I’m not even sure where to begin on this trip. From the very beginning this trip seemed as if it were destined for failure. There was bus confusion, hotel conflict, taxi/tuk tuk chaos, visa challenges, sick children, and a whole host of other things that went crazy. It was the perfect example of Murphy’s law, everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. And yet amazingly we accomplished what we went to Laos for, reconnected with some people from our previous trip to Laos, and met some great new people as well.
I don’t think I could accurately recap everything that happened on our trip. It really was one of those you had to be there moments. But I know inquiring minds want to know details so here is a short summary.
Bus confusion: So we thought we would have to stay a night in Bangkok because we were informed that we needed originals of our marriage certificate and Aubrey and Alayna’s birth certificates. This turned out not to be true but by the time we realized it, not only were we about 20 mins from the bus station eating some disgustingly nasty Indian food, which btw was extremely disappointing because the last time we ate there it was really good, but we also only had about 30 mins until the bus left. Good times. For fear of lecture from my mother, I will refrain from telling you how I got back to the bus station with time to spare. I was hoping that I could change our tickets to the next bus which didn’t leave for another hour and a half. Sounds easy enough, except the lady at the counter really was not in the helpful mood. Somehow, God was able to work on her heart and she relented after about 10 minutes of me staring at her with my most pathetic foreigner look. Mind you, we’d only been gone from the house about 5 hours. lol
Visa challenges: You are supposed to drop off your passport one day at the embassy and then pick it up the next. Well, unfortunately because we took the later bus, we didn’t get there early enough and there were about 200 people in line ahead of us. What a difference an hour and a half makes. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the visa I had to pay for was 2000 baht/person and not 1000 like I had thought. Because I was applying for a different type of visa the fee is more expensive. Oh by the way, they stop accepting visas at 11:30 am. We didn’t get there until 9:30. What this all means is that I didn’t have time to correct my monetary error that day and get all the papers turned back in. So instead of staying one night in Laos, we would have to stay two!
Hotel conflict: We had our friend Laura with us this trip to renew her visa as well. I had made all of the hotel arrangements and everything went smoothly the first night. The second night, I somehow book our rooms at 2 different hotels. I can’t even explain to you how that is possible or how I pulled that off. Fortunately, Vientiane is not that big so I didn’t feel all that worried about leaving Laura by herself. If it were Bangkok, we might have had a problem. The second hotel that we stayed in had the potential to be a good hotel, but let’s just say it wasn’t living up to it’s potentional. 🙂 I don’t know if I have stayed in worse or not but it wasn’t so bad that I felt I needed to get the girls out of there immediately. I figured at the least, it would be a character builder for us. I’m still not sure if that assumption was accurate or not.
Taxi/tuk tuk chaos: It seems as if every trip has to include some type of crazy story about tuk tuks or taxi’s. There were a couple of differen’t stories this time but I will just tell you one. We were heading home for the night. Us, Laura, and our friends that we met from our last time in Laos. We go Laura back ok, but then the chaos started. I showed the man my hotel card and he couldn’t seem to find it. We had him call and he still couldn’t find it. He asked strangers on the street and the still couldn’t find it. After about 30 mins he pulls up to a hotel he thinks is ours. No, no, and no. We all decided to just get out there. About 2 mins later, we realize that he dropped us off a few blocks away from where he picked us up!!! Really?! I found it rather funny, nobody else in the group seemed to find the humor in it though.
You might be think right now that this was the worst trip ever. But you’d be mistaken. This trip was really really fun. Last time I went to Laos I didn’t really care for it. This time I think it grew on me. I had done a little research and found out a few of the places that were supposed to be good to eat. One of those places was Common Ground Cafe and Bakery. I think we ate there like 4 times. Truthfully, we would have gone back even if the food wasn’t any good. Why you ask? Because they had a covered play area. Unless you have kids, you won’t understand. 🙂 We probably spent about 12 hours total at this place. The kids had a great time, the food was good, they had free wifi, and we met a really cool couple there from the states. On a side note, the two couples we hung out with, both of the men are Black. Real black people from America. You have no idea how rare that is over here. No idea.
Between hanging out with new friends, exploring the night market, eating some really good food, and finally getting my visa taken care of, this trip turned out to be truly a great adventure.
I’ll try post some pics of the fun as soon as possible.