Don’t get us wrong, we actually quite like bus journeys. Having taken over 70 bus trips in the last 7 months one learns how to enjoy the simple pleasures that can be found from a bus seat. Idly staring out a window watching the world trundle past and enjoying the downtime to catch up on some podcasts or a good book usually helps the time pass quickly and rather pleasantly, however this wasn’t the case for the bus trip between Luang Prabang and Vientiane… This was probably the worst bus journey so far…
It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what was bad about the journey, it was more a combination of factors than anything specific….
Being ripped off on the price of the ticket didn’t help… but it’s Asia, it happens!
Seat Broken, stuck in permanent recline with no free seats to move too…. well that’s quite agitating!
Being horrendously late (over 4 hours) leaving us to look for accommodation late at night on empty stomachs… yeah, getting pretty angry!
Bus company stealing my umbrella….. nail in the coffin, WORST JOURNEY EVER!
Having eventually found a room in in a popular backpackers, and a quick tasty meal in our stomachs we hit the hay and vowed not to let the journey taint our view of city…
Vientiane is possibly the smallest feeling capital city I’ve ever been to. Lying on the Mekong river you can see Thailand across the water but yet it feels a million miles away from Bangkok. The French colonial past is still evident here with grand and elaborate buildings dotted throughout the city with their official names written in french, and small cafes serving croissants and strong coffee. We walked along the Mekong river soaking it all in, occasionally stopping to watch locals have their pictures taken with statues of famous Lao figures, and explored some of the cities many temples.
While walking the city we made a visit to the COPE visitors centre, which is totally free and really worth a visit. COPE (“Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise”) provides support and rehabilitation for people who are recovering from injuries sustained from UXO (bombs) left over from previous years of conflict. After fundraising for the British charity MAG (Mines advisory group) it’s a subject close to my heart and the centre is a really dynamic and interesting way to learn about the problems faced by many communities in Laos. So good in fact Ryan bought a t-shirt! to find out more about the centre and what they do check out the website here.
There were many more things to see in Vientiane, like the famed Buddha park outside the city, which some say was the highlight of their trip, however due to us both feeling a little under the weather (self-inflicted for some, not for others) we decided to take a day off from the travelling life. Instead of going out and seeing the city, we instead stayed in our room watching movies and eating pork filled baguettes.
So with our batteries marginally recharged we headed into the countryside, down some very bumpy roads to a very long cave…