…and how we ended up in the hospital 🙂
08.12.2016 – 12.12.2016
after the Gibbon Experience was over, we got driven back to their office in Huay Xai and I think we arrived there at around 1pm. Since we were waitlisted for our dates on the trip in the first place, of course we hadn’t booked anything after that. Many people had booked the night bus from Huay Xai (Bokeo) to Luang Prabang that left at 5pm. So we tried to get on as well, but it was full. The only choice we had was the “local bus”, and since there were no other options, we took it. BAD IDEA 😀
The bus took 16 hours instead of the 10-11 hours of the night bus. You couldn’t recline your seat (for the whole night!). And South East Asia style they filled the bus with as many people as would fit into it – the Lao children were piled in the aisle like a Tetris game. Children are generally great, yes I know that, but somehow the driver always turned on the lights when a child started to cry (which was basically every 5 minutes). Not so great. At some point of time people also started eating their late dinner / midnight snack / very early breakfast (don’t remember exactly) and left their rubbish just there on the floor… I just saw this when exiting the bus, but I had already wondered about the funny smell before then. Additionally, the bus stopped at random intervals and pretty useless stops where nobody got off or on (which was why it took 16 hours…). Gotta love Asia!
The only good thing about the long journey was that we arrived in Luang Prabang at the reasonable time of 8am in the morning and didn’t have to hang out at the bus station. We had booked a fancy schmancy hotel in Luang Prabang (Sanctuary), and they let us have an early checkin – which somewhat made up for the horrible bus ride.
About Luang Prabang
Now Luang Prabang is considered the cultural capital of Laos, since it was the kings capital until Laos became a democracy in 1975. It is perched between the bend of two rivers (the Mekong, and its side river Nam Khan), which makes for a pretty setting of the city, and is also good for river trade.
The city itself has some few sights like temples etc. (not much different from anything else you would see in SEA), but on the outskirts of Luang Prabang there are some touristy highlights, including the Ou Pak caves (very interesting since some of the rebels in the Indochinese war had their base there), which unfortunately we didn’t visit. You will find out why in a minute. Apart from the caves, there are also nice waterfalls: The superfamous Kuang Si waterfalls, and the smaller Tat Se waterfalls.
“Nightlife” in Luang Prabang
On our arrival day we basically slept (after the 16 hour bus ride), had snacks at a nice place called Utopia (apparently everyone is there…), and later met up with some of the people we met at the Gibbon Experience (Hi Marjian, Niki and Yoni!). In the evening, we also ended up in Utopia since it advertised “the best night life in Luang Prabang”. Later it seemed to me like “only night life in Luang Prabang”. We maybe arrived there at 10pm, and had just gotten our super classy buckets (glasses, actually! – so much more cultivated than Thailand..), but at 11pm they started to kick us out. So much for the night life. On our way out, we asked some people what they are doing now, and everybody just said “bowling”.
Turns out – there is a bowling center on the outskirts of the city that is licensed to operate after midnight and to sell beer! We entered that place and it was sooooooo weird 😀 It looked like a bowling center, but it was SUPER full, everybody seemed rather drunk and the whole thing was more like a party. Very funny. All the lanes were busy, so we just had our drinks and our party and left (without playing but whatever – watching was also fun).
Sights of Luang Prabang
The next day, all 5 of us rented scooters and drove up to the Kuang Si waterfalls to do something cultural.
The waterfalls were actually really amazing, and were running down in a really long cascade. You could take a swim there, and also hike up to the very top from where the waterfall starts, which included some pretty intense climbing where I had to use a vine or two to help. Don’t know how all the people did it in flip flops 😀 Rudolf even went so far as to call them the most beautiful waterfalls he has ever seen. Personally I have better feelings about the Aquas Azules in Mexico, but don’t remember them too clearly.
Anyways, done with the visit of the Kuang Si fall, we started off on our scooters to drive back to the city and on the way also visit the Tat Se waterfalls. That was the plan. Let me just say it didn’t work out that way…
…(or basically a recount of our accident)
We had 3 scooters: Yoni, alone, on the first scooter, then Niki and Marjian on the second scooter, then Rudolf and me on the third. There was a car in front of us, which somehow got slower and slower. Just starting the overtaking manoeuvre, it happened. We saw something standing / lying in the middle of the road, and then we saw Niki and Marjian fall in front of us. Rudolf hit the break, and – schwupps – we were falling as well. Funny sensation, that. Turned out there was a huge oil stain on the street, and some other couple had fallen down just before us. Their scooter was still lying on the street, while the girl was lying on the side of the road. The 10 or so Lao road workers who were apparently responsible for the oil stain were all standing around her – which was the reason nobody alerted us to the oil, which we found pretty stupid.
The fall as such was very slow-mo, and our scooter was sliding directly onto Marjian – thank god nothing happened to her! Actually, Niki and her didn’t really have anything, but Rudolf and me took the main blow. Rudolfs whole arm was screwed up (not to mention his beautifully torn T-shirt ;)), and I had a rather deep and dirty looking wound on my hand. Plus additional minor wounds on both of us. Also, the scooters took some damage, including a light (we only found out later), and a side mirror.
After the fall we tried to clean the wounds with water and waited till the shock wore off a bit. Yoni, who is a doctor, tried to help the girl lying on the street, but she didn’t really speak English very well. Her foot didn’t look too good (a lot of blood and toes sticking into the wrong direction). We found out later in the hospital that it apparently wasn’t as bad as it looked at first (our medical connection, the doctor, told us :D). In the meanwhile, they got picked up by a taxi including their scooter, and Yoni was trying to explain to the road workers that they should position one guy at one end of the oil stain, and another guy at the other end – but alas, to no avail! It seems they didn’t really understand. Again – gotta love Asia! Don’t separate from the group!
So since I was in a small shock, I didn’t want to get back on the scooter, so I just stopped the next taxi coming along. The Israeli family in there was so kind to take me with them back to Luang Prabang. It was really nice – I miss you Israeli people! 🙂 Because the driver had seen my wound, he somehow first took me to the emergency room / hospital in Luang Prabang, but: we had agreed to meet up at the hotel with the others, and after taking one look into that emergency room and seeing a doctor or nurse in a once-white-but-not-so-white-now-anymore coat, I gave up on the idea. Sorry dude, and thanks anyways!
The REAL shock!
We met at the hotel, cleaned our wounds as best we could with water and petadine, and then settled for some food. Then Rudolf and me went to the pharmacy to get some bandages and stuff. It worked out rather well I would say, given the communications problems we had 😀 However, 1 day later (we had just re-bandaged our wounds), Rudolfs brother Peter, who is a doctor, somehow managed to get me into a panic on tetanus, because that was the only vaccination that I had not renewed before travelling (stupid me, yeah I know…) and it was 11 years old. And yes, the road was dirty, and yes, my wound looked particularly dirty, and yes, you can die from tetanus. All of those facts combined decided it: we needed to get to the hospital after all!
At 11pm in the night we hired a tuk tuk and drove to the exact same emergency room that I was at before. There, we got our wounds cleaned and newly bandaged (they basically did exactly the same thing that we did ourselves, so we were pretty proud of our medical skills), and got a tetanus shot. I was really relieved and we had a lot of fun. Rudolf, with his whole arm full of wounds, was the center of attention and had approximately 10 people standing around him. I felt kinda neglected with my 2 nurses… 😀 So our first fun visit to the hospital in Laos ended up in us paying like 45 USD for both our tetanus vaccinations, wound cleaning, antibiotics and a lifetime supply of paracetamol and ibuprofen (we didn’t know what for, as we told them it didn’t hurt so bad, and also we still have those now…). Bless you, Laos health system.
Here is a beautiful picture of us in the hospital:
Sooo being slightly useless for doing any active things at all, we spent a few lazy days in Luang Prabang. Honestly, I don’t remember doing much except sleeping, eating, taking super disgusting antibiotics, and meeting up with our friends from Gibbon. We walked around Luang Prabang, did some shopping, watched the sunset at the river, watched the monks alm ceremony in the morning where faithful believers offer food and other alms (mostly cooked sticky rice, though) to the monastery… lazy stuff.
We had a flight booked on the 12th of December to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Whaaaat, so that’s what we did next. See ya there, mates (I am currently already in Australia, yeah..)