.
I spent those hours chatting with the three students and with some French travellers from Lille, a nice couple. The students offered me some fruits they'd picked from trees, it looked like a brown long bean containing smaller beans but was a very sour and fresh fruit, with a hard yellow potato-like texture.
We had some great laughs because those students were hilarious. Especially the two girls were giggly and naughty. They had told me that one of them wanted a tall 'falang' boyfriend, so when she stood next to the tall French guy she measured him and made all these funny faces. And when he used some wet travel napkins to wash his hands and face, she was all curios and he gave her one. She proceeded to gesture as if wiping her ass with it.
The student boy was a very feminine boy and I suspected he was gay. He and the girls had been asking me my age, and whether I had a husband or kids... later he asked again if I had a boyfriend, and I told him, no but I'd like to have a girlfriend. He clapped his hands in excitement and said: oooooh, and I would like to have a boyfriend! You and me are the same! and we talked about this for a while longer. His friends seemed to know as well and were completely cool with it, which I still find quite surprising for a country with so many traditional sides, and for their age as well (17-18).
They also told me they thought my eyes and nose were so beautiful, especially my nose, ha ha. Because it's less flat than theirs. The boy said he wanted plastic surgery on his nose. But I told them I also have sort of an Asian nose, and showed them the pictures I brought of my family, including my father with Indonesian blood.
We also had fun going through my Point It booklet and them teaching me a few Lao words.
Oops, bought chicken embryos
At a short stop some ladies and kids offered foods for sale through the windows. I heard one girl saying 'khai', chicken, so I bought that, thinking I was buying round cakes containing chicken. But they turned out to be eggs with baby chickens! Yuck. I gave them to the students and they loved them, ate them right away.
Les Ch'tis (Hein??)
By the way, I spoke to that French couple from Lille about the popular movie "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis", a film that basically takes the piss out of northern France. They were not too happy about that movie, and get teased with it all the time, even though it's not exactly about Lille. And they also disliked the fact that the movie mixes up the accents and traits of that region. It wasn't right. But they understood that I found it a funny movie.
Pakse at last
All in all it was a loooong trip but a fun one. But it didn't leave me much time in Pakse. I didn't like the room at the hotel I'd picked but didn't feel like wandering the dark streets with my empty stomach to find a nicer one.
I ate some dinner and used the internet shortly and went to sleep in that ugly room with no atmospere. In the morning the views from the terrace were nice though, out over a river.