Monday, July 8, 2013

Off to authentic adventure: the Kong Lor cave - Chapter one

Traveling had been smooth so far. There were no major hick-ups during our first week in Thailand and Laos. Too smooth? Well, the visit of the Kong Lor cave made it right again. While the exploration of the cave has been a real adventure for the children, getting there (and back) was a true challenge for the parents.

Getting there
The friendly, French-speaking agent of the Vientiane tourism office had informed us that a so-called VIP  bus (supposedly more comfortable than local busses, in fact they're equivalent) would leave from Vientiane' s South bus station to Kong Lor at 10.00 a.m. 
Almost correct, our bus left at 20 min. past 10. 
That the fare price was 100.000 kip per person (10 euros).
Correct, and younger children don't have to pay, assuming they can sit on your lap if sitting space is scarce. 
That the bus ride would last 4 hours.
Wrong, it takes 7 to 8 hours to get there. We had packed food and water for a shorter ride and ran out of supply. Luckily, we were able to buy from the ladies who hop in the bus to sell bottled water, rice, grilled meat and buns. The buns were really good, by the way. All stomachs filled, the journey became endless and so boring. The tablet's batteries ran flat, the children grew tired. After a long ride we finally got there, and it was worth it.

Lesson learned: when planning the trip, I selected an itinerary that excludes day-long bus rides. A very wise choice if we manage to stick to it.