Monday, February 8, 2010

Not really working

This morning I checked out of my guesthouse in Nong Khai, briefly checked email, and then headed for the border. It was my first overland border crossing in SE Asia and my first crossing into a Communist country. It was all very easy, actually. I went through customs on the Thai side and got my passport stamped, then I got on a bus to ride into Laos. The application process took a little while, but less than the hour they told me it would take. From there I got on a tuk-tuk and went 20km or so in to Vientiane.

And that's about when my plan to ditch the guidebook stopped working. Didn't take very long, did it? You see, I didn't know where I was going, which guesthouse I was looking for. So I just picked a direction and started walking. I saw ZERO guesthouses. Yes, clearly I went the wrong way. I eventually ran into some farang and asked them. Finally I was at least in the right part of town. One of the first guesthouses I went into was the right price (20,000 kip)*, but I wanted to check other prices because it was a dorm that wasn't exactly dirty, but also wasn't exactly spick and span. Besides, I thought I might be able to find a single for 40-50,000 kip. Dudes. I walked the streets for about 3 hours and couldn't find anything. Guesthouses were either full or 150,000 kip (or more) and out of my price range. By this time, I was absolutely exhausted, annoyed, on the verge of tears, dripping sweat, thirsty, hungry, and probably some other things thrown in, too. I went back to the first guesthouse (praying the whole way that the bed I'd seen - the last one - was still available). Luckily it was and my first order of business was a shower.

I'm not giving up on the no guidebook plan just yet, though. I do want to at least get a map tomorrow. I'll try to do it sometime before or after my embassy run. I'll be going to the Vietnamese and Chinese embassies to get my visas sorted out. Since I'm guessing that it could take 3-5 days, I want it to be top priority.

And now, I'm off to grab a beer. I think after the day I had, I deserve it!

*$1 = 8,480 kip, so 20,000 kip is about $2.35. It was really easy to spend money in Thailand. See tigers, elephants, and cheap massages for just a few examples. So I'm going to try to keep a better eye on my budgeting in Laos. I'll be aiming for somewhere between 85-125,000 kip/$10-15 per day. Not a lot, but I think it can be done. But not if I stay in a room that's 150,000 kip!


  1. Well Shan, it sure does sound like you needed
    that beer. But wouldn't you really, really
    want to come home and roll around in all of this snow?

    Love Ya

  2. i would take hot and sweaty right now if you want to come shovel my f-ing driveway AGAIN tomorrow. xoL