It’s going to be tricky writing today’s trip, so here’s a chronological description.
0600: I woke up, packed up my bags and was ready to leave at 0620. Chris woke up a bit later and Rene’s public radio alarm failed him due to a power failure.
0645: Left Rene’s house and headed to Manikong for b’fast. Nice pancakes and an omelette sandwich to get us thro the bus ride! Rene tells us that the flight to Vientiane is 50$ and takes an hour and we paid 30 for the 24 hr bus ride
0725: We bid farewell to Rene and hit the road, 10 km to the bus station in a really cool morning!
0755: Haggling at the bus station. They wanted 100,000 Kip to take the bikes. We figured the airplane might be a better option and decided to cancel our bus and got our money back.
0845: The airport is deserted and we sheepishly had to ride into town to buy flight tickets. We have actually left the town pretty much everyday since we got here and returned back every day. Just like today!
0900: We talk to the agent and be laughs all the way telling us the flight was a better option all along.
0915: He informs us the flight is 130 usd and excess baggage is 8000 kip per kg ( we’d easily have 12 kg excess).
0930: we decide to take the afternoon bus, which incidentally is a sleeper class! And set the cost of taking bikes at 70,000 kip.
1000: we walk into forest retreat and tell our friends, “we are back” and the story of our fickle decision making :-p
1130: we knew Melanie had a brunch appointment at Zuela guest house and popped in to surprise her. She couldn’t believe we were still in town, but as usual, it was nice hanging out with her.
1315: We pop into a pharmacy and buy some motion sickness pills. He bus rides thro some treacherously winding roads and the story is that everyone gets sick, ugh. We bid farewell to Melanie and hit the road! Again.
1330: we meet a British cyclist who is on a shorter 8 weeks tour and talk with him for a bit. If we had met him earlier, we might have stayed to just talk with him about his travels and the routes he took. I realize we are running close to our schedule and push off.
1400: we get to the bus station and there is barely any room in the boot to fit the bikes and more people are streaming in win big luggages. We find a nook to squeeze the bike in and we are ready to leave.
1445: The driver decided to take my bike out to fit other luggages and eventually, my bike rides inside the bus! Like a passenger. Paid 70,000 kip for the bikes on bus.
1500: we finally depart from Luang Namtha. We are sure to be back in a few days :-p
1900: A loud crack, and the bus stops in the middle of a pass in the dark. Driver and his minion walk out with torches and start looking at the suspension / drive train in the rear. Turns out to be just a flat. The rear tire exploded shredding the sidewalks. Now we are running without spare! Reminds me of Denali! The passengers get off and help the crew with picking out the spares and tools and the tires are changed in no time.
1935: The bus gets going on it’s way… Took as much time it would take for me to fix a flat on my bike!
2145: Highway stop. Got some cookies, peanut candy and bananas to serve as dinner. Expensive on these bus stops. Notice that the bus driver has an aide, like the ‘cleaner’ in Indian trucks. Brings back memories on passing thro Dharapuram in the wee hours of the morning :-p
0545: Pee break. I eat a few bananas. The bus journey is actually comfortable.
0830: I spot a sign, Vientiane 50 km. nearly there!
1000: We stop off at the Vientiane Bus station! 5 minutes to put the bike together and I am ready to ride!
The Bus ride was only 19 Hrs, for future reference 🙂
Distance: 0 km (30 km, but won’t count it)
Ascent: 0 ft
Descent: 0 ft
Time in saddle: 0:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 11.25
Comments: We finally, though reluctantly, left Luang Namtha.