pieterneele | 15 February, 2015 04:58
A series of trips over the past two years. Lost count. From my pied à terre in Luang Prabang to Bangkok. To catch a cheap Air Asia flight to China or a plane to Holland, or to move on elsewhere in Southeast Asia or meet friends in Bangkok.
It can be done within 24 hours now that the international bus from Luang Prabang to Loei is running – leaving at 8.00 am, changing to a night bus in Loei and getting to Bangkok by 5.30 am. But usually I break the trip in Loei, staying in the same hotel each time, cheap and adequate. Within walking distance from the bus station if I have packed lightly. Which mostly I haven’t. The chargers alone, for laptop, smartphone, spare phone, camera, electric toothbrush, and all the equipment they serve.
Along the way in Laos I watch the Mekong from the bridge near Xayaboury, and further on the train of concrete trucks from Thailand heading to the construction site of the dam in the river. I order fried rice for lunch from the boy in the bus who calls ahead so that food is prepared when the bus pulls in at the restaurant. I see the small town of Paklay where one had to stay overnight when the international bus wasn’t yet running. From here it took five different songthaews and tuktuks to cover the final 100 kilometers to Loei – fun breezy rides. And I see the village of Nam Xong where Y. lived, in the alley behind the temple on the bank of the Mekong. She lives in Thailand now and after crossing the border and having changed to Thai sim I’m tempted to call.
A few familiar faces among the officials of Lao immigration, and to some of them I am a familiar face too. No pleasantries at the Thai side, no unpleasantries either, while customs check luggage.
I usually sleep on the night bus to Bangkok. Upon arrival at Mochit bus station, too early to go anywhere, I have a long morning coffee, same stall each time. Then make my way to the Nouvo City Hotel, New World Lodge before and New World House before that, and I am happy to meet the long-time staff I have known for many years, some over two decades.