After Pii Mai Lao – Following the Laos New Year celebration, it was very hard to wake up the next morning. We had to catch a bus back to the border in order to make a quick trip through Bangkok and down to the islands. The next 30 hours were perhaps the longest I’ve ever spent, but I’m proud to say that we experienced our own little portion of “The Amazing Race.”
Here’s how it went. From the ferry on Don Det, we took a truck to Pakse, then a tuk-tuk to the bus station on the other side of town, another truck and bus combination to the Lao border, and then we had to walk a mile across the actual border. Whew! And if that wasn’t enough….
On the Thai side we took a tuk-tuk to another bus station, two buses to Ubon, and another truck to the larger bus station in Ubon. Weary and hungry, we approached the counter, eager to hop on a bus for Bangkok and settle down for the long ride. However, hundreds of Thai’s had the same idea. Silly us, deciding the travel the day after the largest public holiday in SE Asia.
There were no buses. There were no trains. They were all full. Not only were they full that evening. They were full for the next four days. There was nothing available.
We were so disheartened and stricken that we just sat down in the middle of the bus station, wondering what we could possibly do next. None of us wanted to spend another minute in Ubon, but we especially didn’t want to hang around for three days – not when we had made it this far.
Ta-da!!! Miracles do happen (or Buddha blessings). Out of the blue, the humble bus station manager and his wife approached us, pulled some strings, and we were soon happily clutching three bus tickets for a night trip to Bangkok. We had several hours to wait so we camped out and bought some much needed food.
Mr. Bus Manager also doctored my foot (injured at the waterfall), wrapped it with guaze and patted me on the head before loading our bags onto the bus and waving farewell. I was once again overwhelmed by the extreme kindness and helpful nature of the Lao people. We waved farewell in return and settled back into our seats. Bustling Bangkok would greet us in the morning.