Ticket was bought. Bag got packed. Dinner was eaten. And tuk-tuk was taken.
This was the beginning of my VISA run to Laos PDR. It was supposed to be a quick run to Laos where baguettes where supposed to be eaten, Beer Laos was to be drunk by the Mekong River and I get myself a double entry Tourist VISA in Vientiane. However, as many things do, things unexpectedly changed and my trip ended up being extended for a few extra days due to Thai public holidays which meant the Thai Embassy in Vientiane was closed for a few days.
So, after grabbing an overnight VIP bus from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani for around 600ish Baht, another small and quite crap bus for 35B from Udon Thani to Nongkhai, a short tuk-tuk journey to the friendship bridge for about 50B, 1500B and a few passport photos for a Laos VISA, another bus for 15B and then a minivan, I finally arrived at the Thai Embassy hot, tired and not wanting to deal with VISA application forms.
However, this was the reason for the journey, this was the reason for the harrowing bus journeys and why I was here, so I mustered up a minimal amount of motivation and got the forms filled out. 60-day Tourist VISA with two entries. 2000B. Bam! Applied. But but but, instead of picking it up the next day (a Friday!), we had to pick it up on the following Tuesday due to a Friday and a Monday being public holidays that me and my friends were completely oblivious too.
What to do with four unexpected days in Laos????
Vang Vieng or Luang Prabang, or both. Well, from what I hear of Vang Vieng, it really isn’t what I want right now, if ever. Luang Prabang seems just what I need. This was Krissi’s favourite place in Asia and we always said we would return together. Tired, hot, dirty and broken from the travel, we decide to get straight on another bus and headed towards Luang Prabang. 110,000Kip from the Northern bus station and we were on our way with rice bags, deck chairs and people filling the isles of one hell of an old rickety bus.
Little did I know but the next 10ish hours were very testing, both physically and mentally. A time for some Addithana to kick in.
The stars were out, the road was pretty non-existent, but we were alive and arrived at Naluang Bus Station at 1.30am. We discovered this was not good, as there is a midnight curfew around Laos where businesses shut, doors get locked and people go to sleep.
So, at 1.30am there were three tired, hot, sweaty ‘bagged up’ backpackers wandering the charming streets of Luang Prabang lookin for a place to stay.
Arrrgh. VISA’s can be confuzzling. Here’s the low down on the Tourist VISAs….
- You fly, you get a 30-day VISA on arrival.
- You walk, you get a 15-day VISA on arrival.
- If you overstay its 500B per day fine that is paid when you exit.
- 60-day Tourist VISA can be applied for out of the country.
- A 60-day Tourist VISA can be extended by 30 days at any immigration for 1900B.
- A double or triple entry means you need to leave the country and your next 60 days can begin.
- Watch out for the expiry of both your VISA and your exit stamp. Your VISa expiration is much more significant.
So… February and March has seen some financial blows. I am skint. This is a term I feel is subjective as many people have different meanings for skint. Some say they are skint when they have only 1000 quid in the bank. Others say they are skint when they have gone into their 500 quid overdraft by a fiver. A few say they are skint when they reach into the ten thousand dollar (for all the Americans out there) savings and pull some cash out for a flight to Moscow. It is different for me. I follow the definitions of the word skint found on sites such as Urban Dictionary.
I have nothing. I am broke, poor, out of money. Literally.
Why do I let myself get into financial situations like this? Honestly, I really do not have a scooby doo (that means ‘clue’ Adam). I am good with money when I have enough. I paid off over 4000quid in debts in around 10 months last year while travelling and working in Chiang Mai. I had my butterfly to rely on and friends if I got myself into a sticky situation, but this year, this is something I am trying to improve. Actually improving.
It is a few days before payday and i’m living generally on a pack of 10B cookies for breakfast and Noddle Soup for dinner. I am walking to work as I cannot relieve my bike from its thirst. I literally have nothing. Until now.
As I was walking down Huay Kaew Road in Chiang Mai eating my packet of 10B Creamos (cheap version of Oreos) I was delivered an unexpected gift. As I walk along the unsteady pavement kickin my toes every few metres on the broken tiles, my eyes randomly look to the right and there laying in the foot of the hedge is my saviour for the month. What do I see?
In amongst a carrier bag and a bottle of sprite there is one, spanky thousand Baht note with the King of Thailand smiling at me. Without a thought I bend down and pick it up. This kinda shit does not happen to me. What was going on?
The universe provided.
Why did it provide? Again I have no idea, it just did. I’m a good guy. I can sometimes offend certain people, but it is always with absolute unintentionality. I smile, i’m generous with my time and I genuinely care about others. Bottom line is, I was skint and the universe heard my passive calling.
I needed. It delivered.
Respect the universe and keep your ears and eyes peeled. It does deliver when we least expect it.