Day 11: The long and winding road to Vientiane

It’s 5:45pm, I just got into Vientiane and I’m already thinking of how I’m going to get out. Not that there’s anything wrong with the city, it’s just that I need to be back in Bangkok before the 18th, and it’s already Friday tomorrow, so I need to book myself train tickets back to Thailand.

Luang Prabang 23
Luang Prabang bus station

The bus pulled out from the station just outside Luang Prabang at 8am. It was interesting to see how different the places outside LP looked. It was more modern, and there were no tourists in sight. Riding the bus were mostly backpackers on their way to Vientiene like me, or hopping off at Vang Vieng.

The bus drove up and down the mountains, going slowly as there are sharp curves that bends to the left and right. Still, even with the driver’s careful maneuvering, a lot of passengers still got motion sickness, and the plastic distributed at the beginning of the trip was fully utilized. We passed through the worst of it on the first part of the journey. By the time we stopped for lunch, everybody was ravenous. Luckily, this time, the food stayed in their tummies.

Luang Prabang 27
Gorgeous mountain views on the highway to Vientiane

While the bus was winding through the mountains, I kept looking at the electric posts that line the road. There doesn’t seem to be any lights along this road, and it must be really scary driving through the mountain in the dark. We arrive in Vientiane around 5:30pm, and since I don’t have any reservations, I just pointed to the names of the guesthouse I written down in my notebook and hoped my tuktuk driver knows where it is.

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It turns out he didn’t. After conferring with a bunch of other tuktuk drivers, they really didn’t know which guesthouse I was talking about, so I pointed to another guesthouse at a different address. He knows where that is and drove me there. It turns out the guesthouse was full, and he insisted that he knows another place where he can take me. So he drives to this guesthouse that’s still pretty near the river, but I already had a bad feeling when I saw the door to the room. It reminds me of those hospital doors that are built wide to let hospital beds pass through easily, and inside, it was just as bad. It wasn’t dirty or anything, but it just has that feeling of being a hospital. I don’t think I can sleep there.

NFA Rice spotting in Laos
NFA rice spotting inside the bus

Not that the one I’m currently in is any better. I just relented since it was cheap and I just want to get rid of my tuktuk driver. I paid for two nights here, and tomorrow, I’m going to look for better digs. My target is to get out of Vientiane by Monday evening, so I have to buy my train tickets tomorrow as well.

Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 4 Comments
  1. Marvin Yap says:

    Taking the train would be great since it would probably be a different experience for you, HOWEVER get a train with a bunk bed as it is a very long journey…

    Otherwise you can always take the bus going back to Bangkok, hope in at around 6PM and sleep all the way. By dawn, you should be in Bangkok…

    I remember the “epic” journey we had a year ago…

    Manila to Bangkok
    Bangkok to Siem Reap
    Siem Reap to Bangkok
    Bangkok to Vientiane
    Vientiane to Bangkok
    Bangkok to Manila (FINALLY!!)

    It was a great experience… Managed to squeeze tiny Vientiane in the journey at the very last minute!! :D

    Enjoy Vientiane, there is a very nice scandinavian bakery along one of the main roads perpendicular to the river, one of my favorite eating joint there. Also, try eating at Sticky Finger, I just love their Blue Cheese Burger

  2. Photo Cache says:

    You are so brave travelling alone, of course this comes from me who can’t do that. I enjoyed reading your adventures and looking at all the pretty little scenes you captured in your travels.

    I jumped from Dong’s blog.

  3. davidd aka puuikibeach says:

    More questions as usual.

    When you’re staying in these inexpensive hostels… it sounds like you actually have private rooms each time. Is this actually the case? And for seven dollars?

    How much “stuff” are you carrying with you? Are all your belongings, and toys, and cameras, and computers, all in a backpack? I’ll have to check earlier posts to see if you posted your packing list. I want to see a photo of your bags. Ideally, I’d like to see a photo of you in “traveling mode,” loaded down with all your gear as you head to or from the bus station or airport.

    What do you do with your things during the day when you’re out exploring? Do you leave your belongings, including your computer, in the hostel? Or do you carry everything with you all the time?

    Do you talk to many American or European travelers? Are they managing to travel as inexpensively as you? I know that Europeans are big on the backpacking thing, so I imagine some of them know how to travel on a shoestring budget. My experience hob-nobbing with “globe trekkers” is limited to seeing a few, and being sort of disgusted by them, as they all hung out together in a trendy “back-packers bar” in Barcelona, swilling over-priced beer and paying more money than I would have to go on a “pub crawl” to other over-priced bars. What percentage of backpackers do you think are actually doing it “on the cheap,” and how many are spoiled rich kids with plenty of money, doing the travel thing as a lark, with no genuine need to pinch pennies?

    Also, it doesn’t look like it’d be a whole lot of fun having to always carry around a fifty pound backpack.

    Nevertheless… I am envious beyond words that you are able to travel like this, to find such bargains, to have such an interesting time, and that you’re sharing it all with us in such creative write-ups. Let me clarify, this is “envy” in a good way — I’m delighted for you, I’m learning a lot, I’m so so very happy you’re doing this; I just wish I had my act together enough, and that my situation were currently a little different, so that I might do something as bold, daring, and adventurous.

    You still have most of the trip ahead of you! Yay! Stay safe, and thanks for letting us tag along, even if it’s only in a virtual sense.

    And yeah… photo of your entire “travel kit” would be much appreciated!

  4. nina says:

    Thanks, Photo cache :)

    Davidd: I wasn’t able to take photos for my usual “What’s in my bag” posts, but I figured it’d be more meaningful to do that at the end of the journey so I can enumerate how each item fared. Just to give you a clue, I don’t lug a 50 kilo backpack. At the airport, I learned that my backpack just weighs 6.5kilos :) It’s still safe as a carry-on luggage (as it’s supposed to be), but I just had too many liquids in it to be allowed. Plus, that leaves me with less things to mind on board, since I already have my camera and my laptop in my messenger bag.

    When I go out, I leave my laptop inside my room. In Siem Reap, where I had daily housekeeping, I usually leave it inside one of the drawers, unlocked. It was still there when I got back. The following two guesthouse don’t have housekeeping, and my things were pretty much intact when I get back from a day of exploring. My current guesthouse do have housekeeping, but i requested not to have it, since I’m leaving tomorrow anyway.

    I hardly ever talk to anybody, save for the hostel/guesthouse staff. Oh, I’ve also moved from dorms to private rooms, since I had my camera and laptop to take into consideration.

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