Chiang Mai to Huay Xai

Off to Laos

May 24, 2005

Today we woke up early, 8:00 am, this is early for us at these days. We've been having trouble falling asleep here in Chiang Mai. Sometimes not falling asleep until 3 or 4 in the morning. We got up early to catch a 10:00 am mini-bus to Laos, but first we wanted to mail a package home and get some breakfast. We've been mailing our souvenirs and CD's of our photos home after every country. We mailed our package off, had a quick breakfast and finished up our packing right at 10:00 am when we were told our Vietnam Visa's were not ready in time. We had to take the 12:30 pm mini-bus. No problem, we don't have any plans today.

The mini-bus was a van and we rode up with 3 guys from the UK and one guy from Israel. It took us 5 hours to get to Chiang Kong, Thailand. We arrived around 5:30 pm and found out the border crossing closed at 6:00 pm and we still had to find the crossing. We found the crossing, got our Thailand departure stamp on our passports and paid 40 baht to cross the Mekong river on a longtail boat to Huay Xai, Laos. We headed directly to Immigration office just at the top of the boat ramp. We filled out our paperwork and got our Laos arrival stamp on our passports. After this the immigration guy asked for 30 baht. I searched in my pocket to get the money when I thought wait, why do I need to pay him 30 baht. He must of saw the confused look on my face when he held up a piece of paper. It Read:

Office Hours 8 am to 6 pm

Overtimeee Fee 15 baht 4 pm to 6 pm

Overtime really did have 3 e's on the end of it. You have to pay an overtime during regular hours. I would like to try this back in the States and see how well that goes over. Huay Xai is a small border crossing town and we found our guest house within minutes of leaving the immigration office. We checked in, took a shower, had some dinner and booked our boat trip for the next. Tomorrow we start our 2 day journey in a longtail boat south west on the Mekong river and north on the Nam Tha river eventually ending up in Luang Namtha.

The official currency in Laos is Kip, but Kip, Baht and US Dollars are accepted. As the guy from Amsterdam (we met him in our cooking class in Chiang Mai) put it, "The Kip isn't worth anything and you would have to carry a suitcase full of bills to travel for a month." We decided to keep our money in Baht for now.

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