|So it is as we feared: the one-day, medium-speed boat we were hoping to catch to Luang Prabang tomorrow morning is non-existent. We just arrived in Laos without much fanfare. Although, it was pretty interesting to cross a border by longtailed boat. Definitely a first in my life. We filled out all the necessary paperwork and paid our Visa fee in US dollars. In fact, they preferred it over Lao kip or Thai baht. We even were able to help out some other travelers from Belgium and Quebec who were short on US dollars and needed to exchange. It was fortuitous that we had enough dollars leftover to spare, they were tucked away and almost forgotten in my pack while the rest had long since been exchanged for baht in Bangkok.
So rather than spend another day wasting time in an ugly border town only to be followed by two hot days on a crowded boat, we decided to take two young kiwi girls’ advice and got a bus ticket to LP overnight. A cantankerous old Lao lady had tried to bribe us into staying the night at her guesthouse in order to give us more information about the boat, and was then very upset when I opted to give our business to the travel agency next door for our bus tickets rather than buy through her. I’m getting rather tired of being seen as $$$$$$ rather than an actual human being looking for help. We are curious about the culture and lives of another country and I can’t imagine treating travelers to the US in this manner if I was in her shoes, but I suppose that’s just the way it has to be.
I am excited to arrive in LP tomorrow, everything I have read and heard from other travelers sounds good. And the time we get back by not taking a slow boat at least affords us a few leisurely days to enjoy this new country. The plan is to cross back into Thailand via Vientiane (the capital of Laos) to expedite our journey to Cambodia where we will check out Angkor Wat and maybe even go south to Phnom Penh, and then go back and up through Bangkok to southern Thailand to spend our last weeks relaxing on the beaches. Our criss-cross itinerary is perhaps not ideal but we are seeing a lot of the countryside this way at least! No chickens on the busses yet but we did take a rather rural, slow journey to the border this morning. We were the only farangs aboard.