Taking local transport in South-East Asia is still the best way to go!! As always, it is much cheaper than the VIP or tourist buses and just as quick. However, we have discovered that we don’t normally have assigned seats. Therefore, when the bus of choice pulls into the station, there is a mass exodus that explodes and throngs of people rush for the single door of the bus. Since we are usually the only westerners that will take local transportation, we are also the sole bus riders with bags to stow under the bus. After a few trials and failures (meaning we had to stand on the bus after waiting to stow our packs) we have developed quite an efficient system.
Two people are in charge of baggage, which is a hot and sweaty job, especially when there isn’t a “chief bag helper.” The other gets to push and scramble and knock elbows to grab 3 seats. I am always the lucky one that gets to sit by the fan that doesn’t work. No complaints – at least I have a seat. I have to emphasize that these seats are normally designed for a 5’4″, 100 pound Thai man, not an American girl that is 5’9 and mostly legs. Half of the trip is spent with your knees crammed into the seat in front of you and the other half is spent wiggling around and trying to shake some life into you legs that seem to have lost all blood circulation. No complaints – we are saving money!!!
Laos is wonderful and we have so many things to do. There are waterfalls to explore and caves to climb. We will travel east to the Plain of Jars and then south to Vang Vieng where we might work on an organic farm for a week and enjoy some kayaking and white water rafting. From there, we will stop in Vientiane before going straight down the coast to lay on the beaches of the 4,000 islands and swim with freshwater dolphins.