Thursday, December 04, 2014

LAOS

As we were in a city of considerable size (Chiang Rai of northern Thailand), we knew we would be able to find a speedometer cable for our motorcycle. After a couple of stops, we found a small shop that quickly installed a new cable and we had them do an oil change too. We were all ready for our 1st visit to the country of  Laos.

Leaving Chiang Rai, we headed north a bit, then east to the northernmost border, crossing into Laos on the other side of the mighty Mekong River. Up till just recently, the crossing was by boat but the new Friendship Bridge IV is now the conduit.

We had some paperwork to do at Customs on the Thai side involving our motorcycle. Then as we were being processed by Immigration for departure, we were informed we were 1 day over our Visa so they issued an overstay penalty of 100,000 Kip each, the current equivalent of $15 Canadian each. Then there was an unofficial bogus escort fee of $15, evidently for bicycles and motorcycles only, for the 2 km passage over to the entry post of Laos (Laos and Lao both rhyme with cow).

Then it was the pleasant Lao officials turn which ended up costing about $110, at least the majority of which we are sure was legitimate.

After about an hour and a half of border processing, it was getting on in the afternoon so we took a hotel for our 1st night in Laos in the riverside town of Houay Xai.

Welcome to Laos

That evening, we ventured out to find dinner and soon found out that, unlike Thailand, almost no one spoke English. We are quasi vegetarians, so we got some giggles from the young girls when Jordan mimed a chicken by flapping his arms and clucking, emphatically saying No, no. The same response when he did the Mooo and the snort of a pig. But they got the message.

But that was what we didn't want. Then we had to convey what we did want. So they took us to the cooler and we pointed out certain vegetables, etc. and then encroached on some other diners and pointed at what would be acceptable. What came was a meal for about 6 people!

We ate what we could, paid about $20 (much more than we had expected), and marked it up to our 1st Laotian food ordering exercise that we would have to fine tune. After that, for quick future reference, Jordan drew pictures of a chicken, a pig, and a cow and put a big X through them. It still brought giggles at times though.

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