Day 39: Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls

The time, five thirty a.m., I was woken up by some sort of commotion going on in the room. It was Jenna, staying true to her word of getting up early to go to alms (something that happens each morning, where the monks walk through town, and the locals pay their respects, and give them offerings). At first, I was tempted to get up, as I woke up with a bit of energy, however, after asking Sarah if she wanted to go, her answer of “no,” followed by a swift rolling over in bed, confirmed my beliefs that I too, should stay in bed.

A couple of hours passed before more commotion occurred. Again, it was Jenna, she had returned to grab her bag, as she had to catch a bus to her next destination. I was quite tired by this time, and even though i wanted to say goodbye, I couldn’t stay awake to do it. This left Brandon, Sarah and myself, in our room, where we remained sleeping until around ten thirty. I was surprised that Mr Zarbo had stayed in bed, up until then, he would have been up and out exploring by eight a.m. When we eventually got up, we agreed to meet Brandon at a local food joint after Sarah and I had completed our first task.

Our first call of the day was to collect our passports from the Vietnamese consulate, as we hadn’t got round to doing it the day before. We got up, showered and dressed quickly, before heading out the door for a ten minute walk to get there. The temperature was delightful for a morning walk as the sun wasn’t as high in the sky at this point. When we arrived, we handed over our receipt and were given back our passports, each containing a Vietnamese visa for a month commencing, the third of December twenty twelve.

On our return journey to the hostel the temperature was increasing, which sucked because with the humidity factor and the mad lack of shade, the sun is the worst place to be in and even the local dogs sit in the shade. As predicted, Brandon wasn’t anywhere to be found, so we returned to the hostel, where we found the man in question in bed. About half an hour later, when BZarbs was finally ready, we visited Joma’s, where Sarah and I, had a pizza slice each for breakfast (see what I mean about a bad diet). Brandon ordered a bagel, with egg, ham and cheese, this looked delicious, so, I too ordered one too. Afterwards we went back to our room to pack our bags, then went looking for somewhere to purchase a bus ticket to the border.

We returned to the second place that we had vqisited the day before. These guys were very helpful, and informed us that we could make it cheaper if we just bought a ticket to the border, and from there, arranged another ride for us. When we left, Brandon said he was surprised that I let Sarah always do the talking, as back home he does it for him and his girlfriend. For some unknown reason I was a bit offended by his observation, I guess because on some level it was true, I think I was more annoyed with myself, as up until he said this I felt like I’ve been following Sarah’s lead as opposed to sorting things out for myself. We had a little look around some market stalls on our return journey, before asking a tuktuk if we could get a lift to the small waterfall. He agreed, we then settled on a price, and set off. During our half an hour tuktuk ride, I stupidly brought up the observation which Brandon made earlier, and, by me trying to justify myself, it ended up in an argument between Sarah and myself. With the argument not getting settled, and Sarah then being very annoyed with me, it made for a very uncomfortable journey. We arrived a little while after, where we were told to walk down a hill to the waters edge. There we would climb aboard a little boat for a five minute ride up river.

When we arrived we climbed some steps, to find three elephants which people could pay to ride. If you didn’t want to ride, you could pay for some bananas and feed them instead. We had to pay an additional fee to gain entry to the waterfalls, however, these were not as impressive as the ones we saw the other day. At these particular waterfalls you could do more activities, ranging from elephant rides, to zip lining, however, we didn’t have the time to do this as we had to be back for five p.m. to catch our bus. While walking through the national park, we witnessed elephants being cleaned in one of the pools, as well as people swimming around and posing for photos. Speaking of which, Brandon asked Sarah and I, to stand side by side for a photo and seeing as she still wasn’t happy with me, it made for a good bad picture. We soon returned to our tuktuk, and headed back to the town.

Here, we paid the driver, then went to the market stalls to buy some dinner before our twelve hour bus journey. By this point, mine and Brandon’s marriage to our wife was over, and we decided to have one last fling with another woman. She was rather cheeky, trying to charge us an extra five thousand kip (something our loyal loving wife would never have done to us). We managed to get the prices down to our usual price, however, we were slightly concerned about the amount of flies surrounding our ingredients, not enough to ignore the growls from our stomachs though. During our wait for the sandwiches, I managed to get Sarah talking with me again, I don’t know how, it must have been down to my super charm, or good looks (both of which are fictional), so, I put it down to Sarah being over the fact her boyfriend’s an idiot.

With sandwiches in tow, the three of us returned to our hostel, where, due to our late check out, Sarah was concerned we’d be charged an extra nights stay. Brandon and I, ate our sandwiches while we waited for our shuttle ride to the bus station, the tuktuk pulled up shortly after, so, we rushed the remainder of our baguettes, before climbing in. It turned out, Sarah had nothing to worry about, as, the hotel employee thanked us for our stay, and asked us to return, clearly there was no such thing as a late check out charge. It didn’t take long for the tuktuk to get us to the bus station, even with a short stop, for Sarah to purchase travel sickness pills.

At the station, we only had to wait twenty minutes, before being allowed to enter our twenty five person coach. We were slightly annoyed, as we were told it was going to be a forty five seater, but, unfortunately, that one was broken down. With our bags strapped to the roof, we set off, hoping that’s where they’d remain. Given the roads in Laos, we weren’t holding our breaths. About an hour or so into the journey, we made a stop, where the two drivers hopped out for a quick toilet break, then it was back on the road. It wasn’t long after our first stop that we were stopping again, this time, we were slightly confused as two locals climbed aboard, leading us to believe we were aboard a public bus (if this was the case, it wouldn’t be long before people with chickens started joining us).

Three hours later, we parked up in the middle of nowhere, for refreshment. During our time here, Sarah and I had a look around, to see if we could spot anything worth eating, not to be fussy but I don’t consider sticks of fur, or dried out chillies to be something of a delicacy that I’d enjoy. Brandon took out his camera, in an attempt to capture the stars in the night’s sky, as, by this time it was dark out and they were coming out to play, thirty minutes later, we were back on the road. On the journey I swapped seats with Brandon, so I could lye down and attempt to sleep, while he watched tv shows on my tablet. Now, I usually have no problem when it comes sleeping, I consider myself something of an expert, but, when your head bangs against the walls of a bus every five minutes, even Sleeping Beauty would struggle.

I’d estimate five hours passed before the next stop, but, instead of gradually waking up, I was awakened by three sudden jolts. When I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I realised some of the passengers were walking around outdoors. Brandon and I got off also to see what was going. It transpired, the bus driver and his buddy were changing a flat tyre which had happened somewhere along the way. Here, the two of us made jokes about what was happening, as well as exaggerating the situation, in a what if kind of style. Brandon soon averted my gaze by telling me to look up, the night’s sky was filled with millions of stars by this point, and they were dancing. The view was helped partially by the fact we were in the middle of nowhere, meaning we had no light pollution to block them out. For the rest of the journey I did my best to sleep, finally achieving that feat when the sun rose (this was probably down to my night shift sleeping pattern from home). I did wake up briefly when we were coming down over a hill however, and all around us were mountains surrounded in the rising morning mist. I couldn’t help feeling it would have made for a fantastic photo, but I couldn’t get to a camera quick enough, so, just went back to sleep.

Eventually, we showed up at the bus station at the border. Here, the three of us would have to book our own tuktuk followed by a boat across the river to Chiang Rai. The driver of our bus told us the tuktuks were coming, then, like something from the movie Mad Max, they showed up one by one, each looking worse than the other. We managed to squeeze eight people, plus baggage, into a four person vehicle and hit the road…. slowly. We struggled up one hill, cutting out twice, before Brandon hopped out to jokingly push, it appeared to work as we made it to the next hill, which was downward thankfully. We made it to the border, paid the price for a boat ticket across, and set foot on Thailand soil. That concluded day thirty nine as by now it was around eight a.m. and we were running on fumes.

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