Another awesome road

Trip Start Jan 08, 2011
Trip End Dec 20, 2011

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Where I stayed
khou kham guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Monday, May 16, 2011

Day 128;

Pretty uneventful day had a 8 hour bus journey, that when we first saw the bus thought it would be an extremely long painful journey, all the other busses looked pretty luxurious,the VIP buses they call them, all the white tourists getting on looking smug and comfy!! but ow no not ours, the one daily bus that does the phonsavan trip is the old state bus... it was a falling apart rust bucket! one big plus - its tires where huge and they had grip so poo you other busses with your reclining seats air conditioning and LITTLE tires ha ha ha. Phil got talking to a Lao man who spoke English really well, headed to the same place as he is getting married in 5 days, he said he would have invited us if we had been here, which was really nice, wish we could but 5 days is a long time to wait and our visa starts on the 18. The bus was empty so we each had two seats now this is luxury!

It actually turned out really well! There was no more than 12 people on the bus, two of them were the driver and boy, one was a kid and only one other Chinese we could stretch out, switch seats whenever we wanted to get all the good photos, even managed to sneak a sig out the back window! Result! Apparently not too many people travel this route - one bus a day and it was empty.

How to explain the journey...
Well we have another nomination for top gear - route 13 between luang prabang and phou khoun and route 7 between phou khoun and phonsavan in xiang khouang province.

The first part of the journey - never have seen so much diversity of scenery, as you looked out the window, one minute banana trees, the next, reed like plants, then trees, then wildly growing bush,then grass, then all of it tangled together - like a mix between a woodland we might see at home, a tropical rainforest and all the reed stuff and long grass youve seen in films of Vietnam - beautiful to see.

For 8 hours, as far as you could see, in every direction, just mountainous green land - sure, we felt remote before in India, but this was different - didn't pass through one city, or anything that resembled one, the closest we saw to a town was something the size of a small village back home. Just nothing - no cars, no roads, no houses, no people, just absolutely nothing - as far away from 21st century world as we might get.

I mean, route 13 which we've taken part of twice now, apart from one other road hundreds of kilometres west is the ONLY northbound road from vientiane - the capital where we entered. Route 7 from phou khan is the ONLY eastbound road in the central plains -
From what we can gather from the map we have, there is only 13 major roads or routes as there called in the ENTIRE country, and you say route 8 for example and you might imagine a fairly substantial road, nope. Can't speak for the rest of the country but these roads we have taken in the central plains and the north east are near enough single track paved roads, that just traverse mile upon mile upon mile of mountain, swinging round the edges of these mountains mile upon mile upon mile - looking at a map you can't really grasp it but today we got - its one road, and we were on it, there's no little roads off it, there's no little tracks, there's no civilisation for hours in-between and when you do see something it's the tribes of village people living in wooden homes they built by the roadside with the communal washing place by the roadside and the small kids with the baby siblings strapped to their backs.

Glad we took the road...

As you go up slightly higher the lower jungle stuff gives way to thick dense woodland a much darker green, and again higher as we neared phonsavan and the xiang khouang plateau it changes again, flatlands, and more hilly than mountainous, sometimes a few minutes of rice fields, small lakes or a lagoon and then to something which can only be described as tellytubby land!!! The weirdest greenest grassy hills, then trees and shrubs you could find in Europe - like firs and weird.

The one good thing about the way the land is, is that I guess it must be nearly impossible, or it will take a very long time, to spoil maybe the rest of the world won't swallow it up any time soon!!

Got to phonsavan about an hour early desperate for the toilet so bit of a result! Taxi drivers collared us and we actually ended up going to one of there guest houses have a tiny little room with a large tv, what else do we need!
Nice snack then went and booked our tour for tomorrow and bus from here to vinh in Vietnam. should be a good day!
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