It was a long day of travel today. I went from my quiet stay in the Mut Mee Guesthouse on the banks of the Mekong River in Nong Khai, Thailand and crossed the border into Laos. I had changed money back into US dollars to pay the $35 visa fee. I'd had 4 visa sized photos made and had read how to best do the visa process in several guide books.
In theory it was easy enough, take a tuk-tuk to the Friendship Bride which crosses the Mekong and takes you into Laos. The first stop you get your passport stamped saying that you left Thailand. Then you catch a bus that actually takes you across the bridge into Laos. There you fill out a form, hand over your passport, photos and money and get your visa. What they don't tell you about is the very long line of foreigners cutting in front of you (especially the older men who are just there on a visa run so they can stay in Thailand with their girlfriends), a problem exacerbated with each new bus arriving, and then there's the fact that there's only one window to go to, but in the end, I got it taken care of and finally got to enter Laos with my new visa filling yet another page in my passport. And then you had to wait for another tuk-tuk to actually bring you into Vientiane, the biggest city in Laos. I shared it with a kiwi girl and two very nice (looking) French guys. I was the last to get dropped off at the bus station and there I caught the public bus to Vang Viang.
First though I had some noodle soup. And it was then I noticed there was something wrong with my left arm. It was shaking, so much that it was hard to use the chopsticks. Was I afraid of being on my own? I didn't think so, but perhaps. Had I pinched a nerve carrying all my bags, getting heavier by the day as I pick up more and more stuff, that seems more likely. So I decide not to worry. I catch the bus and have to laugh each time my window slams shut. Finally the bus "steward" takes pity on me and shoves a piece of paper in the window to help keep it open. And it works and is great, until it starts to pour rain. Overall though, the 4 hour trip was pleasant and the scenery kept getting better and better as we wound further into the hills. Finally we arrive at a teeny bus station and the foreigners exclaiming "this is really it?" I'm so excited that I jump off with my bags... leaving my damned metal water bottle sitting on the seat. Why am I always losing it?
Um, Nate, can you bring me another one when you come out in September?
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