We’re up early, again. Feeling like shit, again. FFS. Murphy finally got an email back from the baller seaplane company that we’d looked into flying out to Ha Long Bay too. We briefly toss around the idea of going again but we sunk like $180 USD each (!) on these last-minute flights to Luang Prabang in a couple of hours so we’d better try to make those instead. We head downstairs and our private driver is waiting for us with a brand-new Civic, we toss our shit in the back and roll out.
The traffic is crazy but fortunately we made sure we woke up well in advance. We jump out and check in, it’s a breeze and we get seats 1A, 1B and 1C. VIP what?? Maybe the reason we paid $180 USD for a 1-hour flight is because all the chumpseats are taken? Alright, I tell the boys I need to hit the head and change some Vietdong to Laobucks, meet back here in five minutes.
I’m done in five minutes and Murphy is there. Drisdelle isn’t. Murphy hasn’t seen him around. We look outside, nope. We look at the restaurants, nope. We look at the convenience stores, nope. Okay let’s just wait where we split up for ten minutes.
Ten minutes go by and still no Drisdelle. Would he have gone through security without us? He must have, this isn’t a huge airport. We go into security and there’s a lineup of about 200 people snakelining ahead of us but Drisdelle isn’t among them. Maybe he already got through? No turning back now. In about ten minutes we’re through.
Murphy gets on the Wi-Fi and drops Drisdelle a message. No reply. Hang out for a while. Still no reply. We discover there are two security gates so we go to check out the other one and find him hanging out there, and it’s right in front of the gate.
We wait a place called Star Cafe for the flight to board. Drisdelle and I get a Croque Monsieur which is like a ham and cheese with french toast. It’s pretty damn tasty. At the gate we find a swath of French Canadians waiting to board the same flight. Probably 30 of them, mostly older retired types. That’s odd. Drisdelle takes the opportunity to French it up with them, ou est le biblioteque ahn ahn ahn and the like.
Our ride is even more of a puddlejumper than we’d expected, a little twin-engine turboprop with four seats to a row. Of course we’re in the front row and this plane boards from the back. The front seats aren’t baller VIP seats as we’d hoped. Our bags also don’t fit in the overhead of this little hopper jet so we have to bring them up and toss them in some open space by where the flight attendants hang out.
Drisdelle and MacKay sit together and I’m with some little french girl. She’s cute, but also has a tough little backpacker vibe. She’s a talker with a smokey kind of whiskey voice and we shoot the shit for most of the short flight to Luang Pranbang. She’s from Leon in the South of France. I’d been there before so we talk about the city for a bit and about France in general. Cover our travels as per usual with other backpackers, she’s going south through Laos and into Cambodia. I give her some tips on Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. She’s in finance but after the trip doesn’t think she wants to go back into it. Maybe teaching, try to get into a university prof position or something. Cool girl, the flight went by lickitty split talking to her.
The only other notable things that happened during the flight were:
1) Drisdelle let a ripper go that smelled like pure dog shit and we sat in a cloud of death for a few minutes, half hating it and half laughing at how absurdly bad it was. “Dog Meat, man. I’ve never had dog meat before, okay”. He was red. We were all red.
2) The girl behind us was continually unloading a swamp load of snot into a napkin. It was loud and disgusting.
3) MacKay got his bag out of the overhead and then couldn’t get the compartment closed again. This was very irksome for the hulk, “Harh!” he slams on it, “What the fuck?!”, slams on it again, nothing. Triple slam slam slam, “You cocksucker!” Now the stewardess is rapidly walking down the isle towards him while he continues to hulk smash the overhead bin with increasing frustration. “Sir, sir! Please stop, sir” and she reaches up and gracefully closes the overhead bin with a gentle flick of her wrist.
Plane lands in what looks like the middle of a jungle rather than a proper city and it’s VOA time. We get in the line for a visa and there is a chart for how much each country has to pay to enter Laos. For some reason Canada has the highest visa fee on the planet. It’s 42 bucks whereas most others are only $30. That’s weird. Sweden is $31. Where are they getting these numbers?
We part with the French girl. We don’t quite get her name, she tells us her father is Algerian and shows us her passport. In my brief glance I saw something like Chrississssiiiissiisisisi Arlliisisisil, but I could be wrong. Anyways, Hope we run into Chrississssiiiissiisisisi again further down the trail.
We get to the taxi counter and I Bruce Quack us up a taxi. Bruce’s fucking quack noises are now the inside joke of the year. We get dropped at a hostel called Manu temple house and get checked in. It’s got a cool little tree house sitting area with a number of hippy euros in it and an outdoor ‘smoking garden’. It’s all very woody and green with plants, has a chill vibe.
We take the opportunity to biff some laundry in and McBurger is off on a solo mission to find the hospital in Luang Prabang and hopefully an answer to his ear infection issues that have been causing him discomfort for the entire trip thus far.