Laos - Thailand
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
54Trip End May 05, 2011
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I got the same bus back to Pakse that I'd arrived on - a doubledecker coach, filled with locals, and which plays Lao pop music full blast all the way. I called it the disco bus. I was, as always, thrown off the bus in a random place at the side of a road, and ushered into a tuk tuk which took me to another unknown place. I tried to find out where I was but no-one was at all helpful, maybe they couldn't read my map
I walked into town on a mission to buy a list of items (such as postcards) before I left the country. I was surprisingly successful, and even managed to get online for a little while. I bought some souvenirs, including a CD of Lao pop music to remind me of the bus, and had a nice big lunch in preparation for my epic bus journey (it wasn't a sleeper bus). When I got back to the station it was packed full of falang but I managed to retrieve my bag and reshuffle so as to fit in my new purchases before boarding the bus.
We got to the border an hour or so into the journey, and were given no instructions. The passengers were mostly local but there were still quite a lot of us falang, and we found our way to the counter, where they took our passports then demanded an extra pound's 'processing fee' before we were allowed to get it back. No choice really. We then spotted a modern looking building a hundred metres or so away, and figured it must be the Thai side, which indeed it was. It was another couple of hours' bus ride before we arrived into Ubon Ratachani, the nearest Thai town to the border. We got in about 6.30pm and a man grabbed me before I'd even got off the vehicle, took my bag and showed me to another bus, pointing vigourously to make sure I knew which Bangkok bus was mine - there must have been a few. It would depart at 7.30pm so in my hour I went and got some food.
It was just as I was finishing my meal that I realised I'd left a bag on the bus. Clearly not having learned from my India experience, I had been carrying two items of hang luggage, one of which I'd placed above me as it only contained my 'overnight' things and things I didn't immediately require, such as my eyemask and first aid kit. The information desk was extremely unhelpful but she did ring the driver who claimed the bag was definitely no longer there. I had to practically force them to take a scrawled note on a scrap of paper with my email address, something they seemed to find hilarious.
By this time it was time to go, and I found a seat on the top deck. I chose one row back from the front, as with no seatbelts on board I didn't like to think about the consequences of harsh braking (or worse). The seats reclined a little and I settled down for the night. I made a mental list of the contents of the missing bag, and this is when I realised that not only had I lost my eyemask, head torch, leggings and nail file, but in the bag had also been my (prescription designer) sunglasses, and, that's right, my camera. Thank god I'd taken the SD card out.