Patience is a virtue
01.08.2009 - 31.08.2009 32 °C
Well I have just arrived in the town of Huah Xai on the Thai/Laos border after an 16 hour bus journey from Luang Prabang. Once again to round off my terrible luck with Lao bus travel the bus broke down.
I've travelled by bus a lot in Asia now and I have a few thoughts.
- As a foreigner you will be sent to sit at the back of every bus
Don't sit at the back of a bus if you can avoid it at all. The suspension system will not be able to take it and at the back you suffer every bump and imperfection on the road (there will be a lot of 'imperfections on the road')
Don't sit at the front of the bus. Unless you have the calm disposition of sloth or are heavily dosed with valium so that you're surroundings are covered in a happy haze you won't be able to stand looking out the front window at all the near misses with oncoming traffic. Unless you are at ease with your own mortality avoid the front.
Your bus driver will have been an ex demolition derby driver who has been thrown out of the association due to his over aggressive nature and reckless driving.
No bus in Asia will leave until it's full. Why have seats empty when you could wait for a few hours to fill them and get some extra money.
No bus in Asia is ever full. You might think that since every seat is occupied that the bus is now full – think again and readjust your thoughts on personal space.
Air conditioning often just means that the windows will be rolled down.
Not being a member of the homo sapien species doesn't preclude from riding the bus.
Always add at least 2 hrs to any bus journey length (more if its raining).
No bus will leave on time (and won't even leave on Irish time) – there is always wiggle room.
The bus driver will stop for any local who flags him down.
Locals don't use the bus station they wait randomly at the side of the road and with an admirable sense of adventure seem to flag down the first bus they see regardless of its direction.
Your bus has about a 50% chance of breaking down (100% in Laos if my experience is anything to go by).
Your bus driver will most likely be a competent mechanic and will get the bus going again – if not get ready to wait for a replacement bus or attempt to flag down passing traffic to complete your journey.
You will go deaf from the god awful Asian pop music that is played at ear drum bursting volume levels.