We got on our bus at 7am from Kong Lor to Vientiane. It wasn't the best bus. It flew through the mountain roads toot, toot tootle tootle tooting it’s little horn as we rounded corners or passed through small villages, or passed people on the side of the road that might want a lift. We stopped about every 10 or 15 minutes to pick people up. We had the front seats at the top of the but you couldn't really see out because of the early morning dew which covered the entire window. And the big vinyl letters on the front, and the kid sitting on the floor seat in front of us vomiting the entire way… It was what I like to call a “cultural experience”.
|The Vientiane North Bus Terminal|
We got into the Capital city of Laos at about 2:30pm, and took a lovely soft car ride across the city to the north bus terminal, where we booked the front top seats on the VIP sleeper bus to Luang Prabang. We took the local bus downtown for about 75 cents. We were quite literally gobsmacked. Here we were, in a European city. There were big buildings and, real French food. Real cheese, real pastries. WOW! We realized that all the Wats and museums etc, close at 4pm sio we just went and ate in a lovely little restaurant, and got a delicious baguette with ham and real cheddar cheese to go to eat on the bus. We thought about cancelling our tickets and just staying here for the rest of the trip. We came across a cultural arts festival and stayed to watch the music and dancing and miming from Korea, Japan and Laos. They were great.
|The city came complete with an Eiffel Tower!|
|The trees you can see on the far side of this marsh and river is Thailand|
|Quick visit to one of the wats|
|The cultural arts performance. This one was by a deaf group.|
|A very European downtown, but with wide streets like LA|
We grabbed a tuk tuk back to the bus terminal and sorted our bags and got on our VIP sleeper bus. The driver tried to kick us out of the front seat, to sleep in the very back in the five across bed with three Japanese teenage boys, one of whom was dressed in a bunny suit, and one who wore big yellow fuzzy slippers over his striped green leggings. We declined the lovely offer.
There wasn't really a second floor like we had on the other bus, there was just one floor, and we had the upper bunk, which extended over the driver’s head. There was almost no visibility out the front window. Greg and I snuggled down, and wondered when he was going to turn off the bright florescent lights so we could sleep. There was no curtains on any bunk. Finally we pulled out of the station, and he turned out the lights.
Then the music started. The driver played stay awake music. He played it pretty loud. I was glad he was staying awake, laughing and chatting with his two conductors, and playing music. Loudly. We asked if they could turn it down a bit so we could have a chance of getting a little sleep. They turned it down… 5 decibels, and then snuck it back up louder than before. We decided to watch a movie.
Just before midnight, I decided I would need to use the bathroom at some point, so I might as well get it over with while it is still somewhat cleanish. The bathroom wasn't too dirty, but the smell was ungodly bad. Imagine the worst cat box you have ever had to change, and now put yourself in the tiniest closet with that box…
Five minutes after I used the bathroom, the bus pulled into a rest stop with clean bathrooms… They turned on every single light in the bus. Bright fluorescent rays bathed even the most well tucked away sleeper, and the conductor went through the bus announcing the stop just in case the bright light hadn't woken everyone. They made a couple more stops the same way that night.
I thought they would turn out the lights after the stop, but no such luck. We tried to sleep, I crawled in the back of the bus with the teddybear boys, but it smelled so strongly of detergent back there and the upholstery seemed slightly damp. I tried to close my eyes. Greg came back and said that they weren’t playing music. I went back to our bunk, pulled the blanket over, and closed my eyes. And the music began again. Finally, they turned off the music at about 4am and Greg and I managed to get a couple of hours sleep before pulling in to Luang Prabang.