It is always a strange sensation to know, when you wake up in the morning, that by the time you fall asleep you will be in another country. Breakfast in Thailand, lunch in Loas. So after quickly eating our meal of rice and spicey sausage we grabbed our backpacks and climbed aboard the local bus to Chang Khong, the Thai town on the border.
Now all the guide books say that you cross the border via the Mekong river, which marks the boundary of the two countries. Though we knew that a new ‘friendship bridge’ had been built, reading recent blogs people spoke of the great experience they’d had on the small boats crossing the mighty river. So even though we were told by a tuk-tuk driver that there were no boats we boldly strode through the town to the jetty, not even put off by the lack of westerns along the main road. When we reached where the boats used to leave from, the official at the quiet immigration office explained that for the last few weeks the boat crossing had been reserved for locals only. We had to go back and cross the bridge and so concede that the tuk-tuk driver had not been trying to scam us for a fare but was just being helpful. Embarrassingly the same driver who had told us this news twenty minutes earlier, before a sweaty walk with our packs, was waiting at the top of the road with a knowing smile on his face.
In the end we made it to the shinny, white immigration building on the bridge and were stamped out of Thailand for a second time. Then some more confusion began…we had to buy a ticket for a bus to simply drive us across the bridge to the Laos side. Once this dropped us off we cued up for the paperwork to get our Laos visa, had a scary moment where Ella thought she hadn’t got enough passport photos (luckily you only need one), paid our $35 and walked into Laos. We then had to get a tuktuk to the town on this side of the Mekong, Huay Xai.
So we had made it, maybe a little later than expected, but we were in our seventh country of the trip so far. To celebrate we climbed up a hill to an abandoned French fort, then up its tower for a great view of the Mekong river below. It was full from the wet seasons rain and the muddy tea coloured water rolled down towards its delta hundreds of miles down stream. From here we could see Thailand, so close in fact you could see people moving about on the opporsite bank. We were in a different country just like that…
Next time we’ll see you swinging through the jungle.