Going into this particular sleeper bus trip I knew that my connecting bus to Thakhek in the south would leave at six and noon from the opposite southern bus station in Vientiane but I already figured I would have no hope of catching the first so I laid back knowing that I was in no rush with the bus likely reaching its concluding stop at 6 or so in the early morning. Surprise of all surprises the bus made it into Vientiane at five in the morning which gave me a shot at pulling this thing off. Amidst the annoying crowd of tuk-tuk drivers that could not help but gravitate and then cling to me like an up forgiving swarm of leeches, I found a tuk-tuk going to the bus station. Unfortunately I didn’t have the upper hand to barter down the price with the current need to get moving ASAP. Still he had to wait until a total of seven passengers filled his tuk-tuk to make the journey worth it in his mind. As tired as I was, I was getting antsy and animated. He filled the dang thing with seven and still kept looking for more potential customers. I repeatedly said that a deal is a deal and that was what we had agreed on while not holding back one iota. I was going to get what I wanted no matter who was around. Realizing I was right, he relented and cleared out everyone in front of his path so that we could make a charge out of there. He dropped off people along the way short of the Southern bus station and when each local paid I kept a close eye as to what they were paying since I had been convinced he was ripping me off and in a playfully joking yet serious matter I vocally made my thoughts heard. Unless they were doing some trickery that went way beyond necessity, the man played me fairly and justly despite his original delays. We arrived to the bus station where I quickly purchased my ticket aboard the local bus before leaving swiftly within a matter of ten minutes of me arriving to the station. The bus was as local as they come besides the bus being filled solely with locals themselves with everything feeling loose. The bus rattled and shook more prevalently over each crumbling stretch of the one highway/road that Laos can barely stand proudly over. The rest stops were even more local since we never stopped at an actual truck/bus stop for a restroom break. Each time, we pulled off to the side of the road so that both men and women could take care of their business within the barely shrouded protection of the bush and woods. At roughly one o’clock in the hot afternoon in a stretch of day and time that seemed to be continuing infinitely despite my need for one brief moment of rest and breath, I arrived to the Thakhek bus station. Out of pure stubbornness and my need to at long last stretch my legs, I chose to skirt all the awaiting, burgeoning tuk-tuk drivers and walk myself into town for a place to stay the night. What an awful, mind, body, and spirit shattering decision that was. The sun was at its highest and strongest while I walked at a snail’s pace in my weakest, most forgiving state ready at any moment to keel over into a ditch under the weight of my pack and my own clothing now beyond fully immersed in sweat and let Asia chew away at whatever bits remained of me. I forged on with whatever last breath I had left to give and eventually found a place that I could call home offering the miraculous amenity of air-con. In all I may have walked five or seven kilometers but I would rather not reimagine the pain experienced in full detail like the revolving cycle of pain that it had happens to be etched into my brain. After passing out still sweaty yet too tired to be bothered to wash myself before delving into the depths of a nap, I summoned the strength to find a motorbike willing enough to be called a proper steed for my expected six day journey through the wilderness of Laos. After enough test riding and using whatever knowledge I picked up from Vietnam, I got my rented motorbike almost as new as can be with 5,000 kilometers registered onto the odometer. To conclude the evening, I got some street food at the centralized square along the river that separates Laos and Thailand (a sad representation of spicy papaya salad with a chicken skewer and sticky rice) before packing up everything early in preparation for an early start tomorrow that may nearly cover the full spectrum of the sun’s glow upon me.
Now in Laos Day 205: My Breaking Point