Tuesday, 10 December 2013

We’ve Got Two Bus Tickets to Paradise

Turns out any bus karma we had we left with the Germans as when we arrived at the bus station we found out that our 9am departure would now be 10.30 at the earliest. At least this meant we could find some breaky and we managed to find fresh fruit smoothies and our first ‘sticky rice stick’, really quite tasty, with a smoky tang to it.

Sticky rice stick - conveniently wrapped
in bamboo for easy transportation
 After a long wait our minivan was finally full enough to move out, albeit very slowly as we never exceeded 20km/hr, which may have been a good thing as there was zero suspension. A monk settled in next to Sarah, and his first line was ‘Do you get carsick? I do…’ A second reason to be grateful the trip was slow as the road was the worst we’d been on yet, half pot-holed dirt, half poorly done bitumen, so it was a long ride to Pak Mong during which thankfully the monk only groaned a few times but managed not to throw up. 

He was interesting to talk to, and surprised us by telling us that he couldn’t wait to ‘take off his orange’ and become a tour guide. We had assumed that all monks actually wanted to be monks, but for him it was just a service he had to do and he was keen to finish up.

At Pak Mong we changed to a different minibus and again waited about ½ an hour before enough people had boarded so we could leave. Thankfully, this bus was slightly newer, still no suspension though, but the road also improved and it was only a 45 minute trip till we finally arrived at our destination Nong Khiaw. 

Relaxing!!
From the bus depot it was a longer walk then we expected into town so we dumped out bags at the first café we found so we could look around at the bungalows and find ourselves a good deal for a few days. We chose ‘Bamboo Paradise’ and for $5.50 a night we had riverside bungalow, ensuite and free Wifi, a bonus we weren’t expecting. Something else we weren’t expecting was to actually discover there was an ATM in town, a brand shiny new red one that spewed out ads whilst not in use. These ads seemed to intrigue the locals and there was forever a small group standing around watching the ATM and listening to the colourful ads.

It was already 5pm by the time we settled in, we’d again missed lunch so went for an early dinner. It was a good thing we did as it was well past 6pm by the time our food arrived, but thankfully Beer Laos is cheap and refreshing and the food was well worth the wait. We were already in a good relaxing mood and our rest days hadn’t even started.

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