From the side of the road late one evening in Vieng Kham, we waited for the local bus to pass through town en route to Pakse. After waiting about 45 minutes, we did start to get nervous but luckily we were picked up.
On board, this was when the fun began. We had to hop over bags filled with corn that occupied the entire middle walkway. Of course our seat was way in the back. As I sat down on the pleather seat, all I could feel was the 4 springs beneath me. Last time I was on a bus like this was probably in elementary school.
Having no idea how much the bus ticket was, we paid the fee that was asked of us. We found out later, we were charged 50% more. Obvious advice: found out how much you are suppose to pay before boarding, from another source other than the bus driver.
Watching the locals come on board was interesting. With each person that came on, there was always about a 5-minute loud negotiation between the passenger and the bus attendant. As I don’t understand the language, this is my interpretation of the events. It usually began with the bus attendant asking the passenger to pay a certain amount. The passenger would nod his head and say another price. The bus attendant would say something rudely out loud and then nudge the passenger a few times. Of course the passenger would ignore the bus attendant for a few minutes. The bus attendant then would say yes to the offered price and the passenger then paid.
If anyone can understand the language and explain how the local bus works, I would be interested to learn the process and how much really goes to the government.
Even more interesting is seeing what the locals would bring on board with them. On one bus, we saw a motorcycle aboard.
After a two-hour ride, the bus pulls over the side of the road and the bus attendant screams. Boris and I look at each other with blank stares. Everyone on the bus quickly gets off and relieves himself or herself on the side of the road. OMG! We wanted to take a picture of this “local bus bathroom break experience”, but it would have been rude. 😉
The overnight bus ride took a total of eleven hours. We both got very little sleep and in the morning, I had the biggest neck pain. I think we both agree the local bus was okay from time to time but never a local night bus again.