We had to leave early to get to Luang Prabang and after the birthday celebrations the night before this really wasn’t easy. Sam and I were the last on the bus so we got the suicide seats at the front for the 10 hour journey.
The ride would have been bad even without a hangover but to make things worse we also had the worst bus possible. It wasn’t a massive bus crammed with hundreds of people and half a farm or anything like that…it was worse.
It was like a big mini bus and kind of had air-con aswell but it was the seats that made it so bad. The seats were just about big enough to sit on if you were a Borrower. They weren’t even designed for small Asian people, they were designed for 2-year-olds.
I usually get comfy on a coach by slouching forward and resting my knees on the seat in front but some bright spark obviously thought it was a good idea to give you extra leg room so the seat in front was too far away to rest against and because you had to sit so straight and upright the extra leg room was pointless. The seats were quite high as well so my feet didn’t quite reach the floor so they were left dangling with nowhere to rest. So basically, it was just the most uncomfortable bus journey ever.
As you can tell, I spent alot of time thinking about how much I hated the bus. Ten and a half long and painful hours to be exact.
It was actually a really beautiful journey because we were driving along the winding lanes in the mountains. It was so lush and green and pretty. Unfortunatly, the winding and the up and the down and the left and the right and more winding didn’t really help the hangover so I had to close my curtain, focus on the back of the drivers head and take deep breaths for the whole journey.
At one point I could hear Ross retching in the back but, fearing what I might see, I didn’t dare turn around. I had flash backs of a school trip where sick was rolling up and down the isle of the bus. The retching carried on for about half an hour and I began to feel really sorry for Ross, especially when people were telling him to shut up, so I turned around to check on him and he smiled at me with a cheeky grin and I realised he was hiccuping.
‘I’m sorry guys’, he started apologising, ‘it’s just how I hiccup’.
My sympathy instantly vanished and I wanted to strangle him to get rid of his hiccups and the weird noises that were making everyone want to be sick.
We stopped for lunch in a small village that sold baguettes. This was a bit of a luxury because we usually had chicken noodle soup at random road-side shacks on bus journeys. The toilet in the back was a hole in the ground which was bad but to make it worse we had to walk through the yard to get to it where monkeys were chained up.
One monkey was on a chain so short it couldn’t even move and another was on a longer chain about a meter long so it constantly paced backwards and forwards all day long. It was so sad and I felt bad about thinking that a little self-induced hangover was bad.
Luang Prabang was probably my favourite place in Lao and we spent most of the time here wandering around the massive night market. Most of the Asian markets were fun for about 3 minutes but then you realise that they’re all filled with the same old crap on every stall. They’re absolutely packed so you can barely move and as soon as you look at something you get hassled for at least 15 minutes to buy it.
The market in Luang Prabang was totally different though. It was so chilled out and quiet. the stalls were all set on the floor where the owner sat quietly and peaceful often making whatever it was that they sold. The stalls seemed to go on for miles and genuinely sold some good stuff. There were the usual ornaments and t-shirts but also some really nice paintings, silver jewellery, silk scarves, massive squidgy slippers, toys and loads more and tonnes of fresh fruit and yummy food. It was a night market so it was lit by twinkly lights and music was playing softly.
I was usually scared off by people pressuring you into buying stuff at markets but it was so chilled out here that we bought loads and had fun bartering for the lowest prices.