Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lao Trip 8.1a - To Nong Khai

I was fast coming up on my three-month travel permit expiration, so given that we were in construction mode and I needed to keep close tabs on what was happening, I decided to go to Vientiane, the capital of Lao (Laos), this time around. Being right across the Mekong from Thailand, Vientiane would allow me easy cellphone contact. I wouldn’t have to switch sim cards and calls wouldn’t be expensive. If I needed to rush back to the construction project, it was only a day’s ride away.

I had had it in the back of my mind to re-visit Vientiane. I wanted to make another assessment of it. I’ve found that living in Southeast Asia, my initial impressions are not always accurate. So, after dissing Vientiane in 2012, when I briefly visited the city river front that first with Thip, I wanted to give the place another chance.

This 8th trip to Lao was notable not only for a few days in Vientiane, but also for time spent in Nong Khai, Thailand, and two significant mistakes I made – one small, one big.

The trip started off as they usually do. After I took care of the monks, I drove my tuk-tuk toward the highway, parking it at Thip’s sister’s property. From there I continued walking to Highway 210, turning down an offer for a ride from a villager who would have driven me out of his way, for all the ten kilometers to the bus station, if I would have let him.

Instead, I took the Line 1 sawngtheaw to the bawkasaw and from there hopped on a bus to Udon Thani, the next province over.

At the Udon Thani bus station, I discovered that I could not take a direct bus to Vientiane. I would have to take a bus to Nong Khai, then get the “Frienship Bus” from there.

OK, a small mistake that set me back a half day; baw peng yawng (no problem).

On the riverfront, near Wat Hai Sok, in Nong Khai

Commercial shipping at Nong Khai (Lao in background)

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