Driving in Laos, I've discovered, is not as simple a process as I previously thought. It is at once dodging children, livestock, and other motorists with no care whatsoever to speed limits, human safety, the well-being of the vehicle, or the stress levels of the passengers.
Today we left Luang Prabang on minibus (10 passenger van) to Phonsavan. The first hour was spent driving continuously up a mountain which had literally no straight sections. We would pass big trucks blind around hair pin turns at high speeds. Villages lined the highway along its length so children and animals were constantly out on the road. Our driver's response to these obstacles was to honk and maintain his course. Every few kilometers a road sign in the shape of a tombstone marked the distance to the nearest town, an omen, I thought. I imagined every sign as a life lost over the side of the road.
We spent six hours in the van. We made it to Phonsavan safely and I'm amazed that no one was sick as we were jostled about constantly on the way. We have two options now. The first is to maintain our course and experience at least three mor nail-biting drives like we had today. Or, we could blow our budget and fly out of here to the capital and then into Vietnam.
I'm tempted not to post this for the benefit of our mothers who have enough stresses in their lives without worrying about their children endangering themselves on the other side of the world. Sorry moms.