We left for the bus station to catch the 8pm “sleeper bus”. Arriving there a little early we smashed down a pizza at “pizza king”. It was great 👍🏻. I would recommend it if you are in town waiting for a bus.
Well the time came and we went to get onto the bus, the driver stopped us, telling us that he had a bag for our shoes… shoes? Huh? Well got to the bus and realised why. The bus had no seats, only beds 🛏…… I promise you this is the truth.
What a great idea….. except when you are 6ft tall. Whilst others could lay flat on their back I could not, I did find that if I went on my side I could curl up and could then sleep. It was surprisingly good once I found a position. This bus was heading up north however we were getting off at a stop before then. We planned to get off at Thakhek, I was paranoid that we would miss the stop again so I set an alarm (in fact three of them) and forced myself to stay awake.
We arrived at 1am and there was markets open and a ticket station for busses…. I decided a quick bathroom stop was needed and a smoke and then found no ticket station was open anymore and the markets were closing up… doh!!!
Trying to communicate with a tuk tuk driver trying to explain that we needed to get to (183kms away) SpringRiver Resort & Restaurant, BAN TIOU.
******** 2.5 hours later*********
We work out that there is a market around the corner, there was busses leaving at 7.30am, the tuk tuk driver agreed to rip us off on price and take us to said market. We arrive at the markets to find it closed and gated off, he said “four minutes”…..😕 I respond “four minutes?” Or “four hours” or “four days”….. he responds with “yeah yeah”……….. ok… at this point I’m tired, I just want to get to the destination. He leaves us there, the time is around 3.30am…. I decide that I have a few hours (I think) till this place opens I might as well try to get comfortable. I throw my towel down on the foot path and use my back pack as a pillow, it’s getting cold so on comes the jacket, hood on and asleep I fall….. for one hour
The gates opened at around 5ish, we walked down and found that there was in fact a bus stop but all I wanted was coffee. Coffee here is unique to say the best. They make it with condensed milk so it feel like a slap in the face from a sugar fairy when you have your first sip, but hey, I just slept on the side walk so who am I to start demanding a vente skim no whip mocha?
A woman approaches and tells us there is a tuk tuk going to where we need to get to, now tuk tuk can mean bike, truck, van… it basically means “cheap cheap”. We had our ride for the next 183kms…..
Nothing but the best pleather seats on hard wood for the trip 🤣The scenery was amazing, I have never seen hills like this and the photos don’t do it justice. They looked like from another world, all jagged
The driver then proceeded past our turn off, I started tapping on the window and he puked over, I explained that the resort was 48kms down the other road, he grunted and indicated I get back in the tuk tuk…. finally someone understood my instructions….. and we keep driving…. and driving…. we pull up at a dust bowl of what seems to be Na Hin and a taxi stand. After more discussion of me not understanding him and him not understanding me with a few Italian hand gestures thrown in for good measure we were told to get on another tuk tuk…. he is leaving in 2 hours….it’s now 10.30am, we started this journey at about 7pm the day before… it’s been 15 hours of travel and transfer and broken communication and hot and cold I just want to get there.12.30 finally come and we get on board… along with a couple of other people….. he starts loading up supplies as well and we are off…. then we stop…. he starts filling 20 litre containers with fuel so we are crammed in with other people, supplies, goods, mail, beer and over 100 litres of explosive liquid….and we are off again…. then we stop…. we pick up more mail…. now normally I’m pretty easy going but this dude is throwing everything into this trip, what should take an hour thirty is looking like it’s going to take a lot longer
we ended up going off the beaten track into the villages and I’m actually glad we did, I got some great shots going through there.
We arrived at the resort 2.5 hours later… the time now is just after 3pm… it took us around 20 hours but it was worth it, we had a private balcony with river views, the place was quiet, clean, service was amazing and it was just bliss. We had something to eat and the food was just fantastic. I highly recommend this place to anyone.
The following day we jumped on a boat down the river to go see the caves they have here, it arrived right at the door step of the resort and off it went on a 30 minute boat ride down to the cave area.
Once down there it was grab the head touches and head into the cave that has another boat waiting. Unfortunately there was a black out at the time so the spot lights in the cave were not on, it was pitch black. The whole experience was still fantastic and would recommend it. We even stayed in the boat going down some small rapids in the cave.
On the way back I was able to capture some shots of local people by the river, this one would be my favourite.
The following day it was raining so just chilled out at the resort however later that evening we discovered they don’t accept card payments, cash only and we are hearing back into town the next day to catch a bus to the next location….. another couple from Belgium 🇧🇪 had the same issue, they also had one scooter. Now I have owned and ridden bikes in the past, in fact some pretty powerful ones but scooters scare the shit out of me, small wheels, small brakes, top heavy, I just hate them and what I hate even more is ridding as a passenger, tonight I would face both of those issues. The roads are horrid, I wouldn’t even call it pot holes, I would call them sink holes they are that bad, half is dirt the rest is degraded road. I jumped on the back of the scooter with the guy and off we went for the 50km trip that would take 1.5 hours to do. We arrived in town and headed to the bank, the ATM was not on….. we found our way to the only other bank and ATM….. they were down…. FML!
We rode back to the resort. When back there we decided that in the morning we would get the local tuk tuk into town, try the ATM’s again, if that failed try the bank itself…. we took the near two hour trip in…. ATM’s were still down, the banks couldn’t help, this time the guys girlfriend came with us, her and I hired a scooter and headed back to the resort, next plan was to TT the money direct to the owner… logged into internet banking and went to make payment…. the bank wants to send me a bloody sms with a code!!! Vodafone doesn’t work in this country, I have no way to get the code. The owner of the resort was kind enough to trust that I would make payment at the next town, I rode the scooter back into town and when I finally get there the stupid ATM is up and running… I can’t win!
I have 45 minutes till the bus comes so not enough time to go back to the resort with cash so I just wait for the next bus.
The bus finally comes at 1.30pm (it should have been 1pm). The next challenge on this amazing race is we are heading to the capital, it’s about 6 hours away and the next bus leaves at 8pm when we arrive. I try to ask the bus driver where the bus finishes, what station as there are three main stations there all in opposite corners…. he looks at me, looks at google maps in front of him and shrugs…….
The bus gets us to the southern bus station at about 6.45pm… I need to get to the northern bus station by 7.30pm….. after negotiations with the tuk tuk driver we were off on what should have been a 25 minute ride and at the last minute some other random passages jumps in…. I follow the little blue dot on google maps and this dude is not going the way he should be, seems we are dropping this girls off first… to cut a long frustrating story short we arrive at the station at 7.50pm…. get on the bus and it’s an overnight bus to Phonsavan……. We are back on track.
Phonsavan is home to places called the plain of jars (the reason we are heading there). This place has such history my next post will just be of that and I will also be putting together a video, the history is sad but the present is more so…. more to come.