Edit Blog Post
Published: February 15th 2018
Last night we spent Valentines evening in a very good Laotian restaurant Khop Chai Deo, the place was crammed but the service was quick efficient and tasted great , thoroughly recommended . We pack and breakfast in order to meet our 0930 pick up by Minivan for the 3 hour trip to Vang Vieng. We chose the minivan over the VIP bus as it is faster and better equipped and as per advice on Trip Advisor, the Bus is no better than a public bus and very slow. So for 15,000 kip each more, we thought worth the investment. (Total: £3)
By 10.00 hrs and no minibus we start to worry. We ask Hotel receptionist to call the Bus company, and are assured it is enroute so we sit back and enjoy the sunshine. By 10.15 there's still no bus so we get the reception to call again, to be told it's still on it's way. Paula is beginning to feel decidedly apprehensive, so after a further 15 minutes, asks for a third telephone call to be made. This time the Bus Company want to talk to us - to explain, "no minivan, all full, no drivers, you wait until
1pm maybe?, Answer is 'no', maybe we want refund?' Answer 'no'. Paula ends call saying we will walk to booking agent's office, which is only round the corner, a brief two minute walk away and discuss further. Fuming, we leave our heavy packs in Hotel lobby, and jog round to the the ticket office.
Several apologies and phone calls later we are collected by Tuk-Tuk back at our Hotel, and raced halfway around town to join an already full 52 seater tired old bus! The first passengers to board had been on the bus for 90 minutes and we don't want them to think it is our fault for the delay, so we try to explain our ordeal, only to be told by our fellow Japanese, Canadian, British and Australian passengers that they also paid for the more expensive minivan option. It would seem this operator either had a massive minibus problem or it's a scam. Anyway, an hour later than scheduled, we're off!
On leaving, we expect to get to Vang Vieng in around 3 hours, being a mere 90 miles away. 4 hours 30 minutes later ( incl a 30 minute stop for lunch and a
5 Minute stop because we hit something ) we arrive at the local Bus Station, knowing that we were within a ten minute walk from our hotel, but directions unknown. As is usual, those willing TukTuk drivers are ready to scoop up all arrivals, (including the two French Lesbians who had been fondling each other throughout the journey) and for £1.00 pp and a five minute ride later, we are at our hotel, Bon Voyage Ladies, and it's ideal, right on the river Nam Song with a glorious backdrop of hill and mountains beautiful.
We unpack and decide to explore the river. We had been warned by Leo's daughter that it had become a bit of a back packer's Magalluf, but as it's still relatively early, we see little of that. Although fairly wide, the river is very shallow in places, and heavy trucks still use a ford close to our hotel. Lighter vehicles and pedestrians can cross by several rickety wooden structures, these are an adventure in themselves.
We have already decided to Kayak whilst here, but think it will be fun to take an evening long tailboat ride. We are quoted the going rate of $10
for a 30 minute trip. These guys must be the richest people in the region! On principle we refuse, and decide to hire bikes for exploration in the morning at only $1.50 per day. Now starving hungry, we google Restaurants on Trip Advisor and with the aid of a simple map, manage to take over half an hour to find an Irish Bar who serve delicious, but cheap Westernised food.
Eventually, we are fed and watered and vow to be more adventurous tomorrow evening, when we will try Barbeque, Laos style! We have noted that although it's Chinese New Year tonight, there's very little in the way of celebrations. A few fireworks, and half a dozen paper lanterns drifting in the air, nothing to get excited about really. Four years ago, when in Ayutthaya, Thailand, there were great celebrations, quite a contrast. Nightcap and blog at hotel terrace, overlooking river, music drifting across from the other side and local fishermen wading through the river trailing nets, very atmospheric. We have a feeling we will enjoy this region.
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