24 December 2015
After 25 hours, not 18 hours, we finally arrived Luang Prabang. Our bus was stuck at the mountain road between Udom Xai and Luang Prabang because of an accident to another vehicle. It caused a massive jam. The bus driver turned off the engine and we were there for almost 7 hours since 1:30am. Slept in the bus was tolerable, despite the long hours. This was time that we experienced disconnection with the outside world. No internet, no entertainment. We stopped at few points for toilet breaks. This one which we had throughout the night was in the mountain. No toilet.
Accidents are not uncommon in the mountains of this region. On 20 December, 13 Malaysian tourists were killed in an accident at Doi Saket. We saw the part of the bus window at the roadside as our bus from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai passed by accident site. Driving in the winding mountain road was dangerous. The Laotian driver still had wine while driving the bus. There were several drivers operated on different shifts so we were that worried.
Very little has been heard about Laos. It’s also one of the least travelled countries. Most travelers on the bus were French, German, American, Thai, a Laotian and a Korean guy. Luang Prabang is more modern than I expected. As compared to Myanmar in 2012 when we visited, this nation is not as closed up as we anticipated. There is strong presence of Chinese influence. Landlocked Laos is one of the world’s remaining communist states and one of East Asia’s poorest. It’s also untouched by the modern demands, stress and peace of life.