Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Savannakhet to Vientiane

Leaving Savannakhet
So far, on my epic journey, I have come across a lot of good luck. I had mentioned in previous posts that I was very lucky when it came to having my own rows in buses or planes, lucky for never getting sick, robbed, or jumped, as many fellow travelers around me did, hell, just plain lucky to be doing this trip in the first place. Well this week my luck hasn't changed a bit. When Joelee and I decided to go buy our bus tickets to Vientiane, it was a whole lot of hassle. The first counter girl we asked for prices rudely said "no bus today" then turned around to watch the t.v. We weren't even asking about buses for that day. So we walked to the next window to try our luck with ticket girl #2. This girl was at least as rude, and I had to let Joe do the talking so I didn't have to apply the ol strangle hold. As she was doing the talking, other rude locals would just walk straight up, nudge their way in front of her, and start talking over her. Making it even more frustrating was the fact that the ticket girl would stop paying attention to us, and help the louder customer, rolling her eyes at the annoying westerners. But, after me telling a guy to beat it, and fending off others, even to the point of getting a little pushy, and Joe doing the negotiating, we got our tickets.

Unfortunately the sleeper bus that we wanted was booked, so we had to take the dreaded sitting up bus for the 10 hour journey. To make matters worse, other travelers were constantly complaining about the cruddy roads in Laos, making our up coming, sitting up journey a dreadful thought. Before any of you start saying "so where does this supposedly good luck kick in", well I'm getting there.

The only ticket we could get had us leaving at 9:30 pm, which meant we either had to check out of our hotel at the regular time of noon and then hang around town all day with our luggage, or we could just leave around 8, and hope they wouldn't charge us for another night. Well, you guessed it, we took a gamble (my idea, not Joe's) and it paid off. when I went in to tell them we were leaving, and would like to pay for the night before, they didn't say a word about the very late check out. Next piece of luck kicks in as we disembark from the tuk tuk at the bus station and a guy checks our tickets. When we ask him what bus it was, he kinda just smirked as if to say "the one all rich foreigners take, stupid" and pointed to the right bus and said simply "VIP". VIP was right. We gazed in delight at the biggest bus that I've ever seen or ridden in. It was a two story, reclining seat, AC equipped, t.v wielding mega bus, easily twice the size of the sleepers we've ridden in. When we got on, we were also delighted to see that the chairs reclined so far back that it was almost flat. The only way this can work however, was for everyone to lay back, otherwise the person in front of them would be in their lap, which had this big boy a little nervous.

Luck struck again believe it or not, twice more. First thing was the seat situation. When everyone was getting situated and settled in their seats, I watched in cruel delight as the guy in front of me was struggling to get his to recline. After a while he finally gave up trying. Let me translate: The seat in front of me was the only one on the entire bus that would not recline, ironically giving the biggest dude on the bus the most room. Still not that lucky you say? Well add that to the fact that I was already sitting next to the beautiful, tiny, Joelee, that takes up no room, and well, you know what I'm saying. The second thing was when after only eight hours of travel, we were waken up and told that we were in Vientiane. We didn't feel one pot hole or hear even one blow of the horn, and the 10 hour journey was over inn 8. Now, sitting under the fan in my room at the Mixay guesthouse, I thank my lucky stars, and wonder what's next for a nomad in Laos. Maybe some river floating in Vang Vieng.

1 comment: