Twisting & Turning the Long & Winding Road
Trip Start Jul 22, 2009
163Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
I was up by 6am as I had to be at the bus station by 7am to check in for the 8am ride to Vientiane. Sitting next to me is a guy from Switzerland who had rented a motorbike in Vientiane last week and rode through the Laos countryside up to Luang Prabang. We chatted about motorcycles and touring on them.
Barely an hour into the 10 hour drive and the bus stops on the side of the road. Looks like the driver needed a pee & smoke break. Some passengers get off the bus for a pee and smoke. Then we realize that there's more to the stop. There's something wrong with the bus. The mechanic is crouched inside the engine compartment with a wrench. 20 minutes later and we're back on the road.
The road twists and turns as we climb the mountains. There are villages and people all along the road. It's making for a slow go. I doubt the bus ever made it over 50km/hr. On a 400km drive, that makes for a long day.
We stop for lunch in a small village. The meal is included in the bus ticket price. I notice two lines. One has a solid meal of vegetables and meat, the other soup. My throat has started to hurt lately. Still haven't gotten over the cold I had before I left. Soup might be a good idea. I get in that line and a young woman from the bus points out the obvious, that there's a soup line and solid food line. I thank her.
Just over half way to Vientiane and we drop off some passengers in Vang Vien. This was my original planned stop until I decided to get back on schedule. I doubt I missed much. The town has been catering to the young drinking and staying up all night crowd. The river runs through town and they have these tubing runs. Bars line the river and music blares all night long. As they float down the river they stop for drinks. I've heard some pretty horrific stories of things that have happened. In Hanoi we met a young frenchman, Maxime, who had his foot all bandaged up from the tubing. Skipping this was a good idea.
Back on the road and there are now a bunch of empty seats. We get to spread out. The scenery is breathtaking and all the villages we pass through are full of thatched roofed abodes. It would have been nice to have been able to stop in and see them. Maybe some other trip.
We get to the bus station in Vientiane. I'm panicking because I only have 20,000 kip. The tuk-tuk ride into the downtown area where my guest house is will probably cost more then this. Last night I had looked for an ATM machine on my way to and from meeting Nao but couldn't find the one I had previously seen. No worries as I expected there to be one at the bus station. This morning I did find an ATM kiosk across the street from the bus station but there was no ATM machine in it.
I check around the bus Vientiane bus station and no ATM. Then a tuk-tuk driver asks if I need a ride. I say yes and ask how much. 15,000 kip. Yes! I pile into the tuk-tuk with 5 other people already there. Then 2 other people get directed to jump on. The young woman from lunch plus a traveling buddy get in. The back of the tuk-tuk is full when we see them direct 2 more people to get in. The man get's in the back and the woman in the front seat. I really don't know why I start worrying about this stuff, the Universe already knew how much cash I would need.
Off we go. Drop off a couple of people and then we're downtown. Everybody out. Have to walk from here. I pull out my Lonely Planet book to look at a map when the young woman asks if I need help. She was here last week and knows the downtown area quite well. She says to follow them to the river. I knew from there approximately where the guest house was.
We start chatting. The young woman is from the British Columbia interior. Her traveling buddy is from Ireland and they hooked up a couple weeks back. They're splitting up after today. She to Bangkok and then onward to Australia on a 6 month journey. He's been traveling for a year and a half. Been to South, Central and North America. Spent 9 months in the USA. He's about ready to settle down. Buses, trains and a different bed every few days has all been done over and over again and he's not enjoying himself anymore. He's hoping to settle in the US, Oregon I think.
We get to the road that follows the river. They ask which guest house I have my reservation at. I tell them. Coincidently, NOT, the guy was heading to the same place as he had stayed there when he was in town last. We check in and then go out for some Indian food. When we were walking to the guest house the young woman (yes, I forget her name) asked me what I do. I try to summarize. She's never heard of any of this new age way of thinking. The Law of Attraction, etc. At some point in the conversation she asks if I'm planning on starting my own church.
But maybe that's just the point. We don't need a new church. We need to understand that all the current churches are already serving their purpose. They are all teaching us the same message but we misinterpret how to put it into practice. Too much ego has skewed the original message as provided by Christ, Buddha, Mohamed and all the other great spiritual leaders. We need to simplify and reunite the practices and only then can we all live together as one big happy family. Is that too much to ask?
Many thanks to another of my angels!
Think It! Feel It! Live It! Love It!