Roof of the 09:00AM bus was full, so the remaining sacks, boxes & bags had to be passed through the windows & door & stacked on the last row of seats:
The 11:30AM bus was already being loaded, with a bunch of guys hauling a washing machine onto the roof with a piece of rope.
The 09:00AM bus filled up & ID cards/passports/entry permits were inspected. Huge argument as 2 PRC guys were not allowed to board. Lao officials insisted that they pay a fine & get some stamp on their entry permit at the immigration office in town...which they had already done earlier in the morning, & so they were upset at having to travel back & forth again & pay the fine a second time in order to leave Huay Xai.
Every bit of space was fully utilised. Those with seats had to sit with their feet resting on boxes stuffed beneath the seats, knees to chest or even chin. Those without seats sat on sacks of rice stacked in the aisle or stood on the steps at the door:
10 minutes out of Huay Xai, a Yunnan guy filled up the space behind white windbreaker lady, sitting on the sack + white plastic bag of string beans + cat's soon-to-be-paralysed knees. The cat could no longer move its paws to take any more photos, & would later sit sideways instead of facing front, in order to have space for its feet. Wonder if Mr Yunnan boarded the bus outside of Huay Xai to avoid the Lao officials & entry permit inspection ;)
During the 8 hour ride the cat spoke in Chinese to Mr Sichuan on its right & Mr Yunnan in front, English to French lady #1 on its left (who would translate into French to French lady #2) & Mr German, & broken Thai to Mr Thai & girlfriend behind, with the Lao listening in & picking up whatever words they managed to understand. Dizzy-ingly surreal when everyone asked questions all at the same time & expected the cat to translate on the fly whatever they wanted to say to fellow passengers. Much like scenes from Asterix comics where characters of various nationalities interact, speaking in different languages represented by speech balloons with different fonts or symbols like this (Gothic) & this (Egyptian) (many examples to be found in Asterix the Legionary).
Essentials for surviving a Lao bus ride:
white baci string tied around wrist (left), super sweet orange juice imported from Thailand (middle bottom), steamed bamboo rice (upper right), & great sense of humour (not in picture).