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where in the world is steph.... Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? -- Mary Oliver

bus to nowhere

LAOS | Wednesday, 11 April 2007 | Views [903]

The very familiar sound of rain on the roof was the first thing I heard when I woke up, but thought nothing of it. I had yet to really see rain since I had arrived in Thailand in January, and chocked the noise up to the wind. I went downstairs and was so excited to see actual rain! I ran outside and enjoyed the fresh air that the rains had brought. After walking around the block looking for breakfast, I caught a VIP bus from Vientiane to Luang Prabang. The guy who ended up sitting next to me was from Ireland, and an English language teacher in Bangkok. He had a few months off and was traveling around Southeast Asia. To our great amusement, I realized I had been on that very road before, passing a house with huge piles of plastic garbage in front of the very nice house. It took the bus only an hour and a half to reach the place that I went kayaking. I enjoyed watching the scenery go by, farms and villages, beautiful mountain ranges and very little jungle, so much has been logged it is depressing. The rain was still coming down at a good rate when the bus stopped for lunch. We chatted with some of the other passengers on the bus, and as we got back onboard the rain began to wane.

We continued on through some spectacular mountains, when all of a sudden we pulled over to the side of the road. I looked out my window to see three men sitting beside the road underneath a banana leaf that had been stretched across two sticks. Propped up on the sticks were two guns. The driver hopped out and gave one of the men a bag with three oranges, and took four cigarettes out of his pack and handed those over as well. Some things are better not to know about. At lunch we had talked to Laos man who had told us that the road to the Plain of Jars (not the road I was on, but one that was to the east) was not very safe right now, apparently there had been some ambushing and raids going on. This had led to much speculation about who the men by the side of the road where, but no one ever gave us any kind of real answer.

Not long after our bus pulled over by the side of the road. It quickly became apparent that we had broken down. Most of the passengers piled off. The air was still cooled from the morning rains, and the view was spectacular. We spent about three hours waiting by the side of the road. At times other buses pulled over, as well as various cars and trucks. We may have been in the middle of nowhere, but we were surrounded by people. We arrived in Luang Prabang around 8pm. We took a tuk-tuk into the center of town, and ended up walking through the night market looking for a guesthouse with rooms available. The power had gone out, and the market was lit by candle light. The quietness of the city was amazing. After I found a place to stay, I went back out toward the night market in search of dinner. I ran into all kinds of people I had met in Vientiane, it was funny that I had been in Luang Prabang less than an hour and it already felt like a small town.

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