Hanoi to Vientiane - Not a Death Bus, but they sure tried

Vientiane Travel Blog

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Walking from Vietnam to Laos
Well, the death-bus ride certainly tried its best to live up to its reputation.The ride out of Hanoi was fairly uneventful, and the bus was filled with other backpackers on their way to Laos. The bus wasn't too bad for a sitting bus, though cargo and luggage totally filled the back of the bus and the aisles. As it turned out, this was definitely a good thing - more on that later. We arrived at the Laos border at some ungodly hour of the night, where we waited until 6am for the border to open. Why we didn't just leave Hanoi later is beyond me. Once we were through the Vietnam border we had a quick half-kilometer walk down the road to the Laos border. Like most of the other bus denizens, I obtained my visa at the border for $35. The Vietnam-Laos border is way up in the mountains in the middle of nowhere. Very beautiful, very surreal.
Epic Tire Fail


Once we were actually in Laos the bus ride got a whole lot more exciting. The first couple hours were spent on a twisting, incredibly scenic road - until one of the tires exploded. I wonder how often this happens, because the drivers had the tire changed in less than half an hour. With the tire changed, we were back on the road...

...Until the road disappeared under water. Of the final four hours of the journey, literally half (maybe more) was spent driving through flooded rivers. The depths probably ranged from 1 - 4 feet, and the currents ranged from still to scary. We didn't feel any better when we saw our bus's twin at an awkward angle beside the "road," half submerged under water. That could have been us!

We finally arrived in Vientiane, 23 hours after leaving Hanoi.
That could have been us!
And we all breathed an incredible sigh of relief, and not just because the bus ride was over. Getting into Vientiane, the largest city in Laos, you can immediately feel the difference. Laos feels nothing like Vietnam, Cambodia, or Thailand. Everything is just so much more relaxed. Cities are quiet and sedate rather than loud and bustling. The omnipresent honking of southeast Asia disappears. There are no moto or tuk-tuk drivers harassing you as you walk down the street. Laos is different in all the right ways.

I ended up splitting a room with Swiss Livia and Canadian Brock, and Livia and I bought tickets to head to Vang Vieng the following day. After an amazing dinner over the river we crashed for the night.
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Walking from Vietnam to Laos
Walking from Vietnam to Laos
Epic Tire Fail
Epic Tire Fail
That could have been us!
That could have been us!
Vientiane
photo by: skydiver