Back in Vientiane, heading to Bangkok

Trip Start Sep 24, 2006
Trip End Sep 01, 2007

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Where I stayed
Douang Deuane Hotel

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Took a 9 hour bus trip yesterday from Luang Prabang through Vang Vieng and then arrived back in Vientiane (LP and Vientiane are both on the banks of the Mekong).  It was a trip from ____ through extremely 'mountainous' land, again past and through small hill tribe villages (ie Hmong) in a 'VIP' bus completely full with tourists as well as locals. The bus driver was of the racecar driver wannabe genre and took corners at full speed, doing switchbacks through the mountains like we were on the INDY 500. The smell and sounds of people being sick was something like out of a horror movie. One guy kept himself in the dirty disgusting toilet and then when people wanted to use it there was a big commotion and people yelled at the driver to stop.  So we stopped, people were sick (my Lao seatmate for one) when finally outside and since there had been no bathroom break for the 5 hours by this time trip, people just went on the side of the road (which happened on the trip from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang as well, practically a riot demanding the driver to stop, as there was NO toilet at all on that bus).  Very strange. I could see the driver's face in the mirror above his head and he was smiling the whole way, thinking it was funny and perhaps counting the number sick in some form of competition with other drivers.  The VV to LP trek was the same - careening around corners, full blast through tiny hill villages, honking behind kids on bicycles who were cycling home from school.  FOrtunately, I don't get car sick, but the woman behind me did and the smell and sound just about put me over the edge..
ANyway, ended up here and Sven from Martin's Bar was here on business and he and his wife had been helping me talk to the Village Chief so he and I met for a drink at the Khop Chai Deu bar frequented by ex-pats (mainly NGOs and contractors) living here. My seatmate on the bus, Sombath Kyophilavong, fluent in Japanese and English and who had been guiding a group of Japanese tourists around LP, when he learned of my theft, immediately on the bus cell phoned his friend, a tourist police officer in Vientiane.  I wanted a police report to document the theft for posterity and also in case I can get some insurance (fat chance). Anyway his friend was at a meeting this a.m. when I went to the Tourist Police office but I wrote out a report through another officer and got that job done, which is why I wanted to stay overnight here (also I couldn't have taken another journey after the hot dusty dirty smelly one of yesterday. Fortunately I could stay at the Douang Deuane Hotel that I stayed in before which is really nice and for $15.  I am now preparing to grab my bags for the 13 hour bus trip to Bangkok, leaving at 5 p.m.,; apparently we stop at Nong Khiaw in Thailand for dinner.  The 9 hour trip yesterday included lunch Lao style but I was not hungry after listening to all the sick people, and tonight's dinner is included, plus coffee tomorrow a.m. and the total for both trips (22 hours, 2 meals) is $35 US and I don't need a hotel room for tonight.  So travel is sure cheap here. I have tried calling the Bangkok Christian Brothers Guesthouse to reserve a room (we arrive at the infamous Khao San Road and I don't want to stay there, it is backpacker's cheap haven) and unfortunately there is no Sky Train or Metro to Silom Road area where I like to stay, so don't quite know how I get from Khao San Road (I could take the river ferry and then the Skytrain but that is quite a hike to the ferry and it will be 6 a.m.) ANyway the phone lines to Thailand are not working today, apparently a regular occurrence, so I have sent an email to the Guesthouse and hope they have room.
Just heard from brother Brian and Carolyn and they are on Ko Chang so I may join them there or Ko Samet. I have some stuff to do in Bangkok (ie get a new camera and a recharger for cell phone and get my photos! developed from the CDs etc.) so may join them the 25th somewhere. It is easy to get around Thailand, several bus and train options, but I hope not complete with Lao style free thrills and spills.... 
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