Another bus station on the outskirts of town and another tuk-tuk transfer has us arriving in Vientiane. We need a place to stay; a place on the river would be nice. I had researched a couple of options. We ended up staying in a place suggested by another traveller we stopped to ask directions from. He had just spent the night in a place he described as being new, and a fantastic bargain for the price. OK! we can be fickle…I mean flexible so we had a look and decided to stay there.
The V Hotel, just across the road from the Chinese Temple and right on the river. You could look out of the window and see the Night Markets in action, and then if you wanted to, within five minutes you could be amongst them. For 200,000 kip a night the hotel, a little more than your average backpacker would like to pay, but we deserved it for a night or three. We had endured a two and a half hour bus ride having to listen to the, where have you been? serve and volley. A $27 room was just far enough away to unwind.
We had so many options of where to eat at night but our favourite would have to be an open kitchen/ wok out front, Chinese Restaurant just down the main road from the hotel.
The restaurant sits within one hundred meters of the hotel. The menu was large enough to suit most tastes. My favourite dish would have to have been the crackled pork, mmmm crackled pork. Marinated pork belly, flash fried in the wok, then thinly sliced and fanned across the plate with a dipping sauce and set of chopsticks that’s it, simple but so mouth wateringly delicious we had to return to sample more of their other dishes.
Of a night time the aerobic classes will form groups. Each group has an instructor dressed in one particular colour. With a headset on they’ll call the shots from the front. With the devoted team members mirroring the instructor’s movements to the bass heavy beat resounding from the speakers set on either side…. the levy is alive.
The markets would be a welcome distraction in the evenings after dinner for the cook.
The more distractions she found the less room we had in our bags. It was time to bite the bullet; we had to get another suitcase, one with wheels and a handle, a hard shell.
Just like a hermit crab, these snails were about to change their shell.
The Lao National Museum was something we found interesting, the decrepit structure unable to hide its scars. Namphu Fountain, That Dam Stupa and the Tourist Information Centre were all paid a visit on our way to the vertical runway.
The guys at the information centre were great. They couldn’t have been more helpful than they were. I was given a map that included several of our intended destinations along with advice on purchasing sleeper bus tickets.
Next stop Green Discovery to pick up our Sleeper Bus tickets to Pakse.
180,000 kip each (8000 kip 1USD..7333 kip 1AUD) this would include a pick up at the hotel on the nominated day.
We had enjoyed Vientiane this time, a little more than we had before. It’s somewhere that we would like to explore a little bit more in the future.
Our six o’clock pick up arrived right on five thirty. The hard shell suitcase slotted into the back of the van as if it were made for that particular position. The traffic was heavy; the rain that was falling would make the trip a little more hazardous as we made our way north to the Southern Bus Station. Here we would be unceremoniously dumped with a finger pointing in the general direction of our bus to Pakse. The last thing I saw of that driver was him standing there in the rain, scratching his head trying to workout what the last of his pick up passengers wanting to go to Vang Vieng was doing on his bus (that bus station is in the opposite direction)
We had plenty of time to kill before our 8:30pm departure, it was still raining. Seats in a bus shelter out of the rain had us watching organised chaos for the next hour or two. We would be, somewhat of an attraction for the locals.
Finally it was time to board the bus. A small boy shows us to our bunk. Resigned to our fate we clamber onto our bedding then survey our surroundings. I exchange a blanket with one deemed a little more acceptable. One of the two empty bunks in front of us has my name on it, I tell the cook. There was no way we could both sleep in the one bunk and get any sort of sleep. As soon as the bus closed its doors that spare bunk was mine. It rained for most of the journey. I remember waking up a few times during the night wishing I had the power to levitate my body above the bedding; eventually my phobia would be overcome by fatigue.
The roadwork outside of Pakse seems to go on and on. There’s a lot of money being spent on infrastructure here. We arrive at the VIP bus station in Pakse around 7ish.
The tuk-tuk driver scrum packs down ready for the games to begin.
Most of the accommodation is within walking distance but like a lot of first timers I suppose, we elect to ride to our intended guesthouse. We now have a suitcase to consider.