A quick trip to Vientiane, Laos

Finally, I had word that I was to go on a quick Visa run over the border to Laos. Another stamp in my passport and another country.

I left Nangrong on Sunday, with my visa documents, passport and a bag with a few items of clothes in. I took the bus to Korat (Nakhon Ratchasima) where I would be meet my consultants from Media kids who would make sure I got on my way to Laos. Arriving in Korat was a shock to my system, it is a small city and being back in one after 3 weeks of being in a small town gave me my first taste of culture shock in Thailand. What was this I was seeing…The crazy traffic that South East Asia is known for, western restaurants, civilisation. It was a strange feeling.

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Nangrong Bus station
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Visa documents

The whole part of getting to Laos just felt like I was getting smuggled all the way there. I got picked up at a night market about 15km north from the centre of Korat and basically just slept all the way to the border. We arrived at the border at 3 am and had to wait around for 3 hours for the border to open at 6 am. Why the bus couldn’t have set off later so we could have arrived closer to 6 am is beyond me. There was nothing to do but to sit outside the 7/11 and eat cheese and ham toasties. I found Louis there, a guy from the Philippines who also works for MediaKids, so luckily I wasn’t alone for long. I sat and chatted with him and his friends for a few hours to kill the time. The crowds started to gather at the border come 5:30 am, The sun was starting to rise and the morning mosquitoes were out to feed on the crowd. I was armed with DEET spray so they were not getting me today.

The border opene6:00 pm and the crowd just ran towards the Thai passport control. I ended up lining up in the wrong line and not in the overstay queue where I was supposed to be. I ended up getting moved there by an immigration officer and in front of a group of angry looking Russian women. It’s not like I pushed in there intentionally, I was put there by someone otherwise I’d of happily gone to the back. I got my passport stamped out of Thailand and paid a 1000baht (£20) fine for being 2 days late over the border from when my tourist visa ran out. I then proceeded to get on the free shuttle bus that took everyone over the Thai-Laos friendship bridge to the Laos border.

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The Thai- Laos Border
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On the bus crossing the Thai-Laos Friendship bridge

We got there, the morning sun was heating up now. I gave my passport to the visa company so they could get my visa for Laos. I stood around waiting for about what felt like forever. I was so bored but then luckily I saw a few of people I recognised from the MediaKids orientation week. Zac, Olga and her boyfriend Fabio. I ended up chatting with them and they invited me for cheese and wine later on in Vientiane. I happily accepted. Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love cheese and living in Thailand and their lack of cheese just isn’t cutting it for me, and I will confess I do enjoy a cheeky glass of wine now and then, another thing that is like gold dust to find in Thailand.

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Waiting at the Laos border

The whole procedure, took around 5 hours to get all my documents sorted at the Thai Embassy in Vientiane and to get to a hotel. The first hotel we went to was full so we were taken to another. It seemed like such a downgrade. My room smelt so bad but I suppose it was only for 1 night. We got our free breakfast on arrival, which was basically just bread and fried eggs, but it went down a treat. I was so tired but stupid me decided to drink a bottle of red bull and that was it, I was WIDE awake for the day. Everyone else went to sleep, I ended up sitting outside talking to the Filipino guys again for about another 3 hours before I decided I should actually do something with the one day I had in Vientiane.

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The queue at the Thai Embassy
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The queue was still big even after I had got through

got ready and headed out to meet Zac, Olga and Fabio. I took a tuktuk to the bar they were at, right on the Mekong river, where we drank beer Laos with a view. Laos traditional beer.

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We then went for a walk to find a wine bar. Vientiane has such a laid back vibe, much more relaxed than any capital city in South East Asia I have been to. No crazy motorbikes flying at you from all angles like in Hanoi or endless traffic jams and pollution like in Bangkok. Every time you look up to the buildings you can see how the French has influenced the amazing architecture. Vientiane is just such a beautiful city.

We found a french wine bar that also did cheese and cold cut meat boards. It was expensive but for one day only I didn’t mind as it was a rare treat. The wine was amazing, one of the smoothest wines I have had. It went down far to easily. I opted for the cold cut meat board but ended up getting some cheese with it too. The cheese was amazing, the flavours just lingered in my mouth for a while. I was in cheese heaven. I was completely happy in this moment. I had gotten my fix. I wish I could take it back to Thailand with me.

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By the time I got back to the hotel, I was shattered. The day had completely caught up with me. The Filipinos were singing karaoke and drinking the hotel dry of beerlaos. It was funny to watch. They tried to get me to sing but i politely said no but if they bought me a bottle of liqueur I’d happily do it. They laughed so loud at that one but I never saw that bottle.

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I gave up for the day. Went to bed but woke up in the middle of night, itchy as hell. It was that bad I had to get in the shower at 4am to cool down. My body was on fire. Turns out the bites were from bed bugs, so i ended up sleeping the rest of the night on the top of the covers. Thank goodness, I wasn’t staying there another night.

The next day. We left the hotel and headed to the border where we were dropped off at the duty free stalls for about 3 hours of shopping. I don’t know why we needed that long when the duty free wasn’t that big. I had time to eat so took the chance to get some fresh spring rolls which I haven’t had since I was in Vietnam nearly a year ago.

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Fresh Spring Rolls

We waited around to be called out to cross the border back to Thailand. We were given our passports back and I opened it up and finally after all the stress and worry about getting my Non B Type Immigrant visa for working in Thailand, I had been granted it. A weight lifted off my shoulders.

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Finally

Just when I thought South East Asia could capture me anymore than it already has, Laos is a country that is completely different to its neighbours of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Even though my time in Laos was very short, I am looking forward to going back and spending an extended trip there and see more of the beautiful country. Perhaps in April/May I will return again and I cannot wait.

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