I’m all about the journey being just as great as the destination but when it came to traveling from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang quite the opposite was true. Luang Prabang itself was beautiful, serene and so laidback but getting there was a complete nightmare. Well, it was kind of nice until it suddenly wasn’t. The scenery as we drove up into the mountains was so pretty, everything we drove past was a picture (well I thought so at the time and now have hundreds of blurred tree and bush photos).
The mini bus ride from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang looked like this…
Nice! We stopped off to admire the incredible view…
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Nightmare! We stopped off to admire another incredible view. A tourist bus had gone off the cliff. Not very reassuring when you’re half way up the same mountain in a tourist bus yourself.
I have no idea what happened to the passengers that were on this golden bus with VIP written on it but it’s good to know that it’s not worth paying extra for the VIP experience. I found this quite amusing in a very messed up way.
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This unexpected stop-off lasted about five hours. There was no going around it or any other detours available, there’s one road up the mountain and one back down and when it’s blocked it’s blocked. So if it had taken them all night to get the bus back we would have been camping out in the mini van. Just another day of bussing around in South East Asia I guess.
So after our surprise delay we needed to make our way down the winding, unlit mountain in the dark (never a good idea, see the reason above) and I arrived into Luang Prabang much later than anticipated but grateful to be alive and in one piece. I shared a tuk tuk with a couple, they got off at their hotel and then the either drunk or crazy driver attempted to get me to my hotel. He drove around in circles and just couldn’t find the place. I got out the tuk tuk after about 15 minutes of not getting anywhere, didn’t get any change back from the crazy driver and then flagged down another driver who did end up finding my hotel.
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So I finally walk into the hotel, this is the moment I had been wishing for while stuck on the roadside not knowing when I would return to civilization. There’s some confusion at the front desk and I get told that I haven’t got a room and they don’t have my booking. I show them my receipt, I’d paid for the room online already and I’d booked weeks ago. They sucked basically and had over booked or whatever, the receptionist couldn’t care less either way. So back out into the dark I went to find another tuk tuk driver and then find another hotel. Twenty minutes later I’d checked into The Legend and had a much nicer room.
Luang Prabang and I did not get off to the best start.