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Dalama Adventures Tale of two corporate types ditching their jobs and traveling the world for 14 months... check out all photos, blogs & interesting tid bits at http://www.dalama.net

Auto Parts Grow on Trees

LAOS | Thursday, 7 June 2007 | Views [2532]

..."good luck to everybody" reads the sign at the bus station, above the ticket window.  That sign says it all, so clearly.  It means, we hope our bus gets you to your destination; it will require much luck, as our non-serviced, overly packed buses break down every few minutes, and continue to take on passengers even if people must hang out the doors, and dangle from the roof-tops.  We hope the bus doesn't tip over from the overloading, and that you make it to your destination...

Of course, we've been on the busses in Myanmar, and figured we're now well adapted and can handle just about any kind of bus ride.  We have the patience to sit for hours, every hour, while a bus breaks down, because we know that eventually, by some miracle, we'll make it to our destination.  We're beginning to realize that it does get worse than Myanmar...

We got to the bus station before 7:00 am as instructed the night before, but the bus was already packed full, both inside and out.  Visions of Myanmar played in our heads, however at least in Myanmar once you bought your ticket, you had a reserved seat.  So I found a young college grad local who spoke English a little, and he helped us negotiate 5 seats among the remaining space on the bus.  We stashed our bags on the seats, and loaded our packs on the roof of the bus, along with a ton of produce and goods from all the locals.  The bus left once it was fully bulging with passengers, and only 30 minutes into the ride, it broke down...  it was going to be a long trip.  They first rigged up some wiring to hold the clutch together.  The the driver stopped the bus, twice, and got out his machete, taking to task on a roadside stump of wood, carving out a makeshift suspension part to strap onto the bus to hold it up from collapsing on the left side.  The bus clanked along, and people vomited outside the windows as we swerved, winding through roads of heavily logged out forests.  The song by Jack Johnson, "Break Down" where he sings about wishing his train would break down so he could walk around the town and experience the local world played on my iPod.  Coincidentally, we again broke down...  this time the village we broke down in ended up being a great photo shoot session with locals, and there was even a wedding going on.  So for an hour while the driver was making auto parts from trees, we got to mingle with the locals.  We began to wonder if we'd actually make it into town tonight, or spend the night on a broken bus in the middle of nowhere.  True to form, however, the bus finally rolled into town around 7:30pm, after a long day of starts, stops and spare parts.  We had tenuously negotiated a ride in the back of a local taxi (pick up truck covered by makeshift canvass roof) to our hotel pick out of the guide books, but when we arrived we were told the hotel was "finished" by the woman at reception who spoke no English.  We assumed that meant "fully occupied" and strapped on our packs into the dark, unlit streets to find another place to crash.  Luckily there were two Philippine women on work assignment with a local NGO in our truck who spoke English, and they had been here before, and so we followed their lead down the road.  The Lonely Planet recommended guesthouse was quite nasty, so we shelled out the high price of 90,000 kip, double that of other places in town, for Viaphone Hotel, and hoped it would live up to the price for a night. It turned out to be equally as filthy once we pulled back the bed covers, and really looked at the floor and walls.  Our bathroom was rank and the shower didn't work, so I went downstairs at 1:00 am to try to get us another room with some water - no one spoke English, so I invited the guy up to check that there was no water coming from the shower.  He moved us to a room, after trying three others, that had some water trickling out.  We were finally able to get a few hours sleep after de-griming ourselves with a cold shower.  We got our early morning wake up call by the village loudspeaker megaphone that was attached to a tree across the road pointing directly into our room.  Not sure what they were broadcasting, perhaps some communist government propaganda, but that, along with the roosters and other farm animals rang through our heads at 5:00 am.  

Tags: Misadventures

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