3/23 – Today is our last day in China, and we have some errands to run. Most important, Jim has to find some more Lipitor. We’ve had no trouble refilling his prescription in Europe, Türkiye, and the former Soviet countries, but this medicine is prohibitively expensive in China. Jim’s research indicates that cholesterol medicine is not something widely prescribed here. After trying several pharmacies, we walked into a hospital and tried the pharmacy there. They had the generic equivalent of Zocor, a similar drug, so we purchased a month’s worth, standing on three different lines to get registered in the system, pay up front, then collect the pills. Bureaucracy aside, we probably got them faster then waiting for a pickup at Walgreens, and without a word of language…
We ate lunch, packed up and left our hotel by 3pm, to take the Metro to the South Coach Station for our bus to Laos. The Metro is brand-sparkly new, with attendants to help you purchase tickets from automated machines, and attendants to help you board the train. This photo courtesy of Google.
You wait for your train behind a wall with sliding glass doors that don’t open until the train arrives, so no one can accidentally fall onto the tracks.
The stations are announced both in Chinese and English. The cars weren’t packed full. It was a great experience!
Kunming recently built four bus stations located at the four compass points of the city, to spread out the traffic jams that used to occur at the central bus station. If you are traveling south, your bus leaves from the South station. So logical! Here is Jim waiting for our bus to arrive.
We boarded our overnight sleeper bus at 6pm for the 400 mile, 24 hour trip south across the Chinese border at Mohan to Luang Prabang, Laos. Some of the buses looked new and posh, but ours looked like it had seen better days, and lots of mud.
The bus has three rows of double-decker bunks running head-to-toe, and an area in the back where it looks like lots of people are just crammed together. No toilet on board, but we understand that the bus will stop every few hours.
Jim and I have bunks on the left aisle, so we can see out the window. The folks in the middle aren’t so lucky. We’ve been issued blankets and pillows covered with light blue flannel sheets featuring Snoopy (spelled Snopy – in China, close is good enough…) and Woodstock – this is going to be just like a fun sleepover! At 5’6″, I fit comfortably in my bunk, with my feet touching the board at Jim’s head. At 6’3″, Jim looks like a pretzel. One of our fellow passengers pantomimed that Jim would be better off stretching out on the floor! Before too long, the rocking of the bus lulled us to sleep.
3/24 – at 2am, the bus stopped, and stayed stopped until 5am. What’s the use of an all night bus if it’s not going to drive all night? We’ll never know. Today is Jim’s birthday. He said there is no way he would rather spend his day…
At 10am we reached the border at Mohan, and officially left China, then walked up to the golden stupa that welcomed us to Laos.
This epic saga continues in the next post!
Luang Prabang, Laos