Home > Southeast Asia Trip, Uncategorized > Ohh Shiii, Ohh Shiiiiiiii

Ohh Shiii, Ohh Shiiiiiiii

First off let me say i’ve had a change of mind…. The bus to Hanoi was not the worst busride of my life….The bus to Laos was…. After reading a Lonely Planet guidebook, I realize we got suckered into a scam (that wasn’t really a scam).  You see we pruchased our $23 bus tickets to Laos from this pretty Vietnamese travel agent in Hanoi… She insisted the bus ride was close to 12 hrs.  We read the lonely planet and even asked our hotel owner how long it took and both said between 20-24 hrs.  So when we confronted her about it she insided we would arrive in 12 hrs.  Being the optimistic blokes we are, we decided she was so nice we’d believe her.

First signs of trouble was the moto ride.  We didn’t get picked up by a bus, but a shady moto-driver.  He drove like a nutcase (I was constantly bracking myself with my backpack in case of collision) througout Hanoi.  He drove us one at a time, holding our big bags between his legs.  He eventually dropped us off at an ALLEYWAY on a main street (not a travel agent).  Here we bumped into a group of 3 english blokes, and 2 english girls who were going on the same bus as us.  We were all soon picked up by a shuttle bus to take us to the bus station.  Here the english people got their tickets confiscated so had to be issued new ones.  A different shady dude appeared to guide us all to the bus/  This bus proved hell.  Basically there was a group of 10 western tourists who showed for the ride, and the rest were locals… Ohh, I should mention the fact we were promised tickets to LUANG PRABANG (the city closer to Vietnam), but upon bording were told we were being driven to VIENTIANE (city closer to Thailand). So the bus had a bunch of construction piping in the walkway.  All westerners were pushed to the back of the bus where we were told our bags where to be dropped in the center of the isle.  My seat (very back) held a mere 10 inched of legroom, due to the fact a giant container of liquid was in my footrest area.  My seat didn’t recline.  The driver had rougly 10 near head-on-collisions before I could look no more.  I eventually doze a bit, but really didn’t get no sleep.  We stopped a bunch before 04:00 in the morning where we parked the bus.  We were told be border didn’t open until 07:00, so some people paid 10,000 dong and got a guesthouse for 3 hrs (unecessary in my eyes) while the rest of us caught some zzz’s on the bus (me probably 2 hrs).  In the morning we got going at 07:45.  We drove the mountainside, where the busdriver acted very freaky and laughed his ass off while driving like a nutter through these narrow mountain roads.  The border turned out to be a mess.  No guidance whatsoever, we had to pay a departure fee to Vietnam before leaving the country.  We then had to walk roughly 500m acrross the border to reach the Laos.  Laos charges various amounts for 30 day Visa’s according to countries.  Canada is one of the more expensive countries costing $42 + a $2 weekend fee.  We burst out (to all our Abby friends who know the inside joke: Ohhhh shiiiiiiii, ohhh shiiii)  Once accross we immediately noticed a change in attitude of the people.  The Laos people always seemed to be outgoing and happy.

We eventually reached the Laos capital of Vientiane at 01:00.  All 10 westerners bartered down a Jumbo (giant Tuk-Tuk) to drive us to the city center, where we all departed.  we were tunned to see within the past year, the prices nearly doubled from that printed in the latest lonely planet guidebook.  We were also schocked to discover Vientiane sold out rooms rather fast.  So we were eventually scrambling to get a room before all were booked up.  We eventually settled on the Riverside Hotel for $12 a night.  The first night here we were basically tired from the busride from hell, which we got basically no sleep on.  We went out for dinner, nabbign some traditional Laos food (really spicey).  I had some Papaya salad (suprisingly spicey), chicken, and amazing stickey rice.  We also downed some 11,000 kip Beerlaos.  640ml of greatness.  On the way back to the hotel we were shown the sad part of Laos.  We thought it was largely untouched by tourism, but we soon discovered the city was crawling with prostitutes for dirty old western sex tourists.  Aside from that we were offered Hash, Opium and cocaine all occuring in the 200 meters to our hotel room.

The next day we were in a rush to get our trip organized.  We started out the morning with a $3 Laos version of Starbucks.  We then decided against another 24 hr busride, and went with a $120 plane ticket to fly to Chiang Mai (Thailand) on August 2nd.  The fact it is with the worst most dangerous airline (Laos Airlines) and is a TURBOPROP plane (both our firsts) didn’t scare us.   We then went in search of the central bus station where we hung out for the bit and saw some beautiful local girls, who gave me a few smiles when I gave them a wink.  We then decided to follow a lonly planet city tour via bikes we rented which took us a total of 20 mins.  We then basically tried to kill time before relaxing in our hotel. 

For dinner we went to a local joint on the main drag, where he had $2 falafels (and really cheap beerlaos).  We then walked the riverside, and realzed with some more BeerLao from the Bars there.  The pisser turned out to be the Mekong River, which was quite the exerience.

This morning (the 28th) we  caught a local bus to Vang Vienne for 30,000 kip.  We always joked about travelling in Southeast asia with livestock, but this proved to be the real livestock experience.  A bunch of local market-folk were transporting their stocks on this bus, and we were shocked to see a wrapped up (but still alive) pig being slide off the top of the roof at one of our stope (pig snot running down the bus window).  The busride itself passed some spectacular scenery, mountains and jungles along with waterfalls.  The ride encded up being 4.5 hrs. 

Once arriving in Vang Viene we soon took up the cheapest hotel we had come across yet: $3.50 for the night… Aside from the no-pressure, gravity-flush toilet, it wasn’t too bad.  We booked a trekking tour for tommorrow (29th) for 100,000 kip, and booked our bus up to Luang Prabang for the same price.  We then decided to head to the highlight of the city: tubibg down the river.  A tuk-tuk drives you 3.5 km’s up the river and immediately drops you at a bar, so we cracked the brews right from the start.  It’s a weird scene, almost 99% westerners… almost all either Hippies or frat boys.  It seemed like kind of a let down.  It was like spring break, which is all fun and an amazing time, but just not something we expected along this quiet riverside town.  You can zipline into the river at each bar and they have locals throwing out lines to reel you in.  So we stopped at roughly 4 bars on our way back down the river. our favorite was the first bar where we were given free shots of Lao Lao (a local whiskey) upong beaching our tubes.  It was nice and relaxing tubing alongside the mountains with a cold beer in hand.  Although it was quite dangerous.  I wa a little buzzed by the end, and I could only imagine the trouble navigating (and staying afloat) if I went all out.

Until next time

-Ben

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