The third world

Ban Houayxay Travel Blog

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First order of business in Laos is my visa application. On the far bank of the river there was a table where a couple of friendly officials were handing out application forms and helping falangs fill them in. In Laos, 'friendly official' isn't an oxymoron. Handed over my passport, forms, photos and $35 in cash at one window, got stamped into the country at another window and changed three thousand Baht into eight hundred and seven thousand kip at a third window. Bought a ticket for the slow boat to Luang Prabang and a bright red cushion covered in French sweater-wearing teddy bears. That was a hell of an investment and if you're taking the boat to Luang Prabang, I'd heartily recommend it.

The atmosphere in Huay Xai felt more like Myawadi than anywhere in Thailand. Barely any traffic and the shops were less developed - as befits a country where they've only had private enterprise for ten or twenty years. I was nervous, in a way I hadn't been in Myawadi: Laos was clearly poorer, less developed than Thailand; I felt that much further from home. I know how weedy that seems now but seven weeks into my trip I was still feeling my way. And I wasn't going back to Thailand in a couple of hours: this was travel for the next month or so.
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Ban Houayxay
photo by: rjgalvan77