First Impressions of Laos

After a night at a small Inn in Chaing Khong right on the Mekong River we took a long tail boat Ferry ride accross to Laos. Communism is the rule of law here, and it was not overtly noticeable, (not like I expect it to be in China anyways…). People can easily go from one country to the next accross the river and walk right past (or around) the immigration office to spend as much time as they want doing whatever in the other country. The only (minimal) catch is that all hotels on both sides require registration of your passport and in Laos they also take careful note of your VISA number. The injustice of the VISA for us was extroirdinary and hurtful. Most all Aisian, European and South sea countries were charged US$30 for a tourist VISA. Americans are charged US$35, and Canadians are charged US$42. Ogh! the injustice… The first thing we noticed after clearing all that stuff up was a left hand side drive vehicle! Way cool! Back to the side we are used to from home, even though it took some getting used to again, getting into a vehicle from the opposite side as Australia, Singapore, Malaysia & Thailand.

On our first night in Laos, luke was playing with a pet monkey. It crawled on his head and the owner took it off. When it satrted climbing up Luke’s leg again, the owner pulled it’s tail to prevent uit from climbing up onto his head again. Not enjoying being pulled off, the monkey held on to Luke even more, and then eventually bit Luke’s leg to get a better grip. So, we added a new Top four list entry to account for all of these “encounter’s” we seem to be having. It is available from the links at the top left of any blog page, or directly from:
http://weblog.jamesworld.ca/top-4-lists/

As soon as we got VISA’s and passports straightened out, we took a ride to a steel hull long boat on the Mekong River. We were going to another town, about 14 hours drive down the river. It was broken up into two days of travel on the boat by ourselves with four relaxing reclining chairs and amazing vies out the sides of the boat. Pictures of our boat (and some other larger tourist transport boats) probably won’t show up in the online gallery for a another week or two yet, once the camera DVD is finalized. It was quite nice and relaxing though at six hours one day, and eight hours the next. In between we stayed at a pretty delux hotel in the middle of freak’in no where.

Once we got to Luangprabang, (where we’re still at now) we did several tours of various temples which sadly being to blend together. The cool part of our tours here however is the guide. He grew up about a four hour drive from here in a small farming villiage, but left home at age 11 to join a temple as a buddist Monk Novice. Apparently the learning and lifestyle prospects in his villiage were pretty slim, so he decided to enter into the “novicehood”. It would typically take a boy about 20 years as a novice before becomming a monk. He spent his first six years here at a temple in Luangprabang, and then went to the capital city of Laos for another six years learning pretty decent English along the way. So, when we toured his old temple where he lived as a child (and another where he walked to school each day) the insights and stories were incredible and much more interesting than the standard tourist explanations given to everyone else. We had several others at different times leaning in to our small group of five to overhear his recollections before they were admonished by their own tour guides for falling behind.

Tomorrow we have a five hour (150km) bumpy bus ride to the next town on our tour stop. In the end we won’t be going through Vietnam much at all other than flying directly to Hanoi from Vientiane (the Laos capital city) and staying there for two nights before our Dec 16 scheduled flight to Hong Kong.

2 Responses to “First Impressions of Laos”

  1. Kalsy says:

    Hello James Family,

    It is a pleasure reading your stories of your journey around the globe and the pictures are great as well. I wish all of you a wonderful christmas and all the best in 2008. We are off to Cancun (December 14) tomorrow for Christmas.

    Cheers,
    Kalsy

    PS: Even though I enjoy reading Rick’s posts, I sure wish Claudette would write more!

  2. Loren says:

    Hello funny family – just wanted to say thank-you Rick for your wee note that I found in my suitcase – only today as I unpacked my bag in aussie! – I am the girl on the minibus from hat yai to krabi….thanks!! – wish I had found it sooner (rats!). I hope you are all having a safe and happy trip – I had a great time in south thailand, then went to chang mai for a week – which was ok, but preferred the south better, then to bangkok – 5 planes and two buses later, made it back to Coffs Harbour, Aussie. (broke!)….was worth it though. Apologies if I was a bit grumpy on the bus trip – it was from the no sleep train trip the night before – but was a delight to have met such a great family – and so neat to see your children enjoying life so much….hope and pray for you that you have a continuing good time, and a safe trip home. God Bless you,
    Loren