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Published: April 19th 2019
I won't write a blog for every single place I visited in Laos, because there's not much to say and not much I've seen. It could be just bad luck and the drama that came with it, but I didn't find it a very interesting country.
First of all, I felt ripped off the very first day I arrived. When we took the bus bus from Chiang Mai to the border, we had to get a tuk tuk to the actual border, because the bus wasn't going there. Then at the border you have to take a bus to cross the bridge. There is no other option and you're not allowed to walk. On the other side, the dollars we used were too old or something, so we had to pay in another currency which costed us converted $10 more. Then we had to take a tuk tuk to the bus station, where we had to wait for the sleepers bus. Nico made a comment on how this bus reminded him of the Harry Potter knight bus. It was really funny of him to mention it and this one actually looked like it! There were beds inside that had the
size of a single bed, but were shared by 2 people. I was happy I was traveling with Nico so I was sharing it with him and not a complete stranger.
The next morning we arrived in Luang Prabang. Of course not in the center and again we had to take a tuk tuk to the centre. Every time I say "had to", I know there's a possibility to walk. But really, walking for 5-10 km with a backpack under the burning sun isn't really a nice option.
We arrived super early, so we couldn't check in at the hostel. We were able to leave the bags and pay a very small amount of money to join their breakfast, which was really nice! During the breakfast I searched for things to do in the area. I found out that the only interesting things were a few waterfalls and they were not on a walking distance. I decided I would be able to go visit one that same day and leave the next. Nico told me he wanted to go to the waterfalls too, so after breakfast we checked in, I took a shower and when I got out, he
was sleeping. It was still early, so I spent some time writing. Eventually it got later and I decided to go on my own. When I was ready to leave, Nico woke up and asked me to wait for him. We walked towards the center and spoke to a guy who offered to drive us. First for 200 Kip each and when we walked away it got until 50 Kip each. That's more or less 5 euro and they would take you there, wait and take you back, so I thought it was ok, but Nico wasn't convinced and told me he was sure he saw it for 35 Kip pp somewhere. We walked and searched, but we couldn't find it anywhere. In the meantime it got late and he said we should go back to the hostel because there for sure they sold it for the cheaper price. He was right. At the hotel it was sold for 35 each (about 3,50 euro) but the last bus left at 13:30 and it was 14:00 already. "I guess I'll go tomorrow then" he said. I didn't say anything but inside I was very mad. I wasn't gonna stay an extra
day just for a few waterfalls, so basically I wouldn't see anything in Luang Prabang. I didn't want to be upset though, so I met up with some people from Couchsurfing and it made my day good again.
The next day I left towards Vientiane. It was a really nice drive through the mountains and mountain villages, where you see the different lifestyle the people have there. It seemed like they were very self-sustainable. A lot of families sit in front of their houses, making things by hand. Such as: baskets of straw, wooden furniture and construction materials to build houses. They also grow mainly rice in the area, but also other things. Most of the houses were built towards the valley and on the other side of the road (against the mountain) they have little gardens with veggies and spices.
Later that day I arrived at Vientiane. I really didn't feel like taking another tuk tuk, so I walked to my Couchsurfers' home. It was further then I thought and I arrived, soaked in sweat. Not a very nice way to meet someone haha! Martin was very nice. He gave me some food and we talked a bit
before going to sleep.
I stayed in Vientiane for a few days, so I could work on my blog and calm down a little from traveling. Martin had to work during the daytime and Vientiane also didn't seem to have much to offer. I could use his bike and one day I went for a ride along the river. On the other side of the river you could see Thailand. It was super nice to drive a bicycle, I kind of missed it. I just kept going until the road stopped and then I turned back. On the road I heard people saying "Hello somebody" all the time and I didn't really understood why they would say that. Later, Martin explained that Hello in Lao is "Sabaidi", so thát's what they were saying of course!
In the evenings, Martin and I could spend some time together. We went to the park for frisbee and we also cooked together. I made some pumpkin soup and he made delicious chocolate mousse.
In Vientiane I met Derrick through couchsurfing to go hitchhiking. We started in the center from Vientiane and a lot of cars stopped to ask if they could drop
us off at the bus station. Eventually someone stopped and brought us to a junction about 10 km away from the city. It didn't take long before some guys stopped and took us to Paksan. They even stopped somewhere to get beer for everyone. Yes, even the driver, but it seemed like it was his first beer, so I wasn't too worried. They seemed like either rich kids (with rich parents) or drug dealers. They had so much gold around their neck and on their fingers. Some scary looking tattoos too, so I almost would guess the second one. Anyway they were super nice to us and dropped us off in the center of Paksan.
We got another ride a bit further. The man said he would go to Pakse (all the way down south, where we wanted to go) but that he had to stop somewhere. His english wasn't very good, but we were excited to get a ride all the way to the south. We arrived just outside the center and he got out. His (I think) wife then opened the doors and told us to get out. We didn't really get it but we got out anyway.
Then she got a calculator to type a ridiculous amount of money and told us that that's what we had to pay if we wanted to get to Paksan. The guy didn't come back and the woman was so horrible to us that we just took our stuff and stand at the street again. She got a chair and sat in front of the car to watch and laugh at us. It was so weird and above all super rude. We walked a bit further up the road to be out of her sight. We noticed we stood in front of a restaurant and decided to have some food first. The woman in the restaurant we super nice. She put a chair outside so the cardboard with the name of the city could stay outside and visible for the drivers. I didn't think anyone would stop for that, but it was a nice gesture. After our dinner, we got out on the the road again. When it got really late we first tried to crash at a petrol station, but they kicked us off the terrain. The same happened at a mall. Then Derrick said we best just look for
a guesthouse. We found one eventually and luckily it wasn't expensive. Probably because we weren't anywhere near a touristic area. The bed was made out of tiles and the toilet was a hole in the floor...
We survived the night and tried to hitchhike again the very next day. We stood there for a few hours without any luck. When a bus stopped for us that was going to Thakhek (halfway on our route) we just got in. I was disappointed that it didn't work. But this wasn't the worst part still.
We got out at the bus station in Thakhek and I was out of cash. I took my bank card from my well hidden spot for it. Then we found out that the ATM at the station didn't work. We went to the center (that was about 30 minutes away). We dragged our bags with us and tried getting a ride to the south during our way there. Of course nobody stopped and when we finally reached the center I couldn't find my wallet with my card in it. I freaked out and ran back to the station. I couldn't see it anywhere and the officials at
the station just looked stupid at me and didn't understand or even tried to help me. I bursted out in tears in the middle of the station. I felt everyone's eyes on me, but I couldn't help it. Except my card there was no money or anything else in it. I have all my important things hidden away. I did lose my passport photos that I need for the border crossings. There was also a picture of Pien (my niece) and the wallet itself was a present that one of my best friends had given to me for my birthday last year. I felt actually mostly sad for this. I really liked this wallet so much!
When I finally calmed down, Derrick told me not to worry. He knew I could stay with someone in Siem Reap so he told me he would help me crossing the border and get there. That was so nice of him.
So there we went, on our way to Siem Reap. We skipped 1000 islands in the south of Laos, so in the end I didn't really see much of the country and by what I've seen I wasn't really impressed.
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