We were picked up at the hotel for the bus station a few kms out of town. It was a decent bus; filled with westerners; but only natural air con from the open windows. There was little to say about the first part bus trip; other than the weather was nice and the country rolling, with occasional neat small towns and villages.
That is the most notable thing about Laos. It is such a clean and tidy country. Even the Rough shacks of the poor farmers had a sense of pride in their houses. Rubbish is rarely seen; even in the cities and towns. The thatched walls and roofs are neat; thought some of the villages have rough rusty tin roofs which contrast with the bright tiles on the many new villas.
We had a half hour lunch stop and a simple café and continued towards steadily higher ground. Impressive blue hazed peaks came into view as we steadily climbed towards Vang Vieng. The country was very beautiful from the high viewpoints along the road. We passed through a Number of neat wooden villages before our descent, approximately 4 hours from Vientiane.
We passed under a huge industrial complex and a few minutes later; were driving across a airfield runway. The views of the mountains was stupendous! We pulled into a guest house grounds. It looked pretty neat but I declined the offer of a room. There was no real pressure to stay there; but they did give out well designed flyers on the bus.
The Maylyn Guest house looked to be an interesting choice; being just out of town in a garden setting. It was a hot walk An Australian gave direction and told us the bamboo bridge was down and to look out for the new one further along the road. The new suspension bridge has a 2000k charge for Foreigners. It seemed a lot just to walk over the bridge; but there was no choice. The Maylene was in an idyllic village location well away from the TV bars of the town.
The neat rattan walled bungalows were scattered randomly amongst the palm trees and tropical plants. The incredible backdrop of limestone peaks just takes your breath away. A maze of pathways meandered through the gardens and back to the reception and thatched dining area. It was 40.000 kip per night. At $4 its incredible value.
J and I had a really good and filling meal for 1 ½ dollars then planned to take a walk. The music being played really took me back in time. Ska And reggae of the Seventies; Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff etc. While J finished his second huge portion of lunch; I took a walk around to immerse my self in this tropical paradise.
Paradise ended with a meeting with the owner Joe, an Irishman of around 60 I guess. I made the first mistake of asking him how he was.
" I'm foking bad today; picked up something from the wife's family. I'm grumpy when I'm Ill. I hate being Ill;. "
"Cant you see a doctor"
"I don't see Foking doctors here their crap and the bastards don't know foking anything .
" What are the hospitals like here?
"There are no fookin hospitals here. last time I went to Hospital I had to go the bloody Thailand and cost me fokin 2 grand i I'll bloody die here I know it"
I just about resisted the temptation to say "This is a very nice place to die" and tried to lighten the conversation and change the subject.
"This is a great place you have; You have made a real Paradise here!
"Paradise! Don't talk to me about paradise; tourists; foking come here for 3 bloody days and think this is paradise; You don't have to bloody live here"
I proceeded to explain that I did live out here; Cambodia anyway which sparked of the following response.
"I've got a to put up with a new foking girl starting here. She's bloody useless foking ugly but because she's my foking wife's second cousin I have to put up with the ugly c**t . I don't have any foking control here any more"
The conversation continued in this way discussing the whya and wherfores of running a business in SE Asia gradually Joes language toning down although he was having a whinge of just about everything before I realised time was getting on and left.
I don't know why but somehow I sort of had some sympathy for the miserable old bastard. I just don't meet the likes of him very often.
The afternoon ws spent having an idylic walk truogh rice filds to a the spectacular mountais and a vist to a small cave complex. We were cgarded 2000kip each for entry and were given a lampo to enter the cave, the cave took half an hour or so, The sunset was spectacuar