Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Lao Trip 11.1 - Ken Thao

My 11th trip to Lao, in early June 2015, began unusually poorly. On the bus from Nong Bua Lamphu to Muang Loei, the bus attendant insisted I hadn’t paid the first time, so I paid him twice. I’m sure it was a rip-off. At first I thought it might be that he was just too hung-over from the night before, cuz he looked the part. But, throughout the trip, I saw that he kept on looking back at me, so I think if he was thinking about it that much, he would have remembered the first time I gave him the fare. Way around this, in the future, of course, is just to buy a ticket, but sometimes you’re on the run and don’t have the time.

In cases like this, you just have to let it go. However, through most of the ride, I felt resentful and taken advantage of. At one point I thought I might report him, but then I settled down. The fare only amounted to about three bucks, so it just wasn’t worth it. Even so, mentally I had to challenge myself not to dwell on it. Instead, I forced myself to think of the roads ahead.

So, I’ve complained before about how much I have to pay for private transport to Pak Lai once I’m at Ken Thao, in Lao. This time, I decided to deal with this problem. So, once in Ken Thao, I got a room at a guesthouse close to the market and bus station, deciding to take the regularly scheduled sawngthaew to Pak Lai the next morning.

This approach cost me time, but I got to see a little of Ken Thao and the lifestyle of the Ken Thao drivers, plus do a little shopping and have a good dinner. Most importantly, it saved me a little bit of money. The private transport from Ken Thao to Pak Lay can cost as much as $46 USD (same price as a month’s visa!). Totalling all my expenses staying a night in Ken Thao, I only spent $20 USD and had a new pair of sandals, too.

(Ken Thao market)

I spent about an two hours in the market, due to a rainstorm that came in and locked us all down, then spent another two hours over at the “bus station,” hanging out with the drivers that charge so much (not just private sawngthaew transport, but local tuk-tuk fares, as well), watching them play petanque while I drank Beer Lao with ice. As I might have mentioned before, I am sure I know where a good portion of those high price transit fees go: bets on the petanque court!

(Ken Thao transit center)

A dinner at the guesthouse with another Beer Lao ended the day.

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