It is never a pleasant experience taking an overnight bus, unless of course you are some sort of sleep deprivation masochist, but “sleeper” overnight buses in Laos have taken the experience to a whole new level. Instead of the typical 3 aisles of bunked bobsled-style beds found on most Chinese and Southeast Asian overnight buses, in Laos you can enjoy the comfort of bunked horizontal single-sized beds… made to fit TWO people. Let me repeat that; 2 rows of flat, single-sized beds for two. No divider, no separation, no nothing. Just two people (most likely random), one single bed, on a bus that weaves and rolls through the mountains.
Let’s face it; some people just need a cuddle or gentle spooning in order to reach the profoundest depths of sleep. Some people don’t mind whose warm sweaty body is touching theirs as they drift off to the sweet unknown. Some people like the thrill of bunking with a “local” or “foreigner”, especially one of the opposite sex. If you are not one of these people, be warned; it could be a long night.
Couples will find the single bed tight and “hot” (pun intended). If you’re traveling in a large mixed group, you’ll have to decide early on who you’re willing to share your personal space with, or who you want to get to know on a whole different level. For travelers looking for an excuse to take things to the next level, this situation may not be that bad at all, and in fact, might be something you scheme towards. For travelers looking to avoid “Tommy Touches Too Much,” or “Sally Sleazebucket”, consider choosing your bedmates wisely.
For those traveling completely solo, the situation is much like one of those awkward grade school dances where everyone sheepishly hopes to dance with someone, though no one is willing to ask. Unfortunately in this case however, no one is allowed to hide in the dark “loner” corner and wait for the lights to come on at the end of the night. In fact, the old adage of “the early bird gets the worm” rings loud and clear, because when the music starts, you might not be pleased with who you’re toe-tapping with through the night. In the end, your best bet is to choose the person who fits the “it could be worse” profile and snuggle in beside them with nothing more than a smile and a “hmm… how about that!?”