Vientiane, 16 hour sleeper bus, 4 hour coach, longtail & Don Det
Be warned this is a long entry! (I should do it more often than all in one go!)
Arrived in Vientiane after a 4 hour minibus journey where we had to sit in fold down chairs in the aisle of an already packed solid bus. Checked into Aroon residence which was nice but full of mosquitos - but they don't actually bite, haven't been bit since Changmai. Vientiane in itself is a hole, for a capital city there is absolutely nothing there, we did all the tourist sites within about 4 hours, booked our sleeper bus to Vientiane, then looked for a Chinese restaurant as we had heard there was loads but we failed and ended up settling for chicken tikka masala from the only place open. (Everything was closed due to Chinese new year).
Our sleeper bus was leaving at 7pm so to kill the day we checked out of Aroon, left our bags behind reception and walked down to use the pool at the 5* Mercure hotel. It was so nice, me and Liam were the only ones in the pool. However pretty sure the 2 Russian business men who were eating in the outside part of the restaurant were like pretty important guys, they kept shouting at people on the phone telling them they have 20 minutes to "get the papers signed". It got pretty heated and the president of Laos kept coming up in conversation. Especially when a guy turned up and refused to sign the papers. Once the entertainment was over we tried to get a bottle of water but they wanted £7.50 for 2 small bottles! So we left, went for lunch and mooched around Aroon until we was picked up for our sleeper.
Finally got on the sleeper about 7.30pm, really comfy single beds that you actually have to share with another person. Luckily for us we are travelling together so this werent a problem and we laid watching walking dead (addicted!!) then popped a valium each and passed out for the next 14 hours. We was rudely awoken when we arrived at Pakse by the driver who just got on and started shouting get off get off lol. Got off, collected our bags, waited around for an hour and a select few of us were not allowed to get on the connection coach with everyone else was getting on, we thought what a result when we was told to board a air conditioned minibus, the luck was in... Or maybe not! We got the minibus literally down the road where we was told to get out and wait again, waited for possibly another hour and then the same bloody coach we had been told not to get on, pulls up, packed solid. Mad rush to get on and thanks to 5.5 years commuting to London in rush hour me and Liam managed to grab ourselves a seat each. Our friends weren't so lucky, Zac (who has always been a day behind us so we have only just met despite him knowing the whole spicy crew) and a few others were sat in the aisle on his bag for the 3 hour journey,
Lost everyone at the port to catch the longtail boat over to Dondet and so just jumped in the first one that came, rushed straight round to Sunset bungalows where Karina was staying to see if the had rooms but no luck - fully booked. Started a trek down the island looking for somewhere half decent... No luck - one place had a huge hole in the floor next to the bed literally the size of a small dinner plate and you could see the grass. The next one looked really nice from the outside but the toilet was not attached to anything and had half a broken seat on it and the sink half off the wall. By this point i was tired, hot, sweaty and moody. Started walking to hunt the other side of the island and came across billies bungalows. Nothing special but it would do for one night till we could scout out something else. Had a shower, dropped the bags off and went for a beer and some lunch with Karina, left her to chill and went for a walk around the island to find a bungalow for the rest of our stay, booked DonDet bungalows on sunrise side, pretty expensive (£10 a night) but it was clean and nice. We then walked back to sunset bar for dinner, fell asleep there for 2 hours and woke up just in time for the sunset. Watched it, went back and got ready and headed out to the bars to experience the nightlife, sat in reggae bar where we was later joined by Zac (im like his mum haha).
Day 2 in DonDet Karina messaged to see if we fancies cycling to the waterfalls so we moved into our new guesthouse, rented bikes and set off to find them. Took quite a few wrong turns and almost ended up cycling to the border of Cambodia but we realised halfway that we were lost and turned back, bumped into Zac and followed him to the waterfalls. They were beautiful! Lazed around in the restaurant on the mekong "beach/mudhole" cycled back had another chicken tikka masala for dinner with Zac and had an early night as we booked an all day booze cruise/tubing for day 3.
After yet another s*** breakfast (laos food sucks!) and a s*** morning for Zac (a dog crapped on his lap hahaha) we headed to Adams bar to meet everyone and was taken to a island 20 mins away which had a bit of a beach on it. Met loads of people (including our first couple!), drank loads of free sangria and lao lao and coke. Had an amazing bbq lunch, paddled/tubed in the mekong (in true Zac style he managed to deflate 2 tubes!), we then headed back to DonDet where Liam went with everyone and tubed and drank beers watching the sunset. Me and Zac stayed on the boat because he cant swim and I was burnt.
Got back to the island, Zac manages to backplant into the samd, we showered and met Zac, Andy and Clara, had a drink in Adams bar then headed down to the far end of the sunset side to meet the rest from the trip. Had another beer there and decided to move back to reggae bar and go get food. Staggered back down the the path in the pitch black, had a weird guy keep walking past me and Clara then turned round to see another guy creeping up on the guys. Was bloody scared but nothing happened. Then Andy touches a frog (there was loads of them on the path) it jumps and lands on my foot so more screaming. End up in reggae absolutely wasted. Sat down at the campfire on the beach till 2, ran away from a heard of buffalo that was mooching through town eating out of the bins, one of the guys we was with was so scared he was literally underneath a restaurant hiding haha! Walked Zac home because im a good parent and he is not trusted to not fall over in the dark haha and then crashed in bed.
We all met again the next day for brekkie, poses for photos with a buffalo, got a message that Nico and Ben (laos spicy crew) had arrived on the island, met them and then cycled again to the waterfalls to chill out in the hammocks. (My ass kills from all the cycling!) Spent the whole day there, the restaurant installed wifi but no toilets so Zac has to crap in the dustland where he also got bit by a spider (honesty he is calamity james!) we ended up going for another Indian (seriously laos food sucks) and having an early night as Liam had taken one of my malaria tablets which had made him feel like s***.
Up bright and early this morning as we were being picked up at 10 to head to Pakse (for our flight to Siem Reip tomorrow). Sat and had breakfast - well i fed the majority of mine to the dog. 10am rolls past, still no-ones collected us, we see 2 snakes, 11am and still nothing...
Owner calls the company, they must have forgotten us so she lets us on her boat and drives us back to mainland where we climb across 2 boats to get out and hang around for an hour to board the minibus. Been on here about 30 mins now.
Anyway Laos - you've grown on me and no matter how much I hate places when i turn up i love them when i leave (except vientiane - hole!)
Bring on cambodia!