Back on the road again
Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
284Trip End Ongoing
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Tickets safely secured we packed up our things and warned Kim and Lars that it was really busy and they would need to get a move on if they were to get on the bus. Checked out and gave them a little extra for losing the key. I don't think the girl at reception even remembered about the key as she tried to charge us for laundry we never got done!
Still had a while before the bus went so decided to get some breakfast. Dumped our bags on the bus first, but not in the hold, all the bags went on the roof!
It was going to be a long ride so we stocked up on supplies before heading to the Panda. If the French taught the Laos people only 1 thing then it is how to make good bread. The baguettes in Laos were fantastic! In China they had no idea and always covered it in sugar! Disgusting.
Got on the bus and someone was sitting in my seat. I stood around for about 10 minutes until he finally moved and I could sit down. As with China this bus wasn't going to leave until it was full, and this bus was packed to the rafters. Every seat was taken and so many more people wanted to go that they ended up putting a row of tiny plastic stools down the aisle for them to sit on! This wasn't going to be a short trip by any means so sitting on a stool all the way would have been torture! The bus was headed to Vientianne which was 20 hours away! Thankfully we were only going as far as Luang Prabang, a mere 8 hours journey.
Lets just say that it wasn't the most comfortable journey I have ever experienced. Although the road was surprisingly good, it was a long, tedious ride that snaked its way back and forth around the mountains. Views were pretty good though and we passed by loads of hill tribes along the way and swarms of inquisitive children ran to the bus every time we stopped, which was often.
8 hours came and went and we were only as far as Pak Mong, only half way. From here though I imagined the road was pretty good so it wouldn't take long. However we stopped for what seemed an eternity before it dawned on us what was about to happen. There was a sudden cry of "Luang Prabang" from the roof so we all had to get off and remove our bags. Still 150km's away and we were getting loaded onto the back of a sangthaew! Fantastic! To make matters worse it started to rain.
It was so packed that there were people sitting on the floor and Dave had to hang out the back the entire journey! Still wasn't enough people for the driver and we soon had 4 locals standing, holding onto the back as we sped along at 60km/hour.
Reached a police checkpoint and they didn't like it. Apparently 2 standing is fine but 4 is a no-no, so they had to shuffle down inside the car. It was ridiculously cramped so I was glad when they got off.
It started to rain really heavily as we neared Luang Prabang and our driver pulled over for some reason. He then tried to start loading our bags in the back with us to stop them getting wet! We just laughed and made it clear to him that there was no room and to keep driving.
Finally pulled into the south bus station at 7pm, in total darkness and rain. Tried to bargain with one tuk-tuk driver but he wanted 10,000 kip for the short journey and wouldn't take less. We waved him off and got in the next one for 5,000 with no questions asked.
Lars had been here only 9 months earlier so he sort of knew where he was going. Managed to locate the same hotel and the owner kicked his son out the room so we could have it!
Room secured we went in search of some food. Found a Nazim's (its a bit of a phenomenon in Laos and there are 6 of them around the country, 2 in Luang Prabang) and gorged ourselves on the best Indian food I have had. Far better than Luang Nam Tha, and Mr Nazim made sure we had everything we wanted. We ate loads and I have no doubt we will eat there again!
Went to find a bar called The Hive but before we reached it we went to a smaller bar and drank a couple of "beer bombs". Half a pint of Beer Lao, Lao Lao (local rice wine, foul!), M150 (industrial strength Red Bull) and 7up. Surprisingly tasty and managed to mask the taste of the Lao Lao quite well.
The Hive was a pretty nice bar and had quite expensive drinks so we went for the 2 for 1 cocktails. Everywhere in Luang Prabang seems to close by 10:30 so we headed back to the hotel.