Part 4. ( Arriving in Laos)

Nong Khai Travel Blog

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Me and co-traveler Pavel by the Mekong. On the other side you can see Laos already.

In certain situations I really prefer night buses. You save money for the accomodation, save valuable time if the trip takes long and you get forward while you sleep. If you are able to fall asleep of course. This is something I’ve learned and got trained on lots of previous trips. Pavel makes sometimes fun of me that I’m able to fall asleep in every ocasion if I want to and that I could oversleep an earthquake ( probably he’s right, hehe). If there will be ever an armageddon and the end of world, wake me up when it’s over, hahaha.

Back to the trip, as I mentioned before in certain situations I really prefer night buses.

It was early morning when we were suddenly approaching the Mekong river and the border to Laos.

Crossing the friendship bridge between Thailand and Laos.
The name of the border town where we stopped was Nong Khai. After a short break and  the Thai passport procedure at a wooden platform next to the river our bus drove us to the so called Thai-Lao Friendship bridge. On its other end the bus stopped again and all the passengers got out. This was supposed to be the busiest border point between the two countries and seeing all the people moving forward I couldn’t do anything else then agree. Most of the people here had to get first the Lao visa, they were standing either in the queue for the application or sitting around filling in their data. We had our visas already, but we had to wait for Christine. I used the opportunity to exchange some US dollars into Lao kip. The rate was 1 USD = 10.000 kip. And guess what, the 10.000 kip note was the one with the highest value. I exchanged 100 USD and became a millionaire from one moment into another. A millionaire with a huge bunch of banknotes.
Lao passport control
I looked more like a drug dealer, hahaha.

It took Christine about half an hour to get the visa and then she joined us into the queue for the passport control. Segej passed first, Pavel second and then me. Behind the Lao passport control there was another desk where they were charging another 20 baht for some ridiculous reason I don’t remember anymore. Probably because we were breathing their air or something. Sergej was already behind the desk and he was giving me secret signs to just pass by the other side while a tourist in front of me was paying. The Lao officer couldn’t see me this way. I hesitated a second, but then did what Sergej suggested. Not because 20 baht was much, just because I don’t like it when states are trying to rip off people.

From here a Lao bus took us the missing 22km to Vientiane, the Lao capital.

Travelling to Vang Vien
I’ve been exchanging messages from my cellphone with my Lao friend Mit from early morning.

Mit offered to pick us up but we had already almost an hour delay. And there seemed to be another problem. My cellphone seemed not to get a signal in Laos. Damned...I needed to message Mit where we got off the bus as this place in Vientiane obviously wasn’t the usual arrival point. Finally I got a signal from a Thai provider and sent my friend quickly a message hoping it would arrive. About 20 minutes later I heard somebody saying my name behind my back. There he was, my friend Mit. We haven’t seen for 3 years since I left Tsukuba as my exchange semester in Japan was finished. We graeted each other and I introduced him the others.

We planned to take a bus directly to Vang Vieng in the afternoon.

Sergej in our hostel room.
Mit had to finish something at work, but he promissed that he would join us a day later. But before taking the bus we had to do some arrangements. Already in Bangkok I recieved a message from Mit that on the road to Luang Prabang a bandit was assaulting buses and that the Lao police was trying to catch him. So far without any success unfortunatly. We took this seriously as Mit was really concerned about the risk we would run. OK, we couldn’t take the bus, but no way we would skip Luang Prabang. As far as I heard this city is the number one highlight of every trip to Laos. Mit suggested to take a flight with the Lao airlines, the tickets were supposed to cost only around 60 USD one way. Well, we had no other choice, did we? We had a girl with us and I prefered not to imagine what bandits could do to her. Mit leaded us to his minivan in which we put our luggage and then he pointed on a building about 100 meters ahead of us. “That’s the office of Lao Airlines” he said. Oh, how convenient. With Mit’s help it took us maybe half an hour and we had the flight tickets to Luang Prabang in our hands.      Then our first Lao lunch and it was time to get to the bus station. Because of Christine who had problems with motion sickness and seemed quite tired anyway we decided to take a better bus, even ifit resulted a couple of dollars more for the ride. Forget bus time tables, they might be good for some orientation, but that’s all. In Laos it’s still common that a bus doesn’t leave before it isn’t more or less full. So we had to wait until the guys collected enough foreigners (no Lao people were travelling with us) so we could finally leave…around 1 ½ hours later. Ahhh, whatever. In Laos you slow down automatically. 

Around 3 hours later we suddenly reached Vang Vieng, it was getting dark already. We chose already in the bus an accommodation in the Lonely Planet guidebook, we just had to find it. The only problem…we were 3 guys and 1 girl. I noticed that Christine has been talking in the bus with her neighbour, a blond girl, so I suggested her to ask her (her name was Sherry as we soon found out) if they could take a room together. She agreed and soon we were 5 walking around and searching for the particular hostel. Christine had no real orientation sense so she left everything on us. And she did well, couple of minutes later we were checking in. Really nice rooms, me, Pavel and  Sergej were supposed to pay together some 7 USD for the night. Welcome to Laos , haha. The rest of the evening was calm, we just went to have some dinner and afterwards for a walk.

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Me and co-traveler Pavel by the Me…
Me and co-traveler Pavel by the M…
Crossing the friendship bridge bet…
Crossing the friendship bridge be…
Lao passport control
Lao passport control
Travelling to Vang Vien
Travelling to Vang Vien
Sergej in our hostel room.
Sergej in our hostel room.
Nong Khai
photo by: Laurabob