Although it was one of the most spectacular road trips that we have taken in Southeast Asia, even the scenery on the bus trip between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng could not distract me from the fact that I was holding a plastic bag full of my own warm stomach contents. Having done pretty well on a couple of previous busses and trains, I was hopeful that motion sickness wouldn’t be an issue but the road was just too much for me. The road wound relentlessly through the mountains but that wasn’t the only interesting part of the trip.
For starters the trip was supposed to take 3 hours, but we have learned that when you are given a time frame, it is the absolute minimum time it will take under ideal conditions. And of course, conditions are never ideal as there is always livestock on the road as well as places where the road has been washed out by a landslide. So the trip took about 5 hours.
Halfway through the trip the bus driver pulled over at a wide spot, opened the door and yelled “toilet”. Feeling both ill and the need to go to the bathroom, I dashed off the bus and start running down the path. I went for quite a ways before the path began to narrow and I realized that there was no actual toilet.
I was more than happy to use the great outdoors because I was not sure if my stomach could handle an actual SE Asian toilet at this point. Then I remembered that people are still injured every year by land mines in Laos and tourists are warned not to leave the path.
Having relieved both my need to pee and to puke, I felt a bit better and started to look around. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this place that I had just desecrated. In one direction a limestone cliff towered above me while I had a view of the mountains in the opposite direction. The path just a head of me lead to a rice field with an incredible view of the valley below.
The story of the trip didn’t end there. Shortly after getting back on the bus from the toilet stop, it began to rain. There was a considerable lag before I realized that the bus driver wasn’t turning on the windshield wipers. The wiper arms had no blades.
Although we were on an express bus, it is run by the Laos government which is very poor. Laos is regularly a recipient of aid from China, Korea and Japan. It was formerly supported by the USSR. A doctor that we met told us that the Chinese built a hospital in Luang Prabang, but that in the rainy season it was very hard to get to because the Laos government did not have the money to build a road.
In addition to the driver most buses in SE Asia have a driver’s assistant. That person collects tickets and helps with luggage. On our bus the assistant was obviously training to be a driver. On one flat straight spot in the road, the driver and assistant traded spots, WITHOUT stopping the bus.
he road to Vang Vieng was a memorable part of our journey. One that we hope to not repeat!
Bissky Dziadyk Family
Travelling the world as a family since 2008.
In September 2008 our family embarked on a four month journey through South East Asia. Traveling with a child who uses a wheelchair presented its challenges, but following the Mekong River through China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam with a wheelchair was truly an adventure.
When we move beyond our fears and embrace our dreams, the Universe has an odd way of not only supporting us but giving us more opportunities than we ever imagined. Embarking on a journey with an open heart we can not help but be changed forever by the experience. Indeed it would be a waste to return untouched in the spiritual realm.
September: China (Beijing, Xi’an,Kunming, Yuanyang)
October: Northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay) and
Laos (Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane)
November: Southern Vietnam (Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta)
December: Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampot and Sihanoukville).