Time to celabrate, we're in THAILAND. Last time we spoke andy and hayley had left for the 4000 islands and Cambodia, Dan and chantal were jetting to Bangkok, Hong Kong then china, which left us billy no mates once again. We could have hopped on a bus and gone tubing again or we could have forked out $180/person to see the plain of jars,( they really should stop people smoking crack before they go to work!!) we could have even gone straight to Chang Mai ( with a fifteen day border crossing, then hoped for a visa extension in Bangkok) instead we hung round luang prabang for a couple more days eatting meat on sticks and enjoying the mellow vibes, untill, we checked our passport, we had to leave laos in three days major panic, it takes the best part of a day to get to vientaine (eleven hours or so with no night bus option?? How rude) then two days for the sixty day tourist visa to Thailand, we would be cutting it fine to say the least, and if we didn't make it on time it's a $10 fine per person per day.
We packed our gear and booked the painfully early six am cheap air-con??, just a con bus to no wheres villa in Vientaine, where at four pm we discovered that booking a room on line would have helped in the hardest city in laos to find nice, cheap digs. It felt like death march time, but instead, i left hev with a book and a drink and set off with my "hunter gatherer" head on, and in two short hours i had found the cheapest worst room in south east asia, which we didn't stay in we opted for the far more expensive, clean, hot water, air-con, HBO room, well every now and then you have to spoil yourself, this travelling lark is hard work!! That evening we went for a beer and food in a river side restraunt, where you sat on the floor at tractor tyre tables and cooked youre own food in a clay pot, fantastic, we figured, get to the Thai embassy early and put the passports in, pay for the visa, then go film some sights, next day out of laos with no fine, no problems!
The Thai embassy was shut because of the corranation of the king??, which meant a Thai public holiday! We didn't panic we just went to six different lao goverment offices trying to get a two day extension, which is just a stamp, we, after a lot of walking and asking dirrections, eventually got to the right building, where a notice told us '$2/person/day extension', excelent, or so we thought, they would not simply stamp our passports, they wanted us to fill in visa extension form, which we had to pay for, the form then had to be sent up stairs to the boss who had to decide, wether to grant us a extension or scratch himself, if he did grant the extension the form and our passports then had to be sent to 'THE BIG BOSS' who had to decide whether to stamp our passports or take a nap, so all in all we would know some time in the year 2020 if the extension had been granted, with steam billowing out of BOTH of us we left through the blue air of laos backward system, stuff them i would rather pay twenty dollars than deal with the f*&$witts in charge of the visas department. We spent the rest of the day brooding over this set back, vowing to leave as soon as we could.
We got up early and dragged ourselves across town, again to the Thai embassy, we got there at eight am and joined the cue, we got visa ticket numbers 488 and 489. This was a painfully slow day, you have to wait to have youre number called, starting at one, to hand your completed paperwork and passports in to the officals, you then have to wait in the second cue for youre recipt, the only two bright spots ( turns out later to be one) in this gray day were Juma cookies and coke, sooo good, and that we found a ticket on the grass, so that the next day we could get through the security early claiming we were getting our recipt, then be the first in the cue to pick up or visas, genius!!
There were no cues for recipts the next day, so the genius plan failed, we got tickets 389 and 390 starting at 100, gutted yet another long wait, we were given ticket 373 by two english lads that found an earlier ticket on the floor, when we got or visas, we spoted a young english couple with a little girl so gave them ticket 389, as they were 859 they were quite chuffed and we could leave lao feeling we had helped someone else leave too.
We jumped on the first tuk-tuk, went to our hotel loaded our bags on board and shouted "THAILAND JAMES!" he stood and stared so we asked "freindship bridge" he smiled and noded and we were off to...his mates van as he didn't do the friendship bridge run, so on board our new vehical we raced ever nearer the boarder, fully prepaired to pay to get the hell outa lao. We cued again, no tickets this time, and when it came to our turn lao did not disapoint, we handed over the passports, he stamped them and gave them back, if we would have been fined he would have been the first person actually doing his job, instead of deciding which finger he should jam up his nose next!
We were home free, on a bus and then through Thai passport controll, to be met by the tuk-tuk mafia, who will change kip100000($12) for 100 bhat($3.25) and wont except kip for the 60 baht ride to town, untill they realise the words you're saying arnt 'yes please, rip me off', and the tears are from laughing not from the thought of having to walk. Our driver took kip, dropped us off in the middle of town, then pointed the wrong bloody way, which took us an hour to realise, but as meatloaf said "Two outa three aint bad". We found a nice clean guesthouse thats as in the middle of things as you could want, we have been here four days now, slowly wandering through the meandering river front market were you can buy anything you're heart desires, as long as its a toy machine gun or a great bloody sword, we've tryed a dozen different wines on the premise we are going to buy a bottle, which we did, it was just a small bottle of lychees wine, which was suprisingly good. We have tried to find a resturant that is said to have the best food in Nong Khai with little sucsess, but the places we have found have been so good that the thought of finding the"golden fleece" of resturants has started to make my mouth water, we have walked to a temple and watched local kids launch home made rockets, which scared the be jesus out of the pair of us, there was just a loud "Wooosh" then nothing, the kids sheepishly walked past as if 'it was me guv honest'. We took pics of the sunken temple in the middle of the river then managed to get three more pics before the batteries gave up the ghost and that was the end of the pics for the day.We hired some bikes and rode the wrong way to a sculpture park which was a more secnic route but the same distance? The park is of every religion (well, the main ones, you know the important ones) around the world in gaint statue form, weirdly most of the statues look like nagga or buddha, not really sure what other statues were all about but it was a great ride and a good day out, met an old dude who was covered in tats, but loved mine, that seems to be the way, every one except marion loves my tat.
Tomorrow were getting the train to koen khan, the start of our trip up to chang mai, to hopefully go elephant trecking at last! Any way, as per ive wafled on for ages so"If he were an ice cream flavor, he'd be pralines and dick!"
Love the shoe string two xoxo.