27th April 2012
Constantly travelling the last 3 days on local buses and tuk tuks from Vang Vieng to Kong Lo Cave then back to Thakek did not end here. We still had more travelling to do!
If you look at a map of Laos, you will see that the country is very thin but also very long from north to south so it’s not surprising to see many travellers only do the north of Laos and then continue on to Vietnam that is next to Laos. However, as Matt, Alannah, Muriel and I are hardened backpackers that don’t take any hassle, we opted to travel and go off the beaten path on our route to 4000 islands.
Yes, our next destination was 4000 islands. They are found at the bottom of the country and literally close to the Cambodian border, in fact 4000 islands share Mekong river waters with Cambodia.
But first we had to get there. And that meant another local bus from Thakek, the scene of my bugged night stay, to Pakse first. Pakse is the major city dealing with the south and we needed to change there to get to 4000 islands.
As we arrived back from Kong Lo Cave, we booked our tickets for a bus with upright seats to take us to Pakse that was to last 6 hours. We left at 9pm and somehow we would arrive in Pakse in 3am. Oh great.
Boarding the bus, we grimaced. The Laos music videos were on that sang the same style of songs constantly. I suppose I should be thankful that I’m deaf as I switched off my hearing aids and went to sleep for most of the journey only occasionally stopping to drop off people along the way.
We knew we wouldn’t be arriving at 3am as we factored in Lao time. Lao time means arriving much later than it is advertised. This is completely true to be the case of every journey we’ve been on and I don’t understand why the Lao bus service continues to advertise times much earlier. Saving face I suppose.
By about 5am, I woke up to the bus stopping and looked out of the window to see lots of people unloading motorbikes from the top of the bus. There was nothing to indicate we were in Pakse. But to check, I opened my window and caught a person’s attention and asked if we were in Pakse. He shook his head. I asked again very slowly and loudly and he said ‘no Pakse.’ Confident, I shut the window and promptly went back to sleep again.
‘Ed! Ed! Wake up! Wake up, you handsome beast!’ (okay that last part was made up), Alannah’s voice punctuated my dreams as she shook my leg as I was curled up in 2 seats. I opened my eyes blearily and looked outside, we still hadn’t moved and it was 6.30am. I stared at Alannah. She looked freaked and my eyes opened more.
‘We’re in Pakse! And the bus to Si Phan Don (name for 4000 islands) is leaving now!’
I dropped my head back on the seat and replied, ‘no Alannah, we’re not in Pakse.’
‘it is! I’ve just woken up and went outside to check and it’s leaving now!’
I sprang out, grabbed my belongings and knocking a sleepy Matt with my rucksack and exchanging a look with Muriel, we all rushed out and chased a slow moving bus that was waiting for us to jump on. We managed to and sat down to comprehend what had just happened. 5 mins prior, I was dreaming of scoffing a Fields Meat Pie here I was. We all started laughing out loud and Alannah said,
‘I did wake up at first and wondered if we were in Pakse but didn’t do anything about it as Ed would have been worried enough about it to find out if we were…’
We all continued laughing.
Surely I wasn’t that bad. Yes, I do like to know all the information and facts to be aware of what’s happening. But I didn’t realise that it came across to my travel mates.
Pondering this, I suppose because as we were in a country with a whole different language and one that is not easy to read, i cannot understand fully the tonal language that the Lao people speak. So as long as I know beforehand what happens then I would be comfortable and confident enough to know what I’m doing.
There’s nothing worse when I cannot understand the writing and also cannot understand what the person is talking about. I’m doubly screwed.
I know I will relax when I get to Australia as its all English there, but I suppose I’m a little uptight for knowing what I’m doing in SE Asia.
Has my travel mates bruised my ego?
I don’t think so, but it did make me think about myself getting in situations where my deafness would be a huge factor. I think I would be okay but requires a lot more work than the hearing people. I’ve just got to put up and get on with it and hopefully, my current and future travel mates would have the patience with me to find out more information than usual or perhaps if I rely on them to find out the information for me.
Rumbling into the port that shuttles the bus to the main island, Don Kong, I woke up my travel mates and vowed silently, I need to take a backseat and chill out more and see where the travelling takes me.
Who knew a shake of a leg could start this off…
P.s sorry for the lack of photos..