The Truth about Laos - Part 2

Feb 18, 2011


There are times when we are overflowing with enthusiasm for life that we bite off more than we can chew and we become too overwhelmed that our world comes to a standstill. Sorry, I’m throwing riddles into the air again. Well, I have not been able to update this blog because my world had temporarily slowed down and I poured all my energy into an opportunity that came too unexpectedly but is too good to pass up. But I am not going to talk about that. I don’t want to keep you hanging in suspense so I will continue the story about Laos . . .

The Land of No Return

In the movies, we know it’s about time for dead people to cross over to the other world when a light suddenly appears on the horizon, and the dead suddenly find themselves floating towards the light to be transported to the Land of No Return. In our case, this was the light: 

A flicker of hope from the Cambodia-Laos border.



And the Land of No Return was Laos.


A Near-death Experience

While the rest of the scammed crew were sailing their way to the 4,000 Islands in Laos, seven of us—Pinky and I, Mr. Valiums 1 and 2, the Swedish girls, and Mr. Pot—were left to our fate of going on a “special trip” to Pakse aboard the “VIP” bus.

We were treading a dubious territory as the road to Pakse was so dark, you couldn’t even see your hands when you put it in front of your face. The occasional flashes of light coming from passing ten-wheelers and 4WDs were not a relief even, as we were thinking bandits would suddenly jump off the vehicles and kidnap or, worse, slaughter us. But well, there was no reason for them to do so because we were all penniless. In fact, Mr. Valium 1 had to borrow money from the tour guide to pay for his visa and from the driver, for his fare. So no, they wouldn’t think of kidnapping a bunch of ill-fated travelers, whose only possession was their passports and ratty rug sacks. Therefore, a massacre was out of the picture. Whew!

If we were to die at that time, it would be because of cold and hunger. Being the “smart” travelers that we were, we of course decided to test our cold endurance by choosing the coldest time of the year to travel to a country that borders China, which was enjoying the chill of winter. And because the climate has been messed up with this global warming phenomenon, the cool season becomes the cold season, and the cold season becomes the freezing season. So yeah, we were shivering and freezing our a***s off the whole time despite wrapping ourselves with everything that’s in our bags.

The hunger was another thing. We didn’t anticipate that it was going to be a fasting trip---no food, no water, no nothing. Thank god, Mr. Pot still had a few sticks of dope left which he desperately burned, fogging the “VIP” bus with the scent of sweet Mary Jane. And with teeth clacking, the rest of us desperately sniffed the second-hand smoke like hyenas scrambling for the last meat on a carcass. Ah, not a very good imagery, but I can’t think of a better one. The fake satiety that pot gives saved us from devouring each other. (This is the second time I’m thinking of cannibalism. Gives me the creeps.)


Bored to Death

Finally, after three hours of sniffing pot and saying the novena, we were welcomed by the same cold air, bright red lights, and fully-booked hotels---Pakse. For 30 minutes, we circled around the town to look for a suitable (read: cheap) place to stay for the night in vain, until our gurgling tummies and desolate spirits screamed at us to bite the bait of an expensive hotel at USD27 a night.

Our not-so-backpackish room.

The not-so-backpakish lobby.


Luxury at its best. Cold and hot water, a bath tub, cable TV, phone, wifi, aircon. They say, after a near-death experience one experiences a lightness, a comfort that’s almost too good to be true. Unfortunately, ours came with a price. The "lightness" had something to do with our pockets.

Really, there’s nothing I can say about Pakse, because there’s nothing to do there. And when I say nothing, I mean nada. And all you see is nothing, or an occasional sighting of monks and cars, or a handful of lost-looking tourists like us.


Hellooooo, anybody home?

 At last, some signs of life!


The dilemma of crossing the street without traffic.


The Death Sentence


We wanted to get out of Pakse fast, so the first thing we did the next morning was check out tourist agencies for the next bus to Vietnam. After all, the original plan was just to transit through Laos to get to Hanoi and see the beautiful Halong Bay.

Who would ever expect that a smiling tourist agent would give us the death sentence so early in the morning: “Sorry, no buses to Vietnam until a week after the Chinese New Year. They’re all fully booked.”

No way, who would believe such a crap? So we tried another one, who said the same thing in a different, more insulting version: “You are stuck in Laos.” (Or maybe that was my mind speaking.)

Panic mode. We needed a second opinion so we booked the sleeper bus to the capital, Vientiane. Maybe they would have a lifeline for us there.

We were wrong. 

The posh sleeper bus to Vientiane, with real beds and beddings. 
But it wasn’t our ticket out of Laos.

We Accept Our Fate


So we were really stuck in Laos. It was not bad, though, as we were able to see the beautiful sunsets, meet charming people, visit exotic temples, lie on the grass in the park, and eat  . . . grass. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. 

The real deal.


The Laos people are the friendliest you'll ever meet. 
They never run out of "sabai-dees" (hellos).



Pha That Luang, the national symbol of Vientiane.


One of the temples in the area.



Another one. If you crave for temple overload, Laos is the place to be. 



We spent most of our time in the park. 



Can somebody please tell me how to go about this?
This is the food that got Pinky swearing she’ll never eat Laos food again, ever!



So that was that. We enjoyed Laos, if anybody cares to ask. But still the truth was there dangling before our eyes, like a pendulum: we were stuck in Laos. 

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1 comments:

Losty said...

I guess stuck in Laos is a blessing in disguise huh?

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