Donate Button



Donate today BECAUSE Logan will use it to visit the USA in 2017!

Friday, November 18, 2011

ESCAPE FROM LAOS

ESCAPE FROM LAOS

On the bus to Vientiene, the capital of Lao. It's about a ten hour trip so I might be there by 7PM. [Note, it was actually twelve hours.] That's after I'd like to arrive but the overnight bus was full. During the trip, I don't think the bus went above forty KPH. The roads were of the twisting, hair pin turn, narrow variety. There are no shoulders, just the jungle pushing in against the sides. The road itself passed through many small villages adding to the obstacles and mobile road hazards. Children, people riding scooters (sans protection of any sort) and livestock are just some of the wonders that can be found. They call the bus I am on a VIP bus. It is different from other buses in this country as it is slightly less dirty, much more expensive and they give you a small bottle of complimentary water. There is no air conditioning and the bus has a unique and unfortunately memorable smell. Despite claims that the VIP bus is faster, it makes stops for random people. I sat next to a French girl whose name is also memorable in my mispronouncation as 'Orally'. I did my best to keep the smile from my face.

We arrived in the city of Vientiene. It appeared that the bus station was closed. There wasn't any traffic going to or from it to the actual town which was some distance away. I let myself get sucked along with the tourists - the only ones to pay the higher price of the 'VIP bus' like a leaf in a stream. The crowd went over to a waiting set of tuk-tuks. Knew the price would be high as the tuk-tuks had a complete monopoly on transport. In Lao, there are no taxis nor 'baht buses'. I regard the lack of something akin to the 'baht buses' as a huge 'fail' on the part of the Lao tourist set up. Or for the local populace.

Rather than the usual custom of letting the passengers split a fixed fare, the tuk tuk drivers merely charged everyone 20,000 KIP. Considering you can probably get one for that total, it was pretty extortionistic. I went with it though because - acording to the other tourists, it was five kilometers into town.

So, I climbed onto the tuk tuk. It was the kind of trip I tried to keep my mouth open partially during as we kept going over the kind of bumps that caused my teeth to gnash together. Fuck needing dental work, better to keep the mouth a bit open. Tuk tuks don't have shock absorbers or if they do they gave up the ghost back in the 1970's and have been hard done by since.

Part way through the trip, the tuk tuk driver pulled over in order to come back and demand the fare from all of the passengers. I asked someone who was experienced in Lao (had been here for 3+ months) what was up with that. Apparently, tourists sometimes run off to avoid paying the two or three dollars. Wowza. I'd love nothing better than to have an angry Lao national trying to chase me down and beat me over three dollars.

We eventually got to a place the experienced Lao tourist recommended for guest houses. It was two blocks of lots of different guest houses. The first fifteen (yes, fifteen) I tried were either full or the owner was taking crack when figuring out what prices he'd charge. I continued my search. From what I'd read on wiki travel, they said it was best to arrive in Vientiene early as the guest houses would fill up by nightfall. This tells me that there must be some sort of government regulation or heavy taxation on the building of new guest houses. Otherwise, they tend to get built until they have quite a few extra and this helps bring down the price.

Through a bit of luck and persistance, I eventually found a fairly dumpy place for 80,000 KIP.

After walking more blocks of Vientiene than I cared to with the pack, I determined it seemed to be a larger version of Luang Prabang. Both places didn't seem to have a lot in the way of 'personality' in them. I considered heading out in the morning for another very long bus ride to the south of the country (to Pakse) rather than fighting with the masses of tourists over the few inexpensive places to stay in a town that looked like the same crap I'd already seen elsewhere. Despite my fatigue after a twelve hour bus ride, I'm thinking I'd like to get the fuck out of Laos. It's not substantially cheaper than Thailand to live in. If you aren't going on the tourist rides (which I'm not - still very short of cash, especially after my last robbery) Laos isn't very interesting either. I don't want to go snap some pictures of the waterfall and swim about while someone has the ability to steal my stuff I've had to leave on the shore.

From what I've read on the internet (when I've had access to it) you can easily get a three month visa for Cambodia. Also, 'shitty pay' (six dollars an hour) teaching jobs are supposedly easy to come by. Assuming the prices in Cambodia are like those in Lao and Thailand, that means I could work for three or four hours a day and have my expenses met. That would allow me to save up money for several months to get out of the critical funds zone. If I decide I enjoy teaching and want to move up my rate of pay, I can look into getting the online TEFL certificate for $200. Now, some people out there (usually ones with English degrees) like to decry people teaching English who have no certificates and such. I say that there English is so horrible that I could work on just pronounciation and basic vocabulary (as could anyone) and that would be a huge help to them. They don't need to know what a subjective clause (did I just make that up?) is - they need to know how to tell the difference between the letters 'L' and 'R'. They need to move from 'Where from?' to 'Where are you from?' It's not rocket science. The native teachers of English have such bad English I have great difficulty understanding them. I don't know what their students are learning but it is probably not good. I know I can do better than that. Even if I spent three weeks on the use of the word 'fuck' it would be a huge improvement for them. Yes, it is really that bad. [Note, if someone reading this has a degree in English and isn't bound to the states by family or sedimentality, I'd suggest looking into overseas teaching.]

Despite my wanting to get more quickly to Cambodia to try to make some money, I figured if Pakse (southern Lao town) was interesting and cheap, I could wind out some more time on my visa. [Note, it is not - spent two days wandering around there and I'm really looking forward to moving on.] Although a big part of me wishes I had gone straight from Pattaya to Cambodia, there is some part of me that is glad I've got Laos crossed off my list of places I have any desire to go. Ever.

Looking back on my time in Asia, thus far the nicest place I've stayed lodging wise was in Pattaya at the property owned by Canterbury Tales bookshop. Aside from being professionally robbed there, it was nice.

After a night of pondering and sleeping in the capital, I went to visit a travel agent I'd seen on the previous night. Like other travel agents in Laos, the deal always seems to get worse the next day you go to see them. No, it wouldn't be my own bed for the price we talked about yesterday - add sixty percent for that. I said "See ya" and left. I've noticed that when I get pissed I say "See ya" to people when I am leaving. I think it comes from my childhood when the kids rhyme was 'see ya, wouldn't want ta be ya' was popular. Fortunately, I leave off the last part.

So I went to the bus station to get a ticket.

When you go to see a tuk tuk driver about a normal destination (like a bus station) they often enjoy pulling out a laminated piece of paper with various prices on it for different destination. This is called the 'are you stupid enough to pay these prices I've made up when I was in a fantasy world' paper. The prices are generally 30-300% higher than what they'll take you for. In this case, I was in somewhat of a hurry so I negotiated the driver down from 60,000 KIP to 40,000 KIP.

From my limited experience at the time of actually writing all of this stuff down, avoiding travel agents in this country seems to be a 'win'. They change the deals or the deal gets worse. You don't seem to spend a whole bunch more by using them as opposed to the bus station directly, but I have 'trust issues' with these jokers.

Lao buses leave early in the morning - even if they aren't going all that far. They don't seem to have the 'running every hour or two' schedule down either. You need to haul your ass out of bed early if you want to go anywhere. Fortunately, I was up with plenty of time to spare.

I bought a ticket for the 'non-VIP bus'. It was pretty fucked up. Like the VIP bus, it said "King of Bus" on the front (more bad English) but I don't think it would have rated even as the 'court jester of bus'. No tourists on it as they'd all been routed to more expensive buses. They tried to scare me away from this bus by telling me that it made lots and lots of stops. Initially, this did turn out to be true but after the first few hours of the ride they just pressed on as best they could. I did ask after the VIP bus but managed to get the answer "No have."

Naturally, the bus was extremely full at the outset of the trip. After say halfway through the trip you can look for your own seat if you are so inclined.

The local buses stop for local merchants to get on and attempt to sell shit. I am not kidding. We stopped and twenty people all got on yammering and trying to sell their wares. As these weren't the sort of people who had even rudementary enough English to deal with tourists, I was ignored. Sometimes, the bus driver would just sit there and wait for the people who were selling shit to get on then back off again. Sometimes, the driver at these stops would get off the bus and disappear for awhile. I have no clue where he went or why. Most of what was for sale was food stuffs but other things were also sold. Stuff that you'd think people could just pick up elsewhere. Sometimes the bus would stop so the driver could get out and take a leak on the side of the road. There was no bathroom on this reject from the 1970's bus.

Because spending twelve hours stuffed in with other people, strange odors, uncomfortable seating and slamming over potholes and swerving around things wasn't considered enough torture to make you not ever want to ride the bus again, they also decided to put on the TV with various DVD's. Despite my trying to listen to my audio books with the sound nearly maxed (or maxed) to drown out this crap, I got to listen to more Lao music and watch more of the lame dancing than I ever wanted to see. The closest dance form we have to this in the USA is 'line dancing'. This is just about as lame. The look and feel of the videos is the bad stuff that was hopefully left in the 1980's. Well, I suppose it is newer than the bus. After softening us up with several discs of music that made me want to dismember animals messily, they put on some movies. Being that the movies were made in America they were of significantly better quality. Unfortunately, they had the worst dubbing I'd ever seen. They couldn't even make the sound effects they had to add line up to the action you'd see taking place on the screen. The sounds preceeded the action by a couple seconds. It made me want to bite the heads off of whippets. Because this didn't make the movies unwatchable enough, they also blurred out anything sexual or violent. Blurring out any bare chested females I could understand, America had this same taboo (sad) but they would also blur out some of the weapons. It make it a bit more confusing if you couldn't figure out someone was pointing a gun at someone else. Of course, children could easily figure it out. Due to the slipshod work, not all of the weapons were edited out. It was pretty sad.

After it got dark, the driver alternated between nodding off and attempting to watch the movie. He would continually attempt to move the TV (which was made not to be able to be moved) so that he could see it instead of bothering to watch the twisting obstacle filled road.

To my surprise, we didn't collide with other vehicles, people on scooters who weren't giving any thoughts to their personal safety (sometimes running on dark roads without headlights), livestock or unsupervised children. I was pretty out of it by the time we arrived in Pakse - enough so to listen to someone I shouldn't.

There was some guy who was helping to offload some of the cargo on the bus. He did the 'Where go?' which is "Where are you going?" for those who don't speak English. I told him Pakse and he managed to convince me the deserted (of people, not of buildings) stretch of road I was at was indeed Pakse. I dismounted and got my pack. It was one AM. It turned out this guy was a horrible tuk tuk driver looking for me to be his walking ATM. I felt like a complete noob. After the bus left, I convinced him I'd rather walk than give him any money. I then went and found locals and questioned them (via sign language) as to the location of guest houses or other places to sleep. After going to a couple "I can't believe you're charging that much money to sleep in a dump like this" places, I managed to find one that was only nominally wretched. For 50,000 KIP, I could have a 'fan room' with no hot water. For 70,000 KIP, I could get a room with air conditioning and hot water. I decided I could pay an extra $2.50 for a hot shower in the morning. I checked out the room but in my extremely tired state, I forgot to check on the hot water. There wasn't any. The machine on the wall absolutely failed to work. Super. The only good thing about the place is that I was able to get a cold Lao beer after ten PM when Lao pretty much closes.

Fortunately, I found that the place I'd been talked into leaving the bus at was only one KM away from the actual town center. Had I stayed with the bus, I'd have been much further away. I forgave the horrible tuk tuk driver and left off my fruitless vengence fantasies.



WELCOME TO PAKSE, BITCH

Like the rest of Laos, there are a ton of French speakers here. Whether they are from France or that odd part of Canada they come here. Nowhere else in the world have I encountered as much French. I'm not sure how many of the Laos people actually speak any French but I know that it is no longer (widely) taught in the schools here. I'm not sure where the French speakers will vacation after the older generation here dies out.

I was thinking about something Adam (my mentor) said. He said that I seemed to enjoy sitting around and talking to expats more than the locals. Upon continuing reflection, I don't believe this to be the case. I enjoy sitting around and talking to people I can actually communicate on something other than a 'Me buy this' level with. There are plenty of French speakers here who don't speak much more English than the Laos people and I have no desire to try to strike up a conversation with them. If I can communicate decently with the people (in English or German) I am happy to sit around and talk to them for a long time. That is why in Ukraine I would set up meetings via 'couch surfing' daily.

The next day, I found a decent place for 60,000 KIP. It is lacking in any sort of real (or at least illusionary) security and internet. I like places with the internet because I can get hold of more entertainment stuff and I like security after getting robbed twice. If this place had better security and internet within the rooms (so I can leave the computer downloading while I sleep) I'd probably spend several days here. Since it doesn't, I'm only spending two days wandering the city. On the good side, this is the first place I've stayed in Laos that actually insisted upon seeing my passport as opposed to allowing me to 'be creative' in filling out their documents.

As far as tourists here go, there are a lot more couples. They are usually either in the 'self absorbed' or 'smug' category as they look around and figure out why their own culture is superior to the one they have traveled thousands of miles to put down. They wander around endlessly looking at Lonely Planet guide books to make sure they can cross everything off of the list. They dart out, take a picture of a sunset and dart off somewhere else to do something else. I got to see the latter while I was sitting around on the forth floor balcony/porch typing up this blog on notepad (no internet). Some girl who had no curiousity, no conversation and no interest in the nifty view other than standing there long enough to get a picture and retreat quickly. Interesting way to do a vacation but I suppose a lot of weird stuff can go on when you're pressed for time.

Within other parts of Laos I've been in, as well as Thailand, they have a specific design for the tuk tuks. The tuk tuk is made from a motorcycle attached to a cart it pulls behind it. The cart has a metal or plastic roof over it. For children and contortionists, I'm sure it is a wonderful way to see the city. For those of us who aren't midgets (or 'little people') all of the views are blocked off by the low hanging roof. Many times, you will also get the opportunity to repeatedly bash your head against it. In Pakse, they have a different style of tuk tuk I've never seen before. Rather than pulling the passengers behind it, here they sit to one side of the driver in the manner of a side car. It is a mind bogglingly dangerous side car as there is nothing at all to keep you in it should you hit anything. You have pretty much a straight shot out of it and from there, physics take over and you go squeesh. On the upside, you do get to see a lot more of the sights. I took one to go to the bus station to check prices and I will be attempting to survive the ride in one tomorrow to go to the bus station again to leave Laos.

Yesterday, I had gone to a travel agent to find out how much a ticket to a town next to the border cost. I was quoted 70,000 KIP - a price that was confirmed by the bus station. Today, I decided I should get the ticket so I went back there. A man I'm guessing is French was working there. He is probably the owner. He denied that the destination I had spoken to the young man sitting next to him was available. The young man kept his head down, probably because he enjoyed being employed there, possibly because his English was bad enough he wasn't following the conversation. Since the destination wasn't available would I be interested in traveling an additional half an hour for double the price I was quoted yesterday? To see if he could either suggest a different destination or to see if there was a potential of bargaining, I asked if a "more economical" way to Cambodia was possible? "Swim!" he told me giving a laugh to his own joke. Nobody else laughed. I gave him my big "Well, fuck you very much!" smile, thanked him and left. I will just go to the bus station instead. It is always interesting in the vast majority of the countries I've been to how giving good service doesn't seem related to either staying in business, keeping ones job or even turning a profit.

After walking the town for a few hours (and finally getting a shave), I decided to spend the rest of the day lounging around. I figured I could listen to some audio books.

The last night I was in Laos, a wandering prostitute came to my door. I closed it it with a firm 'no thank you'. If I had a peep hole, I could have done the line from Johnny Mnemonic "If you're not expected then you're not invited so fuck off, OK?"



THE CRAZY MAN

Every now and then, I am found by mentally handicapped people who wander the streets in some of the countries I've visited. They enjoy babbling at me in their native language despite my protestations that I can't understand what the hell they are saying and my indications that my happiness increases with their increased distance from me. This happened here in Pakse, Laos. There don't seem to be any homeless or beggars here (the upside of communism) while everyone is instead kept at a uniform level of poverty.

I'm sitting in front of my hotel whiling away the time and some guy came up and sat down. At first he babbled in Lao at me until it sank into his slow brain that I didn't have a clue what he was saying. Mind you, I'm not saying he walked up and said a couple of sentences. I'm talking about long paragraphs. After his verbal diahrea subsided he kept looking at me like I owed him child support. The first ten times he did, I kept giving him my vacant open mouthed 'goofy grin'. Usually, people get the hint and leave me alone. He didn't. Eventually, I said "What?" in a rather loud voice with accompaning hand gestures. The crazy man departed to lurk at a grocery store across the street and keep an eye on me from there.

One of the tuk tuk drivers who was staking out the hotel looking for money then caught my attention and made the universal signs for 'hey, that guy is a crazy person'. I nodded my thanks.

Eventually, I decided it was time to go to a restaurant. The restaurant is only about 20m away from the grocery store the crazy man was staking out. He followed me to the restaurant. By use of loud and unfriendly tones (which the Lao don't like) and hand gestures, I indicated that I did not appreciate him following me. He gave me a couple rapid paragraphs of what was probably insults in Lao before wandering off.

I'm glad that I'm not in this town for long. I know that I probably caused the local insane assylum escapee to lose face and I don't want to be looking over my shoulder for him to try to get his 'face' back by attacking me.



CAMBODIA, HO!

From what I've learned by talking to people, Veunkham is a town in Laos near the border. On the Cambodian side, it is about 25 KM to a town. I'll probably have to get ripped off by a taxi or dreaded tuk tuk on that side.

We'll see what it's like when I get there but for now I'm happy to be getting out of where I am.



SLEEPER BUSES

After sampling the roads here, I'm glad I didn't invest the money into a 'sleeper bus. The roads are either windey as hell or bumpy as hell. Trying to lie in either an enlarged seat or a full out bed while you're getting continually bashed and shaken doesn't really strike me as the kind of thing many people can sleep through.

Also, when you inquire about sleeper buses price, ask if this is for your own bed or if you'll be sharing it with a stranger. The price I was quoted was over fifty percent more for my own bed. I really didn't feel like sharing a bed with someone who would be continually, forcably rolled into me during the journey.



OVERALL IMPRESSION OF LAOS

Thus far, I'm thinking that Laos is the "Moldova of Asia". People go to Lao because they read that it is untapped by tourists. This is a lie/marketing. In all of the areas that have stuff worth seeing, tourists are thick on the ground. The infrastructure is 'developing' which means that although you'll get a place to stay it won't usually be that nice nor have internet - unless you want to slap down a lot more money than I can afford.

On the upside, Lao beer (named "Beerlao" - I'm not joking) is much better than the stuff served in Thailand and half or less price.

Some people (I am thinking of Adam here) might feel that I am going to be screwed in Cambodia because it may well end up being the same crap as in Laos. I am feeling that this will not be the case and here is why. Sex and visas. To elaborate - in Laos, if you are accused of having 'carnal relations' (or going to have carnal relations) with a Laos woman, both you and she get to be 'guests of the country of Laos' (ie jail) for a good long time. If you are even caught riding around in the same vehicle with a Laos woman, you might even get to go directly to jail for this. I suspect these rather draconian rules were put into place to keep the sex trade to 'non-existant' here. It works. I haven't yet met anyone who had any desire to retire here. Lets face it - old men enjoy the company of pretty young women and have the money to pay for that company. So, they end up making those countries their retirement homes. When that happens, you get a lot more people living in the area who would qualify as 'expats'. For me, that is a good thing as I see the 'expat community' as a source of information to tap into. The internet doesn't seem to really give you the good/interesting/easy to get jobs with teaching unless you have degrees and such. The vast majority of the stuff on the internet is either outdated or trying to sell you something. Hence, to find the jobs, I need to tap into the expat community. To get an expat community, the government has to be OK with their young women renting out their bodies. As to the visas, you get thirty days in Laos. More is rough to get and it appears that the visas - like many other things - are complicated and such. Cambodia you get a 90 day visa for a land crossing. And it's easily extendable. These two factors - as well as things I've read on the internet - lead me to believe it should be easier trying to get teaching jobs (and possibly other work) in Cambodia than Laos. I'd like to build up my funds so that come summer (or possibly next summer if I get involved) I can afford to go traveling some more. Naturally, it could turn out that I am very wrong and all of my plans will again go into the waste basket.



GAY SCENE AND CULTURE IN LAOS

Laos is surprisingly accepting of gays. I say surprising due to the illegality of sex with their local women. I suspect that would apply to woman on woman action as well. The only homosexuals I've seen thus far are women. Even in Amsterdam I don't recall seeing a lot of men holding hands or staring lovingly into each others eyes. Here, I've seen perhaps five pair of women holding hands. What is interesting is that they look at me either with definance or somewhat guiltily. I give them my best 'like I care' look regardless. I don't roll my eyes to emphasize it as they may get the wrong idea that I am judging them as opposed to totally not giving a shit. Either way, there are several things that are culturally frowned on in Laos that I am personally in favor of. First, there are no PDA's. Public Display of Affection. Sitting around making out and such. My opinion has always been two fold - first, if I'm not getting any, why do I need to be subjected to people who obviously are? Second, if I want to see a bit of naughty, the primary purpose of the internet has always been to provide people with lots and lots of porn. I don't need to see it walking down the street. The other thing that is against the culture here is skin. Men are expected to wear a shirt at all times. People from the Republic of Georgia who come on vacation here, beware! You will probably get hostility from the natives and possibly a ticket from the police going around exposing your belly. I like that about the Laos culture. If I never have to look at another man's belly again from now till the day I die, I'd consider that a victory. Likewise, women are not permitted to wear bikini tops. I can totally live with that. Most of the women I've seen wearing the revealing clothing they do are not models and should lose many kilos before dressing like that. There should be a weight limit and body fat limit before showing that kind of skin for either sex.



PHILOSOPHY

I can't speak for other people but I know that when Americans read that some other culture has a 'laid back lifestyle' their thoughts don't really go for much to do with reality. They are imagining themselves in a 'laid back lifestyle', taking it easy and having a nice time. They certainly do not imagine the people who they are paying to provide happiness and ambiance for them having this 'laid back lifestyle'. What 'laid back lifestyle' has begun to mean to me is 'lazy and incompetent'. Now, granted, I've only been in a couple of cultures that seem to advertise this but it's what I'm getting when I go into a hotel room and find things like it hasn't been cleaned, or hasn't been cleaned so that you'd notice. Or that the complimentary water is half gone. Yes, some wit can say "Or the water bottle is half full." Fuck you. You go drink from the bottle that someone who may have had gods know what diseases backwashing into it and you tell me it is half full. In short, when I read that a people have a 'laid back lifestyle', it is not really a selling point I look for. I'd rather hear about the 'hard working' people. Unfortunately, the only ones I know of who that label is routinely applied to are the Germans. If I went to a German guest house and reported my room wasn't clean, within an hour, I'd expect someone to be up there mucking it out as opposed to a smile and a shrug. Academic, sadly, as I can't afford Germany.

I've always been confused by the people who listen to nothing but music when audio books are available. Some people claim they have insufficient concentration for doing something like driving while listening to an audio book. I feel sorry for those people.



BOOK REVIEWS

I'm again re-listening to Roger Zelaznies' Amber series. I've heard these several times in the past and even run a campaign based on them which some of the players still remember. I'm not sure if they remember it with happy feelings because it was one in which they managed to literally destroy the universe because they made a four AM decision. Desisions made during sleep deprivation are never happy ones.

Running a prolongued campaign based on this would be very interesting indeed.

Anyway, if you've never read this series, it is one I very much enjoy. In the shadier places on the internet, you can even find the audio books. Several (but not all that I've found) are read by the author and I think he does a good job at it. Hell, I even corresponded with him a little back when he was alive. (No, I don't have the letters any more - I live out of a fucking backpack). To tell a little bit about the books, they can be loosely grouped into the 'urban fantasy' category that I love so much. The only downside of these otherwise excellent books is twofold. First, whenever someone asks someone else for information, they are inevitably put off. "I'll tell you later" and so on. It is part of the overall theme that knowledge is power and everyone wants it. The second is that a huge chunk of the books seem to be people sitting around and speculating about what the hell is going on. These problems really didn't show up for me until after I had read them a couple of times and knew what was going onl.



TRAVELER'S TIPS

Never believe anything a tuk tuk driver says about anything. Their only concern is getting you into their vehicle to take your money. If you ask them how far something is that is say 500 meters away, it will become as long of walk as they think is needed to get you into their vehicle. In fact, until you judge you need them, it is best to totally ignore (politely if possible) all tuk tuk drivers. I do this by having headphones in my ears. If they show they are upset by me ignoring them, I can always pull out the headphones and claim I couldn't hear them. If you are going down the street to a grocery store say 10m away, you will be beset by tuk tuk drivers trying to get you a ride. They don't seem to realize (or care) that if you wanted a ride you'd come to them.

Unlike about every where else in the world I've been thus far, the capital of Lao is more expensive than the outlying towns. The locals fail to understand why this is unusual.

If you're in a place that charges laundry by the piece, you either can afford too much money for stuff or you're in the wrong place. You want to get to a place that either charges by the load or by the kilo.



PRICES

Dorm in Aya Guesthouse, 40,000 KIP. Note that I've found dorms for 10,000 - 20,000 so this seems like a huge cost for a dorm. I didn't stay there.

Vientiene to Pakse bus. They claim it is only ten hours (it's not - twelve or longer), approximately 120,000 KIP.

In general, the prices of lodging is a bit cheaper than Thailand, food is substantially more expensive. Alcohol is about half price. The food isn't as good here as in Thailand. You can't do much in the way of negotiation with Laos people. In other countries (especially when the place is owned by a 'good ole boy' expat) there is room for negotiation for lodging. Here, you can usually knock off say 10,000 KIP if you are staying multiple days and such. Unfortunately, in USD, that is approximately nothing.

Sleeper bus from Vientiene (capital city of Laos) to Pakse (southern city in Laos), 165,000. Note, for this price you'll be sharing your bed with someone who may be a stranger and getting bumped into them and jounced about on a continuous and ongoing basis. Add fifty percent or more to the price to get shaken to death in your own bed.

Suspicious meat on a stick that looked a bit like a hotdog but had inedible bits on it as well as some sort of drink that tasted like a cross between cough syrup and soda, 7,000 KIP.

Use of a disgusting bathroom with a big ole turd left in it, 1000 KIP.

Shave at a place tourists haven't found, 10,000 KIP. Actually gave her a 5000 KIP tip as she did a decent job.

Pakse to Veunkham (town on the border with Cambodia), 70,000 KIP, about two hours of travel time.

Tuk tuk to the bus station (about 1KM away), 10,000 KIP (after bargaining down from 30,000 KIP).

Laundry - ranges between 8000 KIP (good price) to 10,000 KIP (normal price) on up.

Lao beer (named 'Beerlao'), 640 ML, 8000 - 10,000 KIP, depending on where you buy it. [Note for Chris C., it is like but not quite a 'forty'. Although it is legal in Laos to drink beer on the sidewalk, if you can find a brown paper bag to put it into (I can't, bring your own bags) you can pretend you are in America.]

1 comment:

  1. THE BE ALL END ALL 4AM gaming decision.... We all do some heroic shit and awesome actions to get to this point. we all look at each other around the table. We all have a small smile and a smirk on our faces as we are about to face our main bad guy once and for all. We give the PC with the object of power the "nod." He then hands off to the main bad guy the critical object to the bad guy and we all stare horrified as Logan tells us how the world ends. Even with the furious cardplay and hasting used to stop the action of Cpt. Cephalopod, it was of no use... Still have fond memories of the campaign, even though PoS for milk crates then later PoS for money corrupted some of the players. It was One of the best.

    ReplyDelete

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan | Portugal: Faro

For videos with a Loganesque slant, be sure to visit here. You can also Facebook Logan.

If you enjoy this blog, please donate! Help Logan keep on traveling.