Welcome to Laos

I made it into Laos today.

I took the night train from Bangkok which was nice and quiet until we hit a cow this morning around 08:00. The train stopped in the middle of the boonies so I knew something was up. After about 30 min I hopped off with everyone else to look around and saw the carnage. There was blood and bone fragments all over the wheels of my car, which was #9 back. The cow was not having such a very good day by the looks and smell of it.

Got scammed by a Thai business that “processed” my Laos visa for an extra 400 Baht before I left Nong Khai, the border town. They simply filled out the form which I could have done and walked me and some Canadian guys I met on the train through customs. We could have managed ourselves, but now we know.

I crossed into Laos and negotiated a minibus to Vientiane, the capitol and where I am sitting now.

Some Laos observations:

#1 The people are friendly. Thailand may be “land of the smiles” but Laos comes in a close second.

#2 Laos is communist. Oops…didnt realize but the hammer and sickle flags on every pole and the soldiers walking around with red arm bands and AK47s were a dead giveaway.

#3 It is hot. SO bloody hot. How can you go 12 hours north and be hotter here than in the islands? It is. Very hot and dry, there is dust on everything and the beautiful Mekkong river I am staying near is a dried up muddy mess. Right about now Im asking myself why I left the islands or why I didnt make my visa run to Malaysia 🙂

#4 The French like it here. This is one of several old French colonies so there are a lot of French here. Signs are in Laotian and French, French cafes, bicycles, long loafs of French bread, etc. In fact, there are small cafes with sidewalk tables and people smoking weird cigarettes and sipping wine. You might think it was Paris for an instant before the stray dog, the soldier with an AK, and the motorcycle cart selling fried bats rolls by. 🙂

#5 Money here is mad! They accept US dollars, Thai Baht, Lao Kip, and Euros. Most prefer dollars or Kip it seems. The exchange is $1 = 10,296 KIP. The largest bill they offer is 20K Kip ($2). So, you always have this enormous wad of money flashing it around when you buy something like some hip hop artist…but in reality it might add up to $5.

#6 Vientiane is boring! There is NOTHING here. Even the locals agree. It is simply a staging area to go somewhere else. So….

I leave tomorrow by bus to go farther north to Vang Vieng…or Vieng Vang…who knows. I love having an itenerary to towns with names that I cant even pronounce or remember.

My guesthouse is a total dive, but it was only 120Baht (US$3) a night. They have a midnight curfue because they lock the doors for security. Also, I noticed that there are 2 soldiers at each end of my street here…kind of the backpackers area of Vientiane. I dont know if they are protecting us from them or them from us…but they all have folding stock AK47s hanging around their necks so I dont even as much as jaywalk here!

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  1. Your not having Nam flashbacks being so close to the Mekong are you?

  2. Vientiane is boring, because it is too peacful right? May be Bang Kok is more interesting, because it has a lot of crimes. interesting to look, but afraid to stay.

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