After spending a day recovering from the days Tubing we now planned to visit the Laos capital for a couple of nights. Again avoiding using the tourist transport like everyone else we thought it a good idea to catch the 5 hour public bus. Tom had spoken to a couple of local guys a few days earlier who'd unconvincingly advised the bus would be at 9.30 am, so the stop was only a ten minute walk from the guest house and after breakfast arrived for 8.30am.
Expecting to see a few buses to pass the other direction we sat by the roadside waiting for about an hour and a half. With only hassle from the tuk-tuk driver we sat and didn't seen anything either direction and memories of our past successes and failures using the public transport through Loas and Thailand to date we soon lost confidence in the bus ever arriving. Instead another infamous sawngthaew (pick-up with the bench two seats) turned up, we reluctantly boarded and crossed our fingers the guy didn't just drop us in the middle of nowhere.
The journey was a little difficult at times, cramped, clouds of dust and smoke passing through, numb bums, and the need for the toilet but fun none the less. The highlight was when a local man in his seventies hailed the pick-up over, accompanied by a young Laos lady in medical uniform. The old chap, with his aged limbs clambered in as we spotted a glass drip bottle being held above is head with a needle in his hand. With only a very limited ambulance service this was his only way home, a passenger helped loosely tie the bottle to the pick-up roof and off we went again. Struggling to keep the liquid within the drip constant and due to the winding roads, the drip was swinging all over, the old gent had to lay on the floor until he arrived at his destination, and with bottle held over his head waddled home. Absolute magic!
Arriving in blistering heat on a remote side of town we managed to get a tuk-tuk the remaining 8km for 40p, not bad.
The scenery was stunning throughout, this country is something else, and it was a rare chance to interact and get involved with the Laos people, something many backpacks don't seem to do.
It turns out the capital is an expensive place to stay and the guest houses within our budget were awful, after an hour in the heat we were forced to fork out 3 times the amount we'd spent on the previous night for a room. On the upside this place had AC, TV (no True sports), and wireless internet (which never actually worked). Having a wash we headed for lunch where en-route saw one of the guys we'd met on our 2 day boat down the Mekong though Laos, Pardeep from Manchester, and agreed to meet up in the evening for a birthday tea on the riverside.
Without the heavy bags and heat we looked at a few more guest houses and found one a little grotty but with AC and TV (for the Burnley vs United game) tomorrow night.
In the evening we meet up with Pardeep and three of his friends, chatted about India and had fresh fish by the riverside and finished in a few bars, good fun.