Monday, 27 July 2009

Laos - Vientiane - Luang Prabang

I've been on my fair share of long bus rides (like this one - here) but these two back to back rides are right up there with the All Stars.

A minibus picked us up at our hotel in Hanoi at 5pm and dropped us at the bus station for our " 20 hour VIP sleeping bus" to Vientiane which eventually left 3.5 hours later. It was comfortable enough until it stopped 15 minutes later and another 10 locals were squeezed in sitting on the aisle. It's fairly common in these parts for the driver to make some extra cash by carrying passengers off the books, under the table or in this case on the floor.

We were lucky there was a toilet on the bus but to get to it you had to summon the conductor to unlock it and then tip toe around the bodies stretched out on the floor before you reached the piss puddle - yes that's right there was a good 2 inches of urine on the floor and the bus had a no shoe policy - just lovely!

We arrived at the border at 6am and waited an hour for it to open before crossing into Laos. At 5pm (24 hours after we set out) we finally arrived in Vientiane where we jumped in a pickup truck which would bring us to the centre via an ATM as nobody had local currency (Kips). After 3 ATMs refused to give money finally the fourth seemed to cooperate but then the unthinkable happened. The frikkin' machine swallowed my card and no cash came out - SHITE!!!!!!

Vientiane, Laos

I changed the last of my u$d which just enough for a room and a meal for the night. It would take another 24 hours and 3 trips (1 hour round trip) to the banks head office before I would retrieve my card and get refunded for a phantom withdrawal.

With no rest for the wicked we jumped on another 10 hour overnight bus north to Luang Prabang. Once again the locals sang the vomit national anthem all the way. I feel bad for them as I presume they are more prone to motion sickness but when we hit a bump and the over spill from a bucket landed on my ankle my tolerance level was being tested severely. A few unfortunate people who left their bags on the floor got a new coat of puke paint as the rivers of bile meandered along the floor of the bus.

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang itself is a beautiful spot and we recovered from the puke extravaganza eventually but decided with conviction, we would fly to our next destination.

Click on map to enlarge

Tags: ..Laos - Vientiane - Luang Prabang..

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Baino July 27, 2009 6:45 am  

See! That's why I want a week at the George V in Paris. No wee, no sick. I know Asia is beautiful but way rough for me. I've been to a few South East Asian countries (actualy, technically I live in one) but . .pooing in a hole and Bali Belly . . nah . .clean sheets and a flushing loo please.

Nomadic Matt July 27, 2009 6:45 pm  

I love Laos. It's beautiful!

Quickroute July 27, 2009 11:25 pm  

@ Baino: I hear ya - that a lot to be said for a little pampering!

@ Matt: Yeah it's a beautiful spot and not on the main tourist drag which is nice

nick July 28, 2009 4:52 am  

I have to agree with Baino - I don't like roughing it! I admire your resilience putting up with such dire conditions to reach those breathtakingly beautiful places. You're a pretty hardy soul.

Thriftcriminal July 28, 2009 6:55 am  

yeah, I remember a "luxury air conditioned bus" journey from Agra to Jaipur because the trains were AWOL due to a gauge change. Aircon consisted of windows that opened. Just as well given the amount of burping the bloke beside the driver was doing. Still, what do you expect for 80 rupees?

Quickroute July 28, 2009 8:21 am  

@ Nick: I sort of ignore it knowing something better is round the corner

@ Thrifty: I did a similar one from Delhi to Agra - luxury indeed - I think the fact that it got there was the luxury

King of New York Hacks July 28, 2009 5:31 pm  

Great shots, can a NYC cab make it up there ?? LMAO

Quickroute July 28, 2009 10:58 pm  

@ King: an NYC cab would be luxury travel for these parts - might be bad for your suspension on the dirt roads though

Quickroute July 29, 2009 10:07 pm  

@nAnil: Yeah good marketing campaign for sure

VE July 30, 2009 11:47 am  

Damn just keep racking up the countries...

Quickroute July 30, 2009 12:16 pm  

@ VE: It's a hazard of the job - sorry!

TCL August 07, 2009 12:40 am  

I feel you. But if I boot anywhere it would all be self-inflicted by non-stop caipirinhas in Rio.

Quickroute August 07, 2009 3:57 am  

@TCL: Sugar cane and lime vomit - lovely thought

Anonymous,  September 09, 2009 11:56 am  


Can you provide me with more info regarding the night bus from Vientiane to Luang Prabang?

Thanks a lot.

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