the wonderful world of laos
The way north to the Cambodia-Laos border is long and dusty. I took the local bus, a long-tail boat, a taxi and a motobike. When I finally arrived to Vientienne, the capital of Laos, 2 days had passed.
The bus was nothing more than a pick-up truck with railings on the sides. I soon learned the best way to get a bus in Laos: sit on the side of the road and frantically wave your arms in the air. I was lucky enough to sit inside. The order went like this: the driver on the left, me pushed against the stick-shift, and 2 Laos women. We were lucky.
With every crazy arm in the air, the driver pulled over to let them jump on. Just when I thought we couldn't possibly pick up another person, the resourceful Laos would climb on the roof, or hang off the sides. The process never stopped until we arrived in Vientienne. Drive. Crazy arms. Pull over. Pick up. Drive. Crazy arms. Pull over. Pick up. Drive. Each time I turned around, to see who or what we actually picked up, a fresh smily face was pressed against the window. I was already liking Laos.
By the time I had passed through the Laos border, I had already missed the next bus north to the capital. I was in a remote fishing village off the Mekong River. A village so small, that not even the locals could pinpoint the exact location of it on a map. This was going to be my new home for the night. At first, I was annoyed that I had been mislead, but then I saw it for what it was: an adventure. This truly was off the beaten path.
The Mekong village I stayed in.
My patience was truly tested. Yet, I'm happy to say, that I passed. What was supposed to be a straight shot through the Cambodia border to Laos, according to the travel agent, turned into a loooong process with a lot of waiting around. I've heard this story a million times by other travellers. How typical it is for a bus to break down, only to wait for another bus to "rescue" passengers for a small fee. Or how immigration police give travellers trouble until they give them a bribe. There's usually a challenge. Luckily for me, the only inconvenince was the waiting and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.