After the fun in Vang Vieng we took the bus down to Vientiane, the Laos’ capital. Vientiane is a nice and cozy city but we had heard that there are not that many things to do and see there. We therefore decided to get a room for the night and head for Thailand in the morning.
At the guesthouse we met new friends when we were going to sleep – there were bedbugs in the bed!!! At first we saw one and thought that it was just some harmless bug but soon there were others that followed. Needless to say we didn’t get much sleep that night and hurried away from the guesthouse as soon as possible – after refusing to pay the agreed rate. What got us even more angry was that they seemed to know there were bedbugs in the room and rented it to us anyway …bastards!
We had seen tickets from Vientiane to Chang Mai in Thailand for 1,100-1,500 baht ($33-$45), which felt way too much for us – the savvy travelers :) so we decided to go on our own. We had seen that everything seemed to be overpriced in Vientiane and felt sure we could do better when in Thailand. We went to the local bus station and got a ticket to the nearest big Thai town (Udon Thani) for 80 baht – a good start. Going through the border was extremely easy and straight forward …and no payment to get the Thai visa, which is nice :)
For some reason most towns around here have at least two, if not more, bus stations and it is not uncommon that you have to get your self from one station to the next if you have to change busses. On top of that the bus stations are often outside the towns and that doesn’t make things easier. Anyway we had to take a tuktuk between bus stations and got a ticket to Chang Mai three hours later for 525 baht. By showing a little initiative we saved about 50% or 600 baht on the fare, which is huge in backpacker terms, and arrived in Chang Mai 3 hours sooner than if we would have taken the Vientiane-Chang Mai bus so we saved both time and money :)
I have to admit that the 14 hour bus ride was no luxury ride, we had one stop after seven hours and that was it. Twenty minutes to pee and eat. Apparently we had a toilet on board but that wasn’t really accessible because the bus was completely full with about fifteen people standing in the middle without any seats – some of them were standing for hours.
We were very happy to reach Chang Mai where we knew of a great guesthouse in the middle of town waiting for us. Chang Mai is the main city in Northern Thailand and offers a lot of tours and activities that we are now trying to decide between so stay tuned!
ps. we have not been taking enough photos recently as you can see by the crappy photos in the last few posts but I promise that we’ll shape up here in Chang Mai ;)