Let's do that again! Or not...

Trip Start Feb 06, 2005
Trip End Jul 2005

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Saturday, March 5, 2005

We were talking about how the travelogue's been getting stale, and were thinking about how we could spice it up. Drawing inspiration from tv we planned a wedding, then a funeral, then just opted for the border crossing from HELL!!!! (see, we know how to get ratings- it's all about exclamation points).
To put it bluntly, the bus trip between Hanoi and Vientianne is a tad dodgy...
We waved goodbye to our Halong Bay crew and jumped on a bus in Hanoi at 6:30pm. After a painful (the seats didn't recline dammit- but oh what we would have given for that particular bus later on! Imagination fails at what we would have given for one with reclining seats) coach ride we were dropped off in the middle of nowhere at 1:30am. This particular middle of nowhere had the usual noodle truck stop and baguette stand, and three very acceptable-looking coaches stood promisingly by. First one, then two, then three buses buggered off, leaving us standing under the orange glow of the street lights while the locals tried it on with the girls in our group of forgotten tourist debris.
Finally at 4am a minibus that looked like it had been around during the war (and had gotten hit a few times) rocked up and drove us about (no kidding) 200 metres. There it stopped. And stayed stopped until 5am, when it began moving... for 50 metres, where it stopped again until 6am. The locals were surprisingly staunch, and their eternal cheerfulness proved extraordinarily resilient, to the continuous abuse the four Americans in our group of 9 rained on them. Maybe they were just having childhood flashbacks. Or maybe they were planning to just leave us in the middle of nowhere. Probably the latter, in hindsight. At 6am we finlly set off over the one giant pothole that is the road to Laos.
We were switched to another bus along the way and, at about 8:30am were dropped off at the border. We made our way through the checkpoints (you walk a very muddy kilometer between them) and found... nothing. No one to pick us up. On no sleep, organising your own travel in the wild west-like eastern Laos is a great prospect.
We found a tuktuk, squeezed all nine of us in (and our packs!) and paid too much to get to the nearest one-horse town, where we proceeded to Vientiane by a succession of local buses. By 7:30pm we got there, found a room, then a bar and tried to have a beer for every bus we had been on (8). Disappointed that we had, for once, failed as ambassadors to our great beer-swilling nation, we succumbed to exhaustion and hit the sack.
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