I’m in Vientiane for provisions and a haircut. Yesterday I spent a long 10 hours on the bus from Luang Prabang, an exhausting ride with constant winding on switchbacks on a narrow mountain highway. I swear there wasn’t a 100-yard straightaway or a bridge the whole way except for a brief period on a valley floor near Vang Viang. I feel like I did a thousand ab crunches just holding myself upright in the rocking bus all day. The scenery was as weird and dramatic as advertised. Today was all about laundry, chocolate and freshening up. Luckily my hairstyling needs are as easy to communicate here as in Vietnam.
I could have had a tougher trip, though. Along the way, I met Jim Harris, a retired school principle from Wausau, Wisconsin who had been traveling by bus for three days. He was in the far northern interior where he camps for 6 months a year working to find and clear unexploded ordnance from villages and farmland. (He’s also been a big help pointing me to a hotel and other sites in Vientiane.) Check out the nonprofit organization he and his wife started at www.wehelpwarvictims.org.