Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Long Hard Road to Luang Prabang Part 2

My night bus from Vientiane to Luang Prabang


In Vientiane. At the North Bus Station.

It was 5PM. I have 3 hours to spare. I walked out of the station and proceeded to the nearby Butterfly Restaurant. My very first proper meal in 25 hours! My last meal was a snack at Klever Juice in Hanoi. I ordered Chicken Fried Rice at 15,000 kip ($1.87), Iced Lemon Juice at 8,000 kip ($1) and Pepsi at 4,000 ($0.50). The place was also a karaoke bar with waiters outnumbering their customers by 1:5. My waiter was extra attentive. I’d take a single sip and he refills. I’d turn to get my camera from my backpack and he assists. It was embarrassing. Why do I seem to get very enthusiastic waiters? During my meal, he began relaying his sob stories. I’m awash with melancholy. I was in Laos to have fun, yet he was making me cry. So I masticated my food faster than I had to. I churned the chicken meat with my molars until I was victorious enough to respond with “Can I have my bill?”


At 8PM, I boarded my bus. I was satiated. I took my seat just in front of the last row. The bus boasts of a toilet. At 8:10, the engine roared to life and I was – finally! – on my way to Luang Prabang. Two Lao boys sat behind me. One of them was playing his iPod, occasionally singing along – aloud! – with Westlife songs (Fool Again, My Love) although his lyrics were mangled into unintelligible words. It sounded cute. I’d go to France and do a French song. I’m sure they’ll find me cute too. LOL. The aircon was blowing steadily. I had my jacket on. I closed my eyes and relaxed as a loud line-up of Lao rock boomed from the speakers. Oh well. I might as well listen to Lao music in Laos. Where else will I be lucky enough to hear them? It’s an opportunity to educate myself.

I was getting comfortable with my position. I felt I was heading into deep sleep. Ten (10) hours to get to Luang Prabang! It better be worth it! My head tilted against the empty seat beside me. Then it got uncomfortable. I opened my eyes, checked the air vents. OH MY GOD! NO AIR!



Official name: Laos PDR (People’s Democratic Republic)
Capital: Vientiane
Government: Socialist Republic ( i.e. Communist)
Independence: From France July 1949
President: Lt. Gen. Choumally Sayasone
Population: 6.5 million (Vietnam now has 86 million)
Currency: kip ($1=8,000 kip); the dollar and the kip are accepted all over Laos although you have to be sure not to exchange too much kip since it can’t be change to other currencies outside Laos.

Mood: laidback, hospitable, friendly, good natured & honest people


· Tuktuk ride from south bus station to north – $1.25 or 10,000 kip

· VIP bus ticket from Vientiane to Luang Prabang - $15 or 120,000 kip

· Chicken Fried Rice - $1.87 or 15,000 kip

· Iced Lemon Juice - $1 or 8,000 kip

· Pepsi - $0.50 or 4,000 kip

What SITEMETER tells me.

For the fun of it, I recently installed Sitemeter on my blogsite. To my surprise, about 70% of my hits come from outside the Philippines which somehow underlines the “reach” of the internet. I am aware of its reach, just not with my blogsite, which is spectacular. To be honest, this site has a limited readership. Which is fine. I just want to document my travels and, in the process, share some insight on travels to these amazing places.

I used to keep a journal on these travels. However, they just gather dust somewhere. When I try reading them again, I lose interest. I cannot read my handwriting!!! LOL. Putting them down in a blogsite is way better. For one, the photos come alive!

Here’s a cross-section from the locals hits: Caloocan, Quezon City, Baguio, Cainta Rizal, Aloguinsan Cebu, Tarlac, Makati, Manila, Baliuag and Meycauayan Bulacan, Puerto Prinsesa, Pandi Bulacan, San Pedro Laguna, Bacoor Cavite, Negros Occidental, Alang alang Leyte, Davao. Isn’t it spectacular what sitemeter can gather?

The foreign hits: Basking Ridge of New Jersey, Sydney, Bad Ddrenberg in Germany, Erlangen and Pffarkerchen of Bayern Germany, Tokyo, Brisbane of Queensland, Phoenix Arizona, Guangzhou in China, Singapore, Bombay of Maharashtra in India, Oakland California, Lexington Kentucky, Vegas, Hanoi, El Mirage California, San Jose California, Bangkok, Hayward California, Jersey City, Santa Clarita Cali, Neuhausen of Baden, Markham Ontario, Prague, Orlando Florida, Calgary Alberta, Beckenham Kent of the UK. Dubai, Vilnius Lithuania, Denmark Copenhagen, Loughborough Leicestershire, Milan, Sitka Alaska, Meezen Germany, Landskrona Sweden, Dallas Texas, El Paso Texas, Wheaton Illinois, Calcutta India, Harwich Massachusetts, Honolulu Hawaii, Billancourt France, Jakarta Indonesia, Moreno Valley Cali, Bedfordshire, Chennai, Rhododendron Oregon, Warsaw Poland, Reykjavik Iceland, Turku in Western Finland, Macon Georgia, Exeter, London City, Delhi, Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, Cairo, Hong Kong, San Mateo California, Maricopa Arizona, Akashi Hyogo, Vienna Austria, Kuala Lumpur, Cleveland Ohio, Gaithersburg Maryland, Madrid Spain, Corpus Christi Texas, Amsterdam, Ljubliana Slovenia, a French island territory called Reunion Island near Madagascar, Alhambra California, Saugus Massachusetts, Jacksonville North Carolina, Montreal Canada, Taipei.

All these countries in 48 hours? The world is really getting smaller!

And where in the world is Gullbringusysla? I am also getting a place called Reunion Island which, I learned, is a French territory just off the coast of Madagascar. (I met a lady from Madagascar on my train from Paris to Barcelona once. She was from Antananarivo, which I believe is the capital.) I am amazed not with the volume but the variety, the cross section of different places. I am sure it is just novelty. I am sure other blogsites get so much more (variety and hits) than what I have. Nevertheless, it blows my mind to get such detail in 48 hours from sitemeter. If you haven’t installed one for your blogsite, please do so. It’s fun.

I’m getting some places like Delhi and Calcutta, Chennai, Uttar Pradesh (isn’t that where Agra is? Taj Mahal) and I’m thinking, hey guys, I’ll probably be shaking hands with you before the year ends. Pede bang maging ka txt mate? (Can we be textmates?) Silly me!

How come there is a China? I thought the Chinese government blocks blogger.com – my friends in Shanghai cannot access my site. Why am I writing about this? Coz I am amused with what I have learned. And if anyone of YOU gets to read THIS, thank you for dropping by my blogsite. I hope you all get to travel soon. Otherwise, my blogs would solely benefit ME! LOL


escape said...

I’d go to France and do a French song. I’m sure they’ll find me cute too.
>>> funny one here.

didn't know the trip was that long. it's like going to Bicol.

i heard a lot about luang prabang. can't wait to see the pictures.

Anonymous said...

oyyy me too... i'll go to france anytime, pero dapat libre...LOL

pamatayhomesick said...

ang galing ng trip...bago lang ako..pero mukhang madalas akong papasyal..

eye in the sky said...

ayan may kuwait na rin ako. haha. salamat sa pagbisita. nabasa ko rin yung entry mo about the "dates". sana matikman ko rin yun ng presko at hindi naka preserve. mukha naman kasing walang nabibili sa pilipinas.

eye in the sky said...

dong, mas matagal pa nga kesa bicol di ba, kasi plus 10 hours pa papuntang luang prabang. the most recent local travel i've had on a bus was going to Isabela. i was told 6-7 hours lang daw when it actually took 9 to 10, pero sulit naman.

despite all the not-so-nice things i've experienced, wala akong pagsisisihan. i wouldn't change a thing there, execpt maybe pay $14 for Vientiane, instead of $30 for LP.