What do a cow and a motorbike have in common?
This is Lao style. Time is most of the time just irrelevant. Don’t freak out, bus will arrive, it is still 3rd of March.
You might have some snow back home, but we have communism! I don’t know much details about it, but Laotian and communists flags are everywhere around. And satellite antennas with HD written on it. Not sure if they can watch HD TV via satellite plate, but hey, we have communism!
Laotian people love music. There is something special about it. While most of houses are really basic huts, some electricity (not always) but at least one house in the village has enormously big speakers and provide the music for all village. Because life can’t be without music.
Busses deserve special mention in few categories. I never seen cheesiest videospots in my life. And listening to Laotian karaoke music for two days in a row, party lights in the bus, I don’t know where this came from. Forget ear plugs as music on the bus will take care you won’t fall asleep for all day. When it comes to timetable, busses drive on Lao time. They will arrive, they will wait, they will stop for no reason, they will pick 3 million boxes and packages along the road, they can have a whole mountain of things on the roof and there is always space for few more people. And one more person! 🙂 They need couple of hours more from what you were told, plus another hour or two to start the trip. No worries, somehow it is going to work out. For some reason you are going to pay bus until the last station, even if this is 6 hours ahead of where you gonna exit.
This is the videos and music I was talking about. But – super loud. Listen to this 10h in a row and do not get crazy!
Lao money. It is nice to feel like a millionaire, but too many zeros is just to many. Banknotes looks all the same in two colors – blue (1000, 2000, 10000 and 100k) and reddish brown (500, 5000, 20000 and 50k). And number you can read is just in one corner. Lao people seems to master them really good (pay with 50k and get change back as you paid with 20k, 1000 instead of 10k). It is also stupid to argue for 50k/room when you knew you paid it, but on checkout they asked for payslips and there is nothing you can do. Smile, keep calm and learn the lesson.
Electricity in gone for all day, all city (and no WiFi of course).
Puf! No running water around.
Well, running water is just “filtered” Mekong in most cases, so having shower is just a different way of saying – I went swimming. After a month looks I was stinky enough, I haven’t got a single mosquito bite in all month.
Puf! Bus tire just exploded.
Laos is as authentic as much as it can be.
Don’t worry, we have Communism, what do you have?
Motorbike and cow fit on one boat. Animals running everywhere around. I have never seen so many baby animals in one spot. Cows, goats, chickens, ducks, pigs, puppies and kittens are just everywhere and everything has babies. A lot of babies of all species everywhere! I think Asian kids are the cutest kids on the planet!
Hey, Lao whisky! Alcohol menu can be funny.
– Lao Lao
– big alcohol (wtf?)
– small alcohol 🙂
And a happy menu in some places:
– happy pizza
– happy crepe
– happy ice cream
– space cookie
– happy shake
– happy shot.
Well, be careful with what are you doing, drugs are very illegal here. In best case you gonna pay 5 million kip “fine” and have a story you definitely won’t forget. To have a feeling you are really paying a fine, they gonna take your fingerprints, copy your passport and in case you won’t agree with something, tuk tuk is already waiting just about the corner to take you to main police station. And – there is a (30k) tuk tuk waiting just by ATM that you can came back ASAP with your money. Yes, what a nice co incidence! To make all scene even more hilarious the same guy that cough you, might offer you another packet of something in the evening. The story is totally real, ask two Dutch guys for more details.
Vang Vieng was better than expected. For many reasons I got stuck there for almost two weeks. Was a bit afraid that the party scene there gonna be just too much, but in the fact you can find everything what you want there. Landscape is stunningly amazing, bunch of sport (and drinking) activities. And cool people!!! So I was climbing, cycling, hiking and ridding motorbike around. Not surprised why people died on tubing. Water and super drank people don’t match the best, but also limbo dance with stick on fire in another insane thing.
Chillao – south of Lao is way more relaxed, you can easily get stuck somewhere in Bolevan plateau or at 4000 islands – time there is just another dimension.
Internet? Ah, yes, might be somewhere there around, but let’s just stay in Lao time for now.
Getting Vietnamese Visa in Laos
You can get it in consulate/embassy in Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Savannakhet or Pakse. I did mine in Pakse, it took 2 working days, cost $50/month (no additional fee at the border). Write the entry & exit day on the form (you can enter after the day, but not earlier, and have to exit no later than your visa is saying, unless you extend it). They let me keep my passport so you can still rent a motorbike and go around. Not sure if visa in one day is possible, I wasn’t in the rush.
Overstaying Lao visa
I managed to overstay my visa for a day. I could arrange visa extension for $2 or $3 per day, but since is almost nothing (official office and agents) at 4000 islands I just decided to pay (un)official fine of $10/day. They took me to the little room at the border with 4 officers around, telling me that I overstayed for a day. I’m always calm, no need to panic at all.
– YOU OVERSTAY FOR ONE DAY! $10 PLEASE!!
– No problem sir, but I have only Vietnamese dongs. Is that ok?
I clearly didn’t want to hand out bright new $100 bill and get another rip off conversion rate back. Also had a feeling that would accept any currency, even North Korean Wons. Because money is money. Handed out 200k dongs and problem solved.