We were picked up from Chang Mai just after midday, from there we drove to the border. Being the last 3 to be picked up I found myself squashed between a sick Dan and everyone else's rucksacks. We'd been driving for about 2 hours when we had a toilet stop, fed up with a sick boy slouching on me and a tone of bags, I managed to sweet talk to driver into sitting up front with him. The remainder of the journey was much more pleasant. We arrived at our guest house, which was right on the river that divides Thailand from Laos. We had a pretty early night and were told pickup in the morning wasn't until 10am.
This is when the worst 24hrs of our lives began. At 8:20am we were woken by a knock at our door, we were then told our ferry to Laos border check was leaving in 10 mins and everyone else had left. In a mad rush we got everything together and made our ferry. We then had to wait a lifetime to get all our passports and visas checked. Once through we were taken to a cafe to wait for our taxi to the rice boats. We had planed to take rice boats over the next 2 days to Luang Probang. Whilst waiting we were informed that they had over booked the boats by over 50 people and so were putting on a bus to take anyone who wanted to go direct to Luang Probang. With the promise of getting there a day earlier and that the bus was a VIP air-con bus we jumped at the chance. So those of us who were getting the bus we shoved in a tuk tuk and taken to the bus station where we waited a good couple of hours for our bus. We were then informed it would take 11 hours but also we wouldst arrive until 5am (It was only 12 noon at this point) confused we put it down to poor communication as the bus station stated it was only 505km away! To start off with the journey wasn't too bad, we each had a row of seats and the views were incredible, we made a few stops when locals started to board. Even though there were plenty of free seats this one man insisted on sitting next to Dave. This guy stank!! Not your normal body smell but rotting flesh mixed with gone off spices it was nasty!! We made the first toilet stop about 4 hours in, where we realised we had only gone 200km! Dave then sat next to me for the remainder of the journey as the smelly man was really turning his stomach. I was having to battle with having the window open to get fresh air from the smell and freeze or probably throw up on Dave. We didnt stop again until 9pm for a dinner break. By this point we were all feeling so rough from the bumpy road and the smelly man, only Dan could stomach food. We got back on the bus at 10pm, I managed to get some sleep until, it started raining. I have honestly never seen rain like it! It down poured, within minutes the road was flooded and every few km the bus was having to stop, so they could check the water depth. Then my window started leaking! It was only the odd drip to start with but after an hour its was really flowing in. I used my pillow to soak it up for about another hour until that was wet through at that point I had to move. The rest of the journey was just terrifying, people were throwing up the bus was in total darkness and the road was no longer a road, but a river. We eventually arrived at about 5am, where for some unknown reason we had to wait in a tuk tuk for another 45 mins before we were dropped off at our guest house. The Guest house was closed unsurprisingly, but Dan managed to find a bell and the friendliest, 1/2 asleep man, opened the door, took one look at us, sat us all down and gave us bananas and coffee! We had to wait till 8am for the guests to check out, in this time Dave disappeared! Sat with a couple of people we were on the bus with and lots of coffee the time flew by. When the staff were ready to check us in, we asked them where Dave was, thinking he'd slipped into a bed!! They took us out the back to their kitchen, where they had made him up a bed and he was doubled over in pain! Dave was suffering from really sharp, shooting pains in his stomach! We sat with him for about 1/2 hour but, they appeared to be getting worse. Terrified he'd got a burst appendix or something, I managed to convince him to go to the hospital. The guest house staff were lovely and sorted us out with everything. When we got to the hospital we were passed from person to person with no one really wanting to deal with us, as they didnt speak English. Eventually they found a doctor who spoke English and examined Dave. They diagnosed Gastroenteritis. They explained he would need an injection and to take some drugs. At this point Dan went as white as a ghost at the mention of needles and was sat with his head between his knees. So I was stuck in a room with Dave in a lot of pain and Dan terrified of needles. Dan went for a walk while Dave was treated and it wasn't long before Dave had been given a bag full of drugs and we were on our way. The guest house staff have been lovely checking in on Dave all the time bringing him water and soup. We spent a good few hours sleeping after that adventure (Dave still is) Bring on the next bus journey!!!