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Simon’s Travel Diary

Friday, 23 Dec 2005

Location: Luangprabang, Laos

MapITS OVEEEEEERRRRR!! Finally the excrutiating pain of the bus is behind me. So I am in Laos...plans changed. The last five days have been a cornicopia of buses....buses, buses, buses. So we left Kunming on Monday night and took an overnight night train to Simao, which is in the middle of the southern part of Yunnan. We got there at 6:30 in the morning and then proceeded to get on another bus to Lancang which is close to the border with Burma. This bus we the worst experience in buses I have ever had. A Tiny "bus" that managed to fit about 35 people in it. Anyway, the bus trip lasted like 6 hours, making stops to pick up people on the side of the road with all there farming produce and live stock...of course there were no luggage compartments so eveything sat with us. The road, which was under "construction", was more like a continous pot hole made of red clay. Anyway, we spent six hours cramped into a seat without moving. It was interesting and all, but by the end of it I thought I was going to go crazy.
So we got to the town and the plan was to rent motorbikes and tour around. We quickly discovered that bikes could not be rented, only bought....which seemed like a better idea cause we could go all the way into and across Lao. So we were going to by bikes, but then we thought about it for a minute and realized that there would be no way to get registered, and the thought of Chinese legal complication quickly bust the enormous bubble. So we were essentially in some backwater chinese town with no way to get around other than bus. So we said f--k it, forget the ten days in China and lets go strait to Lao were we can get our hands on some bikes. So the next morning at 6:30 we got on a bus.
Now this bus was somewhat better than the last one, we got better seats and it didn't pack quite as many people in, but the road, my god the road. To begin with there was a dog tied to the roof (which incidentally wasn't there when we stopped) who barked and barked and barked. The road, which was actually some sort of stone path winding up and down montains with huge cliffs and landslides everywhere, was so slow and bumpy I thought I was going to puke. It was 6 hours long. Granted, the country side was absolutely amazing!! Some of the most beautiful natural scenery I have ever scene. I can't really describe it, but it was like going back in time. Crazy.
SO after 6 hours, we got to Jinghong, where we got on another "bus", more like a big van, and travelled for another 4 hours. Got to the bus station in some small town and then transfered onto another bus, travelled for 2.5 hours, and then got to Mohan, a border town with Lao.
Next morning we crossed the border on foot and climbed into the back of a pick up truck (which had benches) and rode for 3 hours till we got to a town called San Nach Than. There we hung out for the rest of the days because Keuron was really sick. So mark and I rented motorbikes and went out into the country side. It was awesome. WE went trhogh all these villages and stuff. I gave a ride to some old lady who was carrying a 40kg bag.
This morning, up at 7 to catch a bus to Luangprabang...which was 10 hour bus ride. The buses stop every ten minutes to opick up people and their goods (fauna or flaura) and drive on twisty pot hole ridden roads that wound its way through the mountains. Again it is absolutely stunning, but after 5 days we were going to go CRAZY!
But its over. We are here. I am in Lao. The plan is to rent motorbike for 3 weeks and travel throught the entirety of nothern Lao. No lonely planet or anything. Just drive. Its gonna be amazing.
Merry Christmas!