It’s been a fun 58 hours. Last night, late, I posted my daytime photo walking tour of Vientiane, the Laos capitol. I received a message today from the tour company that it was kindly processing me a refund for the tour I didn’t take because of my travel difficulties. Money saved and I still saw plenty with my sneaker power. And the booking for the hotel in question was never paid, just reserved. So good on that one, too.
I noticed when I returned from my walk that it looked like they were setting up for a night market across the street from my hotel. Cool. Photos. But it was still early and I needed two things – lunch and a massage. And then maybe a nap.
Almost back to my hotel I found a Vietnamese restaurant I had passed earlier. First a beer after the long walk (they only had one kind, a Thai brand, but it was cold so who cares?), and then some duck in a traditional Hanoi sauce (whatever that is), rice and some salad. The restaurant was quiet, with only me as a customer until an older couple came in. They were French.
The streets here, BTW, often begin with the word Rue, followed by a Laotian word. And one of their main attractions, Pataxuy, is a French knockoff.
During my walk I also passed a number of massage parlors but picked out one for no particular reason and returned there after lunch. All the girls were seemingly from the same gene pool, short, a bit stocky, but ….
There was some discussion as to who would have the privilege of working my body over, I almost thought no one wanted the job. Finally, I was ushered to the third floor, which had a large open room with drop-down curtains for privacy. Anyway, let me tell you. The Lao traditional massage is painful. But effective. My masseuse was quite surprised by my tip but the darn one hour only cost $6.
Later, I waited until well after dark to venture to the street bazaar below with my camera. This was a very linear thing, stretching for several blocks single file, with a couple of branches spiking out, but mostly one straight line of stalls. Interestingly, no one was selling baseball caps with Laos emblems, which was what I was looking for. I had already purchased a logoed shirt at the Arc that morning. But the stroll was good for a few shots.
I tried some of the street food but was not impressed. I selected three different chicken satays and none were any good. A pork satay had promise but it was mostly fat. So I still needed dinner, and I was primed to find some partying.
Alas, I think the schedule finally hit me. I managed to find the restaurant I ate in the night before but was barely able to secure a seat at a counter. A large bowl of noodles and chicken later and I headed back to the hotel. Another travel day tomorrow.
For a change, everything went smoothly today. Needed the good coffee in the morning and then hopped on a tuk-tuk to the airport (250,000 kip). Had to wait for check-in and then a 2-hour wait for takeoff. The 737 was jammed. I discovered that my shoulders were wider than their seat widths. Only a 1-hour flight, although the landing was not fun.
Bangkok’s immigration has been insane every time I’ve been through, and today was no exception. They had a lot of inspectors working, however, and was processed in 30 minutes. As I discovered the last time through, they don’t check your baggage when you leave, you just walk out.
In Hua Hin, I had managed to book the luxury bus for the trip back – 259 baht ($7.50) for the 200-kilometer trip. I checked in at gate 8 on the first floor and set up my laptop because I had a 2-hour wait. Fortunately, there was a food court right next to the gate, where I had some noodles and barbecue pork. I can remember when I never would have thought I’d ever be able to eat noodles with chopsticks. Hah!
The bus was amazing. It has 24 really nice seats. They recline but you really don’t need to, and if you did, there is plenty of space behind you. Really very comfortable and spacious. I had one in the row of single seats. Seats are assigned. The best way to get back and forth Hua Hin-Bangkok that I’ve seen.
We did embark at rush hour in Bangkok, so it took some time to hit the open road, but once there the driver was determined to make up for lost time. Ever try to use the toilet on a rocking and rolling bus? We arrived about a half hour off schedule, which meant it was too late for me to catch the cheap taxi home. There were other taxis waiting.
Here you go: