It takes 7 hours to reach Phonsavan from Vang Vieng, and the minibus traveled past the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. I felt like I should be in Middle Earth (after eschewing The Hobbit in favor of something a little more embarrassing for my minibus reading material, even!)
The landscape changed from these glorious karst mountains to rounder, softer hills and then suddenly there were pine trees! And it smelled like cattle and pine and I could have been anywhere, if not for the occasional banana tree and valley full of rice.
And then it was just soft, rolling hills, and I saw a larger-than-I-expected flat city of shop houses, and I hoped that it wasn't Phonsavan, but it was. The end of the line, for now.