READER REPORT:

Puddle jumping to Asia

CHRIS HUGHES
Last updated 05:00 03/10/2012
Travellers tales ASS

ALL CHANGE: We booked a series of flights from Auckland-Sydney-Bali-Kuala Lumpur-Vientienne.

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I still remember travelling up into Asia when I did my first OE.

Being brave we booked a series of flights from Auckland-Sydney-Bali-Kuala Lumpur-Vientienne (Laos) as a non-stop journey that took over 30 hours and involved sleeping on check-in counter belts (more comfortable than you might think if you know how to use the scales as a stand-in pillow).

When we arrived we discovered the ASEAN games (Asia's version of the Olympics) were being held - and promises of a cheap night's sleep after all this travelling went out the door. The only room under $20 was an inside room where the only window was a hole someone had punched through the wall.

Needless to say - we didn't stay. So we jumped on a bus to Luang Prabang with promises of a quick four-hour trip north.

Over 12 hours later, in the middle of the night (and having shared the bus with various elderly people who couldnt keep their lunch down  - and right next to the on-board toilet (sawed-out hole in the floor) the bus crept into town.  It was well after the midnight curfew and we went door-knocking for a place to sleep as this was the first real night of our OE.

My travelling companion and I were within an inch of killing each other at this point.

At another stage in our trip, we were in Myanmar when we decided we wanted to go a bit off the beaten track, so we jumped onto a train to Mawlmyine with promises of a far away land that was scenic and undeveloped.

After a day-long train ride - at a maximum speed of 30kmh with protesters with guns holding the train ransom - we arrived, not realising there were only three places in town 'licensed' for tourists.

And so a race with the other 10 tourists on the train began - to check out all three before the rooms filled up. After examining the first one - best described as a series of bamboo prison cells - we found one with no power, but large enough rooms. Add to that a city where all the men were well and truly cooked on a variety of hallucinogenic berries (don't bother asking for a ride anywhere - you get met with a grin full of chewed berries). 

We had 20kg backpacks and 40 degree heat - a seriously miserable afternoon.


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