Almost everyone has heard of jet lag, and if we happen to meet anyone about to take a long flight we always give them advice on how not to get jet lag. Who knew that we needed someone to tell us the same thing about buses! Bus lag? Really? I know, I know…I had never heard of it either, but trust me, it is very real!
My sincere apologies out there to my 9 devoted readers out there for not posting for a while. 🙂 If you read on, you will soon see why. Here is part 1 of my detailed version of the trip.
So we left our house around 12pm on Monday. Nathan gave us a ride to the bus station in Kanchanaburi. We got a bus to one of Bangkok’s 2 bus stations. There is a northern one and a southern one. We were going north so we went to Mo Chit bus station. Not sure how to spell that exactly but I’m starting to realize it really doesn’t matter. All of the English translations from Thai are all spelled differently from one company to the next, from one province to the next. I saw a sign today spelling Kanchanaburi with a j, Kanjanaburi. lol I’ll be posting an album on the photo’s page in a few weeks of all the bag English interpretations I come across.
Once we got to Kanchanaburi we had to go and make copies of our passport as well as take some passport photos. When you enter into Laos, and probably any other country as well, one of the forms you feel out requires a photo to be attached. If you don’t have one you can get one at the border but they will definitely over charge you for it.
You need copies of your passport in case because usually you will need to leave your passport at the Thai Embassy for about 24 hours or so and you don’t want to walk around Laos without your passport or a copy of it.
After that it was off to catch our bus that left at 2 pm. 3.5 hours later we arrived in Bangkok. After wandering around confused and lost for a few minutes, Raena and I were able to buy our tickets to Nong Khai, the border town next to Laos. Since our bus didn’t leave until 8, we decided to go and find something to eat. There is food at the bus station but what we really wanted, Indian food, wasn’t there. Bangkok is full of Indian restaurants. Kanchanaburi?…not so much. Actually there are no Indian restaurants in Kanchanaburi. (I figure it would take about $30K to start and run one for a year. Hit me up if you want to invest. lol. no really though)
We did end up finding a very good Indian restaurant and making it back without missing our bus. Go Team Jones! Some of you might not find this to be a big deal but Bangkok is overwhelming. To find an Indian restaurant that was close to the bus station, that actually tasted good, in a city of 15 million that we don’t live in, is no small feat!
Back at the bus station, we had to wait about an hour before our bus was ready to leave. We almost got on the wrong one, but thankfully, they have bus attendants, kind of like flight attendants, that check your ticket and tell you if you are on the right bus.
We got on the bus and got settled in for our 9 hour ride. Which is why we decided to ride the VIP bus. From what I can tell there are 3 types of buses you can ride. VIP, which has a bathroom and more leg room. First class, which has a bathroom and a little more leg room. Or regular, which has no bathroom and the regular bus seat. It also makes several stops along the way which lengthen the trip more than the others.
Because I happen to be 6’3 and have the bladder the size of a 6 year old, we choose to buy the VIP tickets, which will costs you about 10 bucks more per ticket than the regular one. Well worth it for a 9 hour trip. We ended up only getting 3 seats because we end up holding Alayna most of the time anyway.
We got into Nong Khai at about 6 a.m, where we were promptly bombarded by about 20 Tuk-Tuk drivers. Since the border doesn’t open until 8, we decided to walk around the local market and get some diapers. We saw a cute outfit for my daughter, which we found out later, had a special feature. 🙂
Yes, that is newspaper. I’ll just let you make up your own story for that. lol
In the midst of us shopping we notice that we have a tail. One of the Tuk-Tuk drivers decided in his mind that we were rich and was going to follow us around until we said we needed a ride. After about 30 mins he decided to give up and go after someone else.
From the bus stop you have to get a ride the 4 km or so to the border, where you fill out your departure card and go through customs/immigration. While we were in line we ran into an awesome couple. They were even more awesome because he happened to be black! American black!!! Again this might not seem like such a big deal to you but in my two months here I haven’t run into a single American black. Not one. I know, crazy right? I’ll tell you more about them later on.
After you go through customs you have to take a bus across the Mekong River which is only like 5 mins. You then go to Laos Immigration/Customs. This is where you need that passport photo I was telling you about. You also need to fill out your arrival card.
Once through there you have to take a taxi into town to the Embassy or to wherever you are staying. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that there are lots of taxi drivers waiting for your business on the Laos side as well. 🙂
Since we didn’t have to go to the Embassy this time, we went to our hotel. One little problem. I forgot to negotiate a price BEFORE we got into the cab! Hahaha Let’s just say, the drive definitely ripped us off!
We go to the hotel at 9 am. A little before our 12 pm check in, but they were nice and let us check in early.
I’ll stop here because if you have been keeping track at home, we left our house at 12 the previous day. It took us 21 hours to get to the hotel in Laos.
See, like I said…bus lag.