We purchased the tickets from Vientiane to Luang Prabang from our guesthouse yesterday evening, these VIP bus tickets cost 150 ,000 kip ( ~RM60) for a ( said to be) 8 hours journey. Being a VIP, you are entitled to : + snacks + toilet in the bus. Regular bus charges 110,000 kip and said to take 10 hours. (The tickets are cheaper if purchased directly from the bus station, but remember to factor in the cost for transportation to the station –might come to be the same lah)
That morning, at 7:40, a van came to pick us up at the guesthouse and I must say that the buses in Laos are prompt ! The double decker bus named ‘King of Bus’, left the station at exactly 8 a.m. Everyone on board were given a 0.5L bottle of water when we started the journey. The seats were comfortable but there weren’t that much of leg room. We passed small villages, markets, stretches of bushes, petrol stations – petrol prices : Regular 9020kip/L ( ~RM3.60) and Diesel 7460kip ( ~ RM3) but these varies…
About 1 hour into the journey, a woman approached the driver and I heard her said ‘toilet’. Driver mumbled something and a few minutes later, we stopped in the middle of nowhere ( that was what it appeared to me, see the pix below and you judge for yourself lah) and umm….those that need to ‘go’ , went searching for suitable sites to fertilize the Loatian soil… (btw, I don’t think the toilet in the bus works)
About 4 hours into the journey ( ~1 pm) the bus made it’s second stop. Ahh Lunch ( and toilet break) .
We surrendered a portion of our bus ticket to the shop as we ordered lunch ( choice of noodles or rice with dishes) , the idea of having piping hot noodles was very appealing .
My bowl of pho, which came with a bowl of ulam .
After lunch, as we traveled into Kasi province, the roads started to get windy , I rephrase that, the roads started to get very windy and it seemed to go on and on and on. Whiffs of unpleasantness reached my nostrils as the passenger sitting behind me start to empty his stomach…. But the scenery was breathtaking, mountains, valleys, and villages that are built a bit too close to the road.
After about 9.5 hours on the bus, we finally reach Luang Prabang bus station. We shared a Tuk2 with some of our fellow travelers and paid 10,000 kip/pax to get to the town centre. As we stepped down from the Tuk2, we were surrounded by a few guys carrying printout /pictures of the guesthouses that they were representing.We got to know a Vietnamese couple during our lunch stop and decide that we go guesthouse-hunting together.
We followed one of the ‘promoter’ to inspect the rooms of the guesthouse, looked ok, was at USD10/day, I was rather happy with the room ( 2 single beds, attached bathroom, hot shower, TV and free bananas) but as we were discussing amongst ourselves, a young guy came up to us and ask us to see his guesthouse which according to him is new and at priced at USD8/nite .Voila, the rooms were even better ( except there were no free bananas) –guesthouses lined both sides of the lane and we could do more hunting , but we were satisfied with what Oudomsouk Guesthouse had to offer
(Oudomsouk Guesthouse, Houxieng Rd , tel (856-71) 254863 , e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)
After a quick shower , we went for a walk (and to search for dinner too) , the Mekong was less than 5 minutes walk away from our guesthouse, we got there in time to view the sunset
There were a lot of food stalls along the bank of the Mekong, we decide to have a simple dinner, and I had chicken fried rice (15,000kip ~ RM6) while HC had pork fried rice, The ferocious mozzies were feeding on us as we feed on the rice, the meal was average , the rice was a bit too soggy for my liking but the fruit shakes were heavenly.
After our meal, we decide to walk to the night market. WOWww…so many stalls .. one of the guidebook described this as possibly the quietest pasar malam , I concur as the sellers never seemed to hassle the buyers, there weren’t loud music ( no illegal DVD or CD sellers) , overall a very peaceful market. Most of the items at the market seemed to be handmade and include : bags of various colours /sizes/patterns, bedspreads, runners, pretty paper lamps, t-shirts, jewellery, paintings etc etc…
The stalls were (mostly) manned by womenfolk of all ages : from wrinkled grandmas to girls of 9 or 10.
An artist at work..