Monday, December 5, 2016

Lao Trip 15.1a - To The Border

Adhering to the provisions of my one-year multiple entry Thai “O” (for “Other”) Visa, in mid-November 2016/2559, I left Thailand and journeyed to Lao for my 15th trip to that beautiful country. I’ve technically been in Laos 17 times, but -- like my last one -- two were just mere border crossings -- over and back -- so that I could get another travel permit and keep my Thai Visa current.

I’m not a fan of the return same day border crossings. I much more prefer to make better use of the opportunity to take short vacations. The break from my normal routines is good for me and I haven’t had a bad trip yet -- including the time I got Traveller’s Diarrhea for a couple of days in Southern Lao.

A bit unfortunately, I left Thailand in the middle of our family’s yearly rice harvest. It is important for me to be around during this most important time -- not so much in the fields as the provider of beer, soft drinks, energy drinks and food... and, of course, general moral support.

I did this for a couple of days and then left. The pending expiration of my travel permit (90 days in length), forced my exit. But, I timed it as best I could. Importantly, I made sure the 9 rai road, that had been washed out by the recent flooding, was smoothed out. This not only made it possible for family to drive all the way in to Bann Nah (our farm house: center of pumped water, electricity, kitchen, bathroom and hammocks), but also made it possible for the thresher to get in, once the rice was cut and dried in the sun.

On the day of my leaving, Thip rode me on her motosai (Honda Wave 110i) about seven kilometers to the provincial bus station in Nong Bua Lamphu city. Although sleepier than most provincial bus stations, the Nong Bua bawkawsaw is laid out pretty much the same as most of the other ones. The administration office, information booth and bathrooms are centrally located with a long stretch of concrete bays assigned to certain bus routes. This roofed structure is surrounded by a cement road circling it, with shop houses in a “U” shape surrounding it. The shops sell various things and are not always traveller-specific. People who own the shops generally live in the apartments above them. You can always tell who’s doing well financially by seeing who has new paint and windows on their section of the block.

I always enjoy the ride to Muang Loei. I remember when the road was all two-lane highway, only 6-10 years ago. Now, there’s sections of four and even six lanes. 

From Muang Loei, I caught the sawngtheaw to Tha Li and then another passenger truck to the Thai/Lao Border and Nam Heuang.

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