Well, i there’s anything I can advise it would be: don’t get the bus from Chiang Mai to Laos. Even the most resilient ones in our group were keeling over with the feeling of nausea. The bus ride is truly one of the bumpiest, most uncomfortable journeys I have ever been on, and it doesn’t help that the roads are windy the entire twelve hours.
Not that the girls would be happy to hear me say this, but I was probably the most comfortable of them all, laid out on the back seat using their bags as a pillow. Their seats didn’t even recline. Another reason not to take this journey, would be the toilet stops. i realise that there are bugs in Southeast Asia, but one particular toilet was so covered in bugs that the floor appeared black, and looked like it was moving. As I was hunched below a mass of large black winged beetles that were clinging to the wall, I decided to squat down with the door open, as I didn’t want to see what was behind the toilet door.
The border of Laos lies along the Mekong River, which was a breath-taking sight at 6am. We sat in a restaurant overlooking the river while our bus driver took our passports and visa applications to be processed. This was a good opportunity for us to stretch our legs and get a bite to eat (jam on toast was the only option here). Despite having paid for a direct bus to Laos, we we found ourselves embarking on a new bus, though this only took us to the official border offices where we waited for the return of our passports. At 9am we found ourselves on what I can only describe as a cardboard bus, its seats crawling with ants. Perfect.
Finally, we were deposited at some sort of a bus station seemingly in the middle of nowhere, and had to wait for an overcrowded tuktuk to take us to the Vang Viene town. Arduous journey over.