yesterday we took the bus from luang prabang to vang vieng. the bus ride was supposed to take about 6 hours starting at noon. of course, around here nothing ever works out quite the way expected. a few hours after we got on the road, the bus blew out a tire. i guess this is a pretty common occurrence here (several other travelers had mentioned frequent flats on buses). half an hour later, the flat was fixed and we were on the road. but of course, even that wasn’t enough. about 5 hours into the trip the bus started having major issues. it kept failing to start up and the bus driver tried to do some repairs. then, while on a long stretch of windy mountain road, we started running out of gas. uh oh! at this point, the driver actually flagged down one of those gas tanker trucks and got some gas directly from their storage container.
a few hours later we finally arrived. everyone was tired, we were a few hours late, and we all got off the bus in a daze. that’s when all of a sudden the bus took off. huh?! our backpacks were still on the roof!! after a few minutes of panic, it turned out that we hadn’t actually gotten to vang vieng yet. we were in a town called Kasi, still *2 hours* from our destination, and the bus had taken off to just get gas and come back. phew! so when we eventually did get to vang vieng, the 6 hour trip had turned into a 10 hour one.
but to be honest (before the last couple of hours), the bus ride was actually really cool. we drove through the mountains and the rolling lush hills everywhere were really dope. also, we drove through a bunch of small laos villages and it was interesting to see how the people there lived. it seemed like everyone was really hard at work. from little kids, to adults, and to old ladies… everyone was cutting down plants, hauling huge piles of lumber, building houses, and doing all sorts of other manual labor. it’s so odd to see how much people’s roles here are so different than back home. in the US i could never imagine seeing a 60 year old woman hauling like 80 pounds of wood on her back and i could also never imagine seeing a 5 year old girl carrying around an infant on her back and taking care of it. but here everyone has to play their part, both the very young and the very old. a lot of the people on the side of the road seemed pretty excited to see the bus, and the little kids would run around and wave to us.
today we were planning on exploring the caves surrounding vang vieng. there are supposed to be a lot of them. but instead we decided to just take a day off from sight-seeing, traveling, etc. we’re probably gonna just hang out, catch a movie at one of the local restaurants, or whatever. it’s funny, when i first got to thailand i was shocked by how many people sat around and watched movies during the day. all i could think was that they were wasting precious time on their vacations doing stuff that they easily could do back home. i’m coming to realize now though, that sometimes you need a break. you can’t *always* be off doing something wild and new. sometimes you definitely miss and need the small comforts of home like lounging around and watching tv or whatever.