After 5 days on Don Kohn we were ready to move on. We had planned to spend a month in Laos, but our schedule was only loosely laid out.
We wanted to go to Vang Vieng next. This would involve more than 24 hours of travel. “Travel agents” dotted the main road on Don Khon. It seemed anyone with a cell phone could organize transportation off the island.
We asked around at a couple of places for prices and settled on booking with the guy with the makeshift movie theater and used book shop.
The tickets cost 170,000 kip (about 20 USD)per person, which seemed to be a good price. Also, this guy was friendly and spoke English well. It was helpful that he could explain what would be involved in getting from Don Khone to Vang Vieng because it was somewhat complicated.
1. Leave Don Khon by boat at 10:30 am
2. Arrive at the small mainland town around 11:30 am
3. Walk from the dock to the bus station
4. Mini bus (basically a 13 passenger van) to Paske leaves around noon.
5. Arrive in Paske around 3 pm.
6. Hang out in Paske until overnight bus leaves at 8:30 pm
7. Arrive in Vientiane at 6 am
8. Take minibus to Vang Vieng around 9 am
9. Minibus will arrive in Vang Vieng around noon
Surprisingly everything happened pretty much as he said it would.
The next morning we waited in front of his shop until a boat man came and got us. We carefully got into the boat with our luggage, trying not to tip over what basically amounted to a motorized canoe.
After a 40 minute boat ride, we arrived at the dock. We weren’t sure exactly where to go for the bus, but the boatman pointed the way and we just walked until we found the small, dusty bus station.
We waited there until we were ushered onto a mini bus to Pakse a little while later.
In Pakse, we had 5 hours to kill. We left our bags at the travel agency and wandered around before finding an air-conditioned restaurant to eat dinner and hang out in until it was time to go.
We met back at the travel agency and were transported to the bus station by songtheow (public transportation truck).
We had ridden an overnight bus three years ago in Vietnam, but this bus was slightly different. It was a double decker bus. With two rows of double beds on each level.
Our “seats” were on the top level of the bus. Sierra and Arwen shared a bed. And Kali and I shared a bed. Rand was assigned bed in the very back of the bus with a long bed that was designed to fit four people.
We teased Rand for a while that he was going to have to snuggle a stranger that night. Luckily for him, the other seats remained open and he had the whole back section to himself.
Unluckily for him, the top back seat of a double decker bus is very bumpy to ride in. The double beds were pretty tiny, so I decided to give Kali more space and move to the back with Rand. But I only last about 5 minutes before coming back to my own space because I was getting jostled around too much.
Rand slept with his back braced against the side of the bus all night.
It wasn’t a terrible night’s sleep, but it wasn’t great. Early the next morning we were dropped off at the Vientiane bus station.
From here we did not know where to go, so we asked around. Eventually, someone told us to sit in the waiting area. So we did.
About 45 minutes later, someone came and found us and ushered us into a songtheow (public transportation truck). We drove through the city to a travel agency where we waited for about an hour. I was so tired I fell asleep in the hard wooden chair.
A mini bus came and pick us up. We arrived in Vang Vieng about 3 hours later. After a 15 minute walk, we were at our guesthouse.
After more than 24, surprisingly uneventful, hours we made it. Whew!