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I'm sorry, but did you say 24 hours??

Huay Xai to Vientienne

We were starting the final leg of our journey in Laos from Huay Xai to Vientienne where we would stay a couple of days before flying out to Thailand.

We knew it was going to be a long journey but as time was running out on our visa we did not have time to take the slow boat back to Luang Prabang and get a bus from there. Instead we opted to take the VIP bus which was faster than the local bus and also had air con and reclining seats, which would make the 18 hours more comfortable.

With pick up organised for 11am we headed into town to get some breakfast only to be stopped in the street by a man who said he was to drive us to the bus station and he had to take us now. Given it was 9am we were a bit confused but rushed back to pack our bags and jump in the back of the truck. The bus station was a couple of kms out of town but the one we stopped at was not the VIP one we had passed the day before.

Instead of a big VIP bus there was a smaller more dilapidated local bus. Normally we would not mind taking the local bus, infact we had only taken local transport so far in Laos but knowing it would take longer we were a bit concerned. We were just as bemused as the driver as he told us that there were no direct VIP buses to Vientienne despite what we had been told at the hotel. Several phone calls back to the hotel later it was established that the only way for us to now leave today would be on this bus and it would take 24 hours!! Very frustrating but what can you do!

We had over an hour to wait till we left so we went to a local stall for some breakfast and watched as bags, crates and bundles of all shapes and sizes were hauled up to the roof by a guy standing on the top. He looked weedy but was clearly really strong to be able to pull them up by rope on his own.

Soon it was time for us to find our seats. Now I should point out that the local bus never gets full...by that I don't mean that it's not busy, I mean completely the opposite...there is always room for one more! Once all the seats were taken, small plastic stools are pulled out and placed back to back down the aisle fitting in another 15 people on an already full bus! I was glad we had proper seats and we had a window and each other to lean against if we wanted to try and sleep.

At least we weren't going to be traveling like the cockerels that were being loaded into the hold below! And the 3 live ducks in the pink bag which were unceremoniously plonked in followed by some heavy car parts and other bits and pieces. Knowing how bendy the roads were going to be I wasn't sure they wouldn't be crushed by the other goods moving around in the hold during the journey. Animal transport does not seem to be a cause for concern out here.


Once you re on the bus the driver passes out plastic bags. We had been told about this by Dennis at dinner the night before, these bags are not for rubbish! We had experienced the twisting mountain pass roads already but it turns out that a lot of Laos people do not cope with this very well. True to form the first person started to be sick about 2 hours in to what turned out to be a 26 hour journey! Those being ill were as discreet as possible, using the bags and then chucking them out the windows, so you had to be careful if your window was open that nothing flew back in at you!

This was to be the sound track for our journey, fortunately iPods were charged and we could drown it out. We were also armed with motion sickness tablets and the tactic of trying to sleep through as much of the journey as possible.

The bus stopped for short periods several times along the way. At one stop at about 11pm we decided to brave getting some food. The lighting was a bit poor so we opted what looked like beef in some kinda sauce and rice. Once at a better lit table it was clear it wasn't beef, Dan thought it might be testicles but thought it was more likely kidneys but either way it wasn't very appetising so we just at the rice and found the rare treat of a Kit Kat!

There's not much more to say about this journey just that you had to grin and bare it! The longer the journey went on the more rubbish was on the floor, bits of food etc so you can imagine what state it was in after being crammed full of people of 26 hours.

Miraculously neither Dan or I were ill but we both didn't want to set foot back on a bus for a while and were glad we would be flying out of Vientienne!

I'll don't think I ll complain about the night bus in London again!


Posted by doyledan 21:23 Archived in Laos

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