So we arrived back in Vientiane with no money, since the only ATM in the country was here we were planning to head straight there. We just had enough money to get a tuk-tuk to a cheap nasty hotel. We dumped our bags and were about to go get some money when I suddenly realized I didn’t have my passport. It was in my daypack. Still on the bus.
Not only my passport but my air-tickets, laptop and every other important thing I have. I had put my bag up on the shelf above the seats and somehow just completely forgotten about it, you would think that by now I would be a bit smarter but obviously not. So I completely panicked, dropped everything and ran out of the room with Tash running after me. I must have looked hysterical as the guy at reception changed some money for us (the little we had about $4 worth) and we got a tuk-tuk driver to take us back to the bus station for half the normal price. The whole journey there I was making back up plans in the likely event that everything was stolen. We arrived and I ran to the office trying to act out to the non English speaker how I’d left my bag on the bus. Not too much help but we found the bus being cleaned in the car park and there was my bag, just where I’d left it. The cleaner who was cleaning it when we arrived hadn’t even noticed. So Laos’ ‘not caring’ attitude had worked out very well for us! I’m pretty sure that in any other country in Asia my bag would have been stolen even while I was on the bus. We got the tuk-tuk driver to take us to the ATM which of course wasn’t working, a bit paranoid that we were truly screwed with no money we found out it actually was working so we paid the rest of the money to the driver and took a bit of time to relax after a very stressful hour! We only had one night so we just had a walk around and had dinner down by the river and headed to bed.
Up early in the morning for a quick journey over the Thai-Laos friendship bridge into Nom Kai, a relaxed border town on the Thai side. We brought overnight train tickets for that evening and spent the day waiting. Walked to a giant Buddha statue and then had lunch at a very relaxed guesthouse. It was one of those super hippy places, with advertisements for yoga and meditation courses and the American guy on the desk was frustratingly calm. But good food.
For our last couple of hours we went out to a statue park which had a lot of very big Buddhist and hindu statues. The coolest being this big circle of life which we had picked up a guide for at our hippy lunch place. First you climb through the jaws of life, as sperm (we took photos swimming through the entrance) and go round looking at different statues representing different stages of life with a big thing in the middle with something to do with reincarnation. Really interesting especially with our guide. We also feed some giant ugly fish then headed back to the train station for an 11 hour train ride down to Bangkok. Pretty nice train, and despite the fact that they kept the intense fluorescent lights on all night it was a good train ride and actually got some sleep.