The quietest capital city in the world
Trip Start May 20, 2010
195Trip End Sep 05, 2011
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Where I stayed
Day : 171
Temperature : 30 degrees daytime, 26 degrees night time
Weather : Sunny
First of all, apologies for no photographs on this entry. I am not quite sure what happened. I think we were walking around Vientiane in a sleep deprived daze. We also spent much of the day getting some important things organised…..like changing our flights to New Zealand, and booking some flights to Phuket!! He-he!
Let me bring you up to date on what's been happening over the past couple of days. We left Tat Lo after spending one night there. We caught the local bus back to Pakse, haggled with a tuk-tuk driver to take us into town where we booked our sleeper bus to Vientiane. We spent the afternoon in a café on the internet updating the blogs and, well, not doing very much really.
Our sleeper bus left Pakse at 8pm. We were delighted to find that there were actually "beds" on this bus. Much like the beds you find on sleeper trains. There was even a steward on the bus who gave us water and cake, and little packets of wet wipes. Our delight quickly faded when we realised that the beds were obviously made for people who were about 5 foot 5 and under. There were partitions dividing the foot of one bed and the head of the bed of the row in front. This meant that it was impossible to hang your feet over the bottom of the bed. Fortunately, I was able to lie with my legs straight, but my head was touching the head board and my feet were flat on the partition at the bottom of the bed. Poor Kevin had to lie with his knees bent up. Because both of the beds put together were narrower than one single bed back home, there was no opportunity to lie on your side with your knees bent. There was simply no room.
After 9 restless hours on the bus we arrived in Vientiane at 5am, just as it was getting light. By 6am we were dropped off in the city centre by a tuk-tuk. All the guest houses were locked up. All the cafes were shut until 7.30am. There was not a car, motorbike or person in sight. The only action going on in this capital city was the doves that were cooing and circling the temples overhead. We randomly bumped into some other westerners who had been on our overnight bus with us. They were also aimlessly wandering around. There was nothing else that could be done other than offload the backpacks, sit down and wait for the city to wake up.
Eventually, there were signs of life as cafes opened their shutter doors. We found a bakery and sat down to the most delicious breakfast…warm croissants and jam, fruit salad, tea and coffee. We haven’t had croissants for months. We greedily devoured every crumb then set off to find a guesthouse that was open, and that had vacancies. Easier said than done in this city.
After another hour or so we had successfully found ourselves a windowless room in a crumbly old guesthouse, with a shabby bathroom, a rock hard bed and a high probability of bed bugs. We were too tired to care less. After a couple of hours dozing we were forced to get up due to the pressure sores that were developing on our bodies. We wandered out to see some of the sights of Vientiane, but we’d forgotten that it was Sunday. Virtually everything was shut. There were by now a handful of vehicles on the road, and the odd dog or cat wandering the streets, but with not much else to do we decided to take a look at our travel plans.
Our flights to New Zealand were at the end of November. We wanted to spend a week on the beach before going there, but our flights were a whole month away. By the time we completed our Lao section we would have three weeks available…that was far too long to waste sitting on a beach. Now, I know you guys might think that’s crazy, but really, three weeks on a beach doing nothing? We’d go insane. Perhaps we could change our Emirates flights to New Zealand….Emirates you ask? Yes, we are not with flying some dodgy, black listed, uncomfortable, budget airline. By luck, Emirates was the cheapest we could find. So you guys can visualise us stretching out in our seats with extra leg room, sipping on another glass of wine and having our pillows fluffed up by the cabin crew (ok not the pillow bit…but you get the idea!). We phoned up the Emirates help desk to enquire about changing our flights. Yes, there was a flight going out two weeks earlier, and yes there were seats available. Ok, how much would it cost? Free of charge? Bargain!!! We will go ahead and change it please. Thank you very much. Job done.
We now had to work out where exactly we would spend our week on the beach, and, how we would get there. We looked at crossing from Laos into Thailand from the north, and getting the train down to Bangkok and then train again to Krabi. But this would probably take 5 days, including 2 days on the boat from Vientiane to Huay Xai at the border. Did we want to spend 2 days on a boat? Moreover, the trains were about 15 to 20 UK pounds each, per section, and we would probably need to spend a day in Bangkok , and cities are always expensive. So we started looking at flights. It was a ridiculous £200 each to fly anywhere from Laos. So that option was out of the question. Perhaps the quickest way to the beach would be to cross into Thailand from Vientiane, and then get the train from Udon Thani to Bangkok. After a day in Bangkok we could then travel from Bangkok to Krabi. However, we discovered by chance that there was an airport at Udon Thani, and that Air Asia fly there. This sounded promising. We checked the Air Asia route map and low and behold, they fly directly to Phuket for under £50 per person. This was by far the cheapest way to get to the beach, and the quickest. We could then take the bus from Phuket to Krabi where we would have 7 lovely days in the sun. Ten minutes later, our flights were booked. Yay!
All that needed to be done after this was get our bus tickets booked to Luang Prabang…..