Now the journey starts to get messy. We err around for hours looking for the right bus station and have a hard time again exchanging those traveler checks. No soul here seems to be able of speaking English. And no one seems to understand where we want to go to, even showing the place in our map doesn’t help much. After a while an old lady brings us to a bust station. It is the right one now & some other fellow takes care of us now. We get our tickets and are brought to our bus, a really old half wrecked thing in which about 30 small beds are mounted in two levels and three rows. With this we are supposed now to reach Mongla at the boarder to Laos in about 30 hours time. God help us!
Faith was with us and sent two Europeans, Jarik and Janita, both speaking quite some Chinese. Now we feel not that much lost anymore, even though we get to hear about the forthcoming roads and so on. At first we are quite happy and take over the five beds in the end of the half-empty bus.
Of we go now, in the shaking squeaky bus, at first driving on nice even highways but soon entering rural area, driving on small gravel roads deeper and deeper into hardly developed areas. Rocks climbing up to our right and deep valleys falling down to our left. Huge trucks coming from the opposite direction. Scary… Primary forest here. From time to time we stop for a break or to pick up more passengers in tiny villages. Dusk, then black night. At least we don’t see anymore where we are passing through. The big holes in the road that our driver seems to find with perfect accuracy make us flying in the back of that bus, hitting the top beds first and then landing on the hard beds again. Sleep? Forget about that! I just remember that slanting axle on our bus and think of my family at home and the things I still wanted to do in my life =).
Dawn. New hope! We survived and with us the bus. Now we stop in a slightly bigger town and pick up a few more passengers. This is the end of our comfy spacious 5 beds. We get a Chinese with ragged Army clothes, his wife and their small child as neighbors. Of we go again, on the same bumpy narrow roads. As usual in China the little fellow just makes his business inside the bus. Mama catches the remains with a piece of paper and throws it out of the window. Daddy has a smoke. Me too.=) An old Chinamen in front of the bus has a big pipe that looks very familiar to me. I join him for a while and talk to some young Chinese guys about computers and gambling.
In the late afternoon we reach Mongla. We get to know that it is still three hours to go into the village on the boarder. But after some negotiations about price and conditions Jarik, Janita, ourselves and the backpacks are squeezed into a minivan and off we go again! The scenario is stunning – wooden houses on stilts, rice fields, water buffalos are dominating. Like on a painting I always wanted to paint, like in a half forgotten dream I must have had once.
We are exhausted when we arrive. A muddy street, a very cheap room. Cold shower, a dump bed. A big used pipe in the corner of the room again. For two more € we get diner, beer, a haircut and a head massage. Great – this is what we needed after the past two taxing days!