The End of a Journey
21.01.2011 - 21.01.2011
Well my nearly 3 week journey through the Jewel of the Mekong has come to an abrupt end. After 18 days of wandering through beautiful countryside, towns and adventure trips it all culminated in one interesting bus ride back to Vientiane, where it all started…
The time was 8pm, the place was Pakse VIP bus station. I boarded the sleeper bus to Vientiane and promptly found my bed, it was the first on the left. More curiously, there were 2 bed numbers for the one mattress. Looking around nervously, I noticed that nearly everyone was bunked up with one other, sharing one mattress. Will I be bunked up with a stranger? Surely the ticket agent would not do this to a farang (foreigner). Alas, not long after I saw a foreign girl looking up at the numbers above the bed and looking very confused. I introduced what I thought was the sleeping arrangements; she didn’t believe it and went in search of the truth. Not long after she came back and confirmed it was true, we were bed buddies. Fortunately, we were both relatively small in size and both from Australia – so we got on great with common language and eventually managed to lie as comfortably as possible, albeit mentally awkwardly, for the 10 hour bus ride to Vientiane.
The first leg of the trip was rather rocky and other foreigners being a little edgy and weary of the precarious nature of the drive. However, we all did arrive in one piece in Vientiane, although a little groggy and tired. We had enviously watched the other newer looking VIP bus with curtained privacy and one person per bunk every time they or we pulled out of the different stops along the way. Lesson learnt, buy ticket from Kriang Kai, never again with Kingham Transport!
So back in the capital, it nice to be back! I had the best croissant I’ve had outside of France (I’ve been looking for good ones) at the aptly named Café Croissant D’or. With a café Lao to pep me up, I’m good for the day! With some shopping to look forward, I know exactly where to go and what presents I want to buy!
In reflection, it’s been a great trip and I’ve learned so much about Lao culture, the people and not to mention experiencing this gorgeous country. Not to mention the interesting people I have met along the way and their entertaining travel stories. Highlights are:
1. Seeing so much eco and sustainable tourism practices across the country
2. Being able to get so close, without restrictions, to so many natural landmarks
3. Zip-lining through Tad Sae Waterfalls and wa-hooing like Jane following Tarzan through the jungle
4. Rock-climbing the Karst peaks in Vang Vieng
5. Staying overnight at Kuangsi Waterfalls
6. Seeing the Irrawaddy dolphins playing in the Mekong river
7. The croissant this morning. Yes it was that good.
Highlights of Backpacking Through Laos
Almost everyone I met, whether they spent 1 week or 7 in Laos all had positive feedback and really enjoyed their time here. Rarely have I come across such unanimous opinions on one country! But all admit that you really must have a sense of humour when you travel! You can’t expect every day to be perfect, but it can be pretty close traveling in Laos – the Jewel of the Mekong.