after another restless night fighting mosquitoes (i had the fan on high, the air conditioner turned to max, sprayed the perimeter of the poorly insulated door with bug repellent, and hid underneath the blanket except for my feet), i woke up at 5:30 in the morning to catch a tuk tuk to the bus station. it was mostly laotians, nary a foreign face in sight. my bus didn't leave until 7AM with only about a dozen passengers, so that meant frequent stops through the 8 hrs trip to pick up more people along the way. i didn't mind, got used to that since arriving in cambodia, and there were enough seats for everyone, so everybody was happy. i heard amazing things about the scenery and i tried very hard to stay awake, but most of the time i was asleep, too tired, too hungry. after vang vieng it was one long winding trip through impressive looking limestone mountains. a tv on the bus played non-stop loatian karoake videos - i had my earplugs on fortunately.

before we left the station i saw the driver burning incense in the front of the bus, and at one point during the journey, who actually stopped by a roadside shrine to ask for luck i suppose. in the past there's been some banditry on this street of road, and people have been killed. although we didn't encounter any bandits, our driver drove so fast on tiny mountain paths that i had to close my eyes a few times. at one point we had some mysterious mechanical problems and the driver stopped the bus to take a look out back. he never engaged the emergency break, and soon the back was slowly sliding backwards down the mountain. everyone on the bus screamed and ran outside. my brain wasn't quick enough to process the danger, and i stood in the back of the bus, waiting to see what would happen. besides, i couldn't easily get out anyway, a motorcycle blocked my path (how they got it inside the bus, i'll never know). after a few seconds there was a crash and the bus came to a stop on its own. i looked over the edge of the mountain, apparently it just wasn't my day to die in a bus crash.

arriving in luang prabang, i was so disoriented, i just got on the first tuk tuk that i saw with a foreign person on it. the guy was a priest, and i basically followed him to where he was going, a stretch of dirt road with a few guesthouses. from the outside they all looked sort of lacking, so i just picked the one i thought would have the best chance of having a TV in the room. outside, a large group of japanese travelers were eating bananas, and they were quick to great me. "nihonjin janai," i told him, but they didn't believe me. i got a great room, big, clean, seemingly-mosquito-proof, sunny, wooden floors, no AC but a big fan, but no TV, although there is an awesome balcony overlooking palm trees and a river, like a crazy tropical bungalow all for US$8. i took the room, but after seeing where it was on the map, it's kind of far from the center of town, about a 15 minute walk uphill. i'm going to look to change my guesthouse but if i can't find anything better i'll stay. so after a hot shower i headed into town, where my first impression of luang prabang is that it's a lot like hoi an, all sleepy and quiet and hot and foreigners walking the streets.

i'll be here in town for a few days. trying to get some semblance of relaxation going before i cross over into thailand (chiang mai).

bus view

motorcycle on the bus

vang vieng

bus view

balcony view

night market