Today I had to get up early to catch my bus to Huay Xai, Laos. For the length of the trip, I sat next to a couple from Sweden. They were pretty cool people. I seem to be running into a lot of German speakers. I really wish I remembered my German from high school at this point. The total trip would be about 6 hours. I’m glad I paid a little extra and got on this air-conditioned express shuttle. It cost about 450 Thai Baht ($14 US).
On the way, we drove through Chiang Rai. This is the town I was planning on stopping at for a day, but decided to skip because of my phone incident. One of the main attractions to go to this town was Wat Rong Khun. It doesn’t have any long history to it and construction began in 1997. Around the grounds, there were more similar buildings being built. Overall, it is just really freaking cool!
We only had about 20 minutes there before we headed off to the boarder crossing. Now, I was trying to get off at the boarder with everyone else, but the driver said it wasn’t my stop. So, I stayed in the bus with a few Chinese travelers. He then took us to a really crappy blue motel to book our tours for the next day and get a room. I wasn’t having any of that and said I want to be taken to the boarder. I felt bad watching the Chinese girls getting ripped off, but I was afraid that if I said something, I would have been stranded. So, I jumped in the van with another sketchy guy and he took me to the boarder. I proceeded to make my way though, paid my $35 for a visa and in the process made friends with a German couple (Daniel and Nadine) and a Chinese girl. All very cool people, as usual it seems! This is a pic of me on the Laos side of the boarder.
Now, we were some of the last travelers to pass through the boarder and we needed to take a taxi 10 or 15 km to town. This situation was so screwed up and made me feel really uneasy. I had asked a guy as I was crossing about the process and he said it should only cost 50 Thai Baht ( $1.50) per person. The taxi dudes were being pricks and wanted 100 Thai Baht. We negotiated to 80 Thai Baht, and then they wanted it all up front. We told them no way, but would give half now and half when we got into town. This negotiating went on for a bit until a Lao guy who seemed educated and spoke English was crossing too and heading into town. He talked it out and we were on our way into town!
When we finally arrived in Huay Xai, we went into the first guesthouse we walked across and asked to see a room and the rates. The German couple obviously were staying in the same room and the Chinese girl and I teamed up and shared a room to cut the costs. The rooms were in the basement and a bit musty, but we took them anyway. It was getting really dark and it didn’t seem like there were to many more options. Plus, this little old lady who owned the place was supper cute and friendly.
After we got settled in, the Germans and I booked our tickets on the slow boat and the Chinese girl was trying to get info on a bus. We finished up our next day plans and looked for some food to eat. We first stopped at a restarunt that is supposed to help Lao women learn to run a restaurant, I think. It started to become a big hippy foreigner fest, so we just had beers and looked for something else to eat.
After dinner, we were ready to get some sleep. When the Chinese girl and I got to our room, a huge cockroach jumped out of one of her bags!! Freaked us out. We tried killing it, but it got into the wall. At the same time, the two girls staying in the room next to us got the cute little old lady to kill a spider in their bathroom. The little old lady went into the room, armed with a broom saying, “Where spider. I kill. No worry. Little spider.” I followed her to see what the girls were talking about. As the lady turns spider I hear, “ Ohhh… Dat BIG spider!!” And yes it was! Darn thing was the size of my palm. She then turned to me and made a few joking remarks about my cockroach. Definitely added a little something interesting to the end of the night!
Tomorrow I begin my two day trip down the Mekong River.