Ganesh Couldn’t Save Me
Posted by Heliocentrism on December 27, 2009
December 27, 2009
It’s okay Lady, my camera’s fine
I don’t even want to talk about it… Mark wanted to do it. He wanted to rent the scooter.
You see, I rented a scooter on my trip to Taiwan, and Mark has been dying to try one out for himself ever since. But when I had a scooter the roads were lonely. Most of the people drove sanely. And, it was just me on the bike.
I’m still bleeding as I write this. When two people are on a bike the center of gravity is a little higher than with only one rider. You have to make bigger turns. It takes longer to stop. It does not help when people, other commuters, are driving on the wrong side of the road in their trucks. I will let Mark tell you the rest.
I would like to confess that after the crash, when I got off the side of the road, my first thought was, “Is my camera alright?” I looked at Mark and saw that he was okay. He could stand and walk around and that’s a good sign. He asked me if I was okay, but I was too stunned to respond. I still needed to check on my camera.
A Laotian lady came running over to me to lead me to a faucet where I could wash off the mud, dirt, and blood from my arms and legs and assess the damage. She pointed out all my cuts to me and was very concerned about my welfare. My hand did look like I had just pulled it out of a jar of strawberry jam. All I wanted to say was, “It’s okay lady, my camera’s fine.”
Once things settled down and I started thinking straight, I began to feel nauseous. I almost threw up when it hit me that things could have been a lot worse.
And in case you, dear reader, are wondering… The camera did sustain a hard blow. There are a few dents on the camera near its lens, but it still takes great pictures. I just need to get the lens cleaned, but it will be just fine, don’t you worry.
This camera is amazing. This isn’t the first time that it was dropped or in an accident. This is just the first time I was in an accident with it. This camera takes some wonderful photos and, even though it is not marketed as such, it can take a beating! If I ever need to buy another camera it will just be another version of this one.
Let’s not keep Ganesh waiting.
At first we thought that we should just ride back into town and get some real first aid supplies. The people from the area made home-made bandages for us with gauze and scotch tape. It was functional and not fancy.
But we were way closer to the Buddha park than we were to town. Besides, when would we ever come back to Laos? We decided to go to the park and seek medical attention later. We were hurt, but not badly hurt. We did look a bit banged up though.
I’m glad we pressed on and saw the park. It was a fun afternoon. The only problem was knowing that we had a long scooter ride back to town.
We returned the scooter as soon as we got back even though it wasn’t due until the next morning. The scooter guy was surprised to see us. He was about to ask why we came back so early when he saw our legs and the broken mirror. “Oh, you fall off? Sorry. Be more careful next time.”
No. Scooter-Man, there will never be a next time. NEVER!
(ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ)
(Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao)
How to get there:
- You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
- You can get your visa before your trip to Laos, or you can buy a visa at the border.
- How much your visa costs depends on your nationality.
- People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
- To be completely sure, check with the Laotian embassy in your country.
- Tourism Authority +856-21-212251-Ext 103 or 101
- Emergency Numbers
- Police 191
- Fire & Ambulance 190
- Do not get more kip than you need. No one will buy kip from you whenit’s time to leave Laos.
- You can use baht here. Just know that your change will be in kip.
- If you get really sick, try to go to Thailand.
There are buses that take you from the Nong Khai bus station to Vientiane’s bus station.
- The first stop is at Thai immigration. Everybody gets off the bus and goes through the passport control. The buses are sometimes packed with people standing in the aisle, so I don’t know how they know when everyone is back on the bus. But, they do.
- Then they take you over Friendship Bridge and into Laos.
- The next stop is at Laos immigration. Once again everyone gets off and on again after passing through passport control. If you need to get a visa for Laos, bring a passport-sized photo of yourself and head to the “visa at the Border” line. It is the shortest line and it’s not the line where everyone else is standing. There is a sign posted that gives the cost of the visa depending on what country you are from. Once you get your passport back you can skip the other lines and just walk into the country.
- Then the bus takes you to the bus terminal in downtown Vientiane.
If you take the train to Nong Khai and take a tuk-tuk to the Thailand Passport control don’t worry. There is a shuttle for about 20THB that goes between the Thai and Laos immigration. So, there is no need to go to the bus station for the shuttle into Laos.
At the Laotian border, there are many cabs, tuk-tuk, and shuttles into Vientiane.
In Vientiane you can use Baht. Your change will be in Laotian KIP, though. Don’t get too much KIP because it’s hard to exchange KIP for anything else when you leave.
Renting a Scooter
- 50,000 – 90,000KIP depending on your bargaining skills
- Every other corner in Vientiane
- Anyone who owns a passport and can walk upright
- Don’t make sharp turns.
- Beware of people who drive on the wrong side of the road.
- Beware of one way roads that don’t really indicate that they are in fact one way roads.
- If possible don’t wear shorts.
- Wear thick jeans and maybe some leather gloves.
- In fact, why not just take a cab?
- Accidents are covered by the rental companies’ insurance. You on the other hand will need your own insurance. Make sure your travel insurance covers scooter accidents.
- 17°58’14.1″N 102°37’06.8″E
It’s in the middle of town on Lan Xang road
- It’s pretty much free to look at.
- If you want to go upstairs to see the city it will cost you 2,000KIP (.25USD).
- There are many vendors inside on your way up where you can buy overpriced tacky souvenirs.
- Okay, the souvenirs aren’t really that expensive, they just aren’t worth the asking price.
- But I assure you, they are quite tacky.
- Mon-Fri 8:00-16:30
- Sat-Sun 8:00-17:00
- Basically the US gave Laos money to build an Airport. Laos took the money and somehow ended up building this eye sore instead.
- It’s not that spectacular, but it is the thing to see when in Vientiane.
- The view from the top is not that great. You really pay to go to the top, to say you went up there.
- There is no free scooter parking near this thing.
How to get there:
- 17°57’57.5″N 102°36’40.0″E
- Head down the main road, Lan Xang toward the Mekong delta.
- After the 3rd intersection turn right. This turn is not an intersection.
- It should lead to a round-about that is around That Dam.
- This is out in the open, so you can view it at any time.
- The area is not well lit, so you might want to get there before dark.
- Don’t expect too much and don’t go out of your way to see That Dam.
- It’s not very interesting.
- This is supposed to have been the home of a naga that helped keep the Thai army from invading Laos years ago.
- It’s just nice enough for you to visit if you are nearby.
- There is nothing that special about That Dam, so if you’ve seen other stupas before, there’s no need to see this one.
- There is no real parking area, but you can park on the side of the road in the grass. You won’t be here long enough to get in anyone’s way.
- 17°54’44.3″N 102°45’55.2″E
- Go along Fa Ngum, the road that runs along the Mekong Delta.
- I think this road turns or ends. When this happens just turn right and keep going straight.
- You should only turn left when you come to a round-about with a clock in the middle of it. The clock will have a Laotian and a Japanese flag on it.
- You should be able to see the Mekong Delta on your right for most of your trip. When in doubt, stop and ask for directions. Be sure to have the name of the park written in Laotian.
- Then keep going straight. You will pass under Friendship Bridge and a thousand and one temples. Just keep going straight.
- It will be on your right. You can’t miss it. There is a field with large cement statues and a sign that says, “Buddha Park”.
- 5,000KIP per person
- 2,000KIP per camera.