A chance encounter
We were back on the bus – this time to the transport interchange city of Udomxay. We had opted for a real bus this time, hoping that the slower speed and larger size would allow for a more stable journey. We had to be in China by the next day, and a bus was our only option.
Although we’d requested and been given tickets with seat numbers at the front (hearing that the front is the best place to avoid sickness) by the time Sam got the bikes on top of the huge bus and we boarded, it was full except the seats at the back. We were told that seat numbers didn’t count. Luckily we were able to stack our bags on the backseat rather than put them up the top of the bus.
This bus journey was much better than the others, and Sam didn’t feel nearly so bad. Although when it rained the bus leaked above us, the rain didn’t last long. And the toilet stop was by the side of the road. But by now we realized that was how it was in Laos.
In Udomxay we set about finding a hotel. We asked at half a dozen guesthouses and hotels before deciding to ride a kilometer to one we’d passed on the way into town. It took me 15 minutes of attempting to communicate with the boy to get prices for a couple of rooms and we decided we weren’t going to stay there. Just as we were about to leave a tandem bike pulled in and a couple our age got off. We spoke to them and found out they were from Switzerland, and had been riding through Malaysia, Thailand and Laos like us. We were chatting away and decided to meet up in a couple of hours for dinner. In the meantime we all ended up staying at the hotel, as it was out of town and seemed quiet.
Before meeting the others for dinner Sam decided to check over the tube and tyre that we'd changed in the days earlier. He took it off and discovered a crack in the rim. A pretty bad one. He would need a new wheel, and in the meantime couldn’t ride the bike very far and I would have to carry the tent to lesson his load. We hoped that we would find one quickly in China.
We enjoyed chatting to Severene and Francois over dinner, and decided to all go to China together the next day.
For our French-reading/speaking followers here is a link to Severine and Francois' website
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Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia