19/12/2008 – Last day in Laos

spicy laos luang prabang

For the past week I’ve been sharing my dorm with Nikkers, a lovely Aussie girl who has a silly self-deprecating sense of humour which I like. We got on really well. It was only after about 5 days of living together, which is essentially what you are doing in a hostel, did we realise that not only were we both getting the night bus to Vientiane on Friday night but we were also getting the same flight to KL. To further add to this coincidence, I found out that she lives in Coloundra, which is about 20 minutes away from Maroochydore and she was heading home the same time as I was going to Uncle David`s.

On my last day, I did a few chores around the hostel, welcoming new people, showing them around etc and enjoyed my last meal with Pong and the family. I am really going to miss the sticky rice. The conversations at lunchtime were always interesting, mainly because I had no idea what anyone said but could pick out the farang instantly and knew they were talking about me. Pong never did tell me what they were saying, so it’s good job I am not a paranoid girl. Despite the lack of verbal communication, I became quite fond of the family in that short space of time.

After lunch, Pong and I treated ourselves to one last dvd session and I managed to stave off the nap knowing I would need to be really tired to sleep on the night bus later.

We said our goodbyes, I promised to be back real soon and we climbed into the tuk-tuk heading to the bus station. At the shabby old bus station we bought our ticket or 110,000kip which worked out at about 9quid, not bad for a 12 hour bus journey.

I pottered over to the food stalls and bought a baguette for the journey whilst Nikkers bought some Valium and anti-sickness tablets. We were there pretty early so I set about eating my baguette when, to my horror, I saw that they had omitted the key part to my sandwich, the chicken. I could hardly eat a salad baguette. So I trundled back to the stall where the lady didn’t look as surprised as she should have done when I informed her that I was lacking chicken in my chicken baguette. She quickly rectified the sandwich situation and after relieving myself on the stations squat toilets, boarded the shabby old bus heading to Vientiane, which was in the process of having a motorbike strapped to its roof along with other precariously placed items of luggage.

The bus journey was an experience, to put it mildly. Thankfully Nikkers had already done this journey and forewarned of what was to come. The bus was packed with locals who all dutifully took a plastic bag that was handed out by the bus driver. I later found out that these were sick-bags which were used several times by several of the other passengers. The main objective of this journey was to sleep through as much of it as possible. The main reason for this was to avoid dealing with the terrible driving conditions of the bus which drove at high speed round sharp mountain bends, through pot-holes swinging from side to side. I wolfed down my baguette, took a motion sickness tablet and a Valium, figuring this would be the best time to try the strong muscle relaxant. After chatting for a while, I blew up my travel pillow, snuggled under my sarong, put Stina Nordenstam on my ipod and drifted into a heavy slumber. I was vaguely aware of Nikkers snuggled up to me on my shoulder but I felt so sleepy that it didn’t disturb me at all.

Just after midnight I slowly became aware that the bus was no longer moving and it took some time and effort to open my eyes and see we had stopped at a roadside cafe. Even though I was in a deep sleep and perfectly comfortable,  I knew that this would be the last chance to wee, so I nudged Nikkers and went for a wee and then forced down some noodle soup.

The sleep after that wasn’t as heavy and I was aware of the swinging of the bus but I employed the best approach possible in this situation. Denial. I closed my eyes, listened to my ipod and dreamed of happy things.

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