A Bus Journey to Remember (Long Read)

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One of the worst bus journey’s I have ever taken

When it comes to travelling, anybody that has been to a less developed country for an extended period know it isn’t all sunshine, rainbows and Instagram poses. 

Things break. Things take longer than you expect. Buses don’t run on time. 

After a few months of travelling around Asia, I was used to this. I had taken plenty of local buses. Plenty of night buses as well just so I could save some pennies on accommodation that night.

But some are worse than others.

I’ve taken plenty more buses since this one but I still don’t think anything has come close to the memories that this etched into my brain.

A journey through Laos

Sometimes I love travel. Sometimes it’s not quite as glamorous. This was a time of the latter. Below are the notes I made on my phone at the time:

I got to bus station in a corner of Vientiane at 6.30. But the bus didn’t leave until 8. Great. I got on and noticed that the seats were in the shared sleeper style. This means I’ll be lying on a mattress next to some Lao stranger for 10 hours. Even worse, it’s a Lao woman who has also bought her 1 year old baby along (I don’t know how old it is but probably between 9 months and 2 years is my guess).

The following are my notes of the event that I took at the time:

10 minutes in: time for a nappy change

15 minutes in: Time for a 4 course picnic of bread rolls, oranges and an assortment of other food. It’s half past 8?!?!

30 minutes in: Lights go off. I’ll stop reading my book then shall I? It must be bed time. Nope let’s start playing music

30 minutes to 1 hour in: Said baby decides to use sleeping Mum as a climbing frame. “Sleeping” Dan has a baby falling on him which he gently pushes back over to its rightful owner

I’m under the blanket on the right. You can see how little room we have. The baby is out of shot.


1 hour 15 in: Mum puts baby in pyjamas. Mum then a throws up her 4 course picnic from earlier. This continues for sometime. Whilst mum is otherwise occupied baby opens and closes the curtains many times for unknown reasons. Mum vomits into a bag which she politely ties up and hangs in the corner for later.

1 hour 30 minutes in: This becomes too much for Dan who decides to start recording the journey for future use as a blog post. Whist I am typing, baby decides to continue using Mum as a climbing frame whilst also attempting some head banging.

1 hour 31 minutes in: The babies’ spidey sense is tingling. It knows it’s being written about by a westerner. Queue crying.

1 hour 32 minutes in: Baby uses Dans stomach as a resting board for its head whilst mum checks the nappy. It’s clean thankfully.

2 hours 30 minutes in: The miniature human and its owner are now asleep.

3 hours in: People have started going to the toilet. I’m opposite the toilet. Every time the door opens I get another waft of the finest Lao urine. The Lao urine receptor in my nose sends signals to my brain saying “what the fuck is that rank smell, don’t sleep near that!” Which is causing sleep to be difficult

3 hours 26 minutes in: I think the sleeping mum next to me is made of flubber. She seems to be spreading out more and more. She’s currently pressing up against me. Do I a) elbow her in the kidneys until she moves over or b) be very British and be inconvenienced and squashed up against a metal railing whilst keeping quiet?

3 hours 29 minutes: I’m far too British. It still stinks of piss.

I was so happy at this point


6 hours in: I’ve got some sleep. I’ve woken up and my body is pressed against the metal bar the other side of me. I’m lying on my side. I can’t roll over onto my back because the mum is pushed up against me. That can’t be comfy for her?!? I try and roll over and push her away. Turns out the baby is starfished in the corner leaving half the “bed” for me and mum. Thanks miniature human….

6.20 am: Arrive and I get off, mum and baby are still asleep. I don’t know what for.

I don’t think I’d ever been so happy to get off a bus and get to a guesthouse

What is one of the worst journeys you’ve ever done? 

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