The insane border crossing from Laos to Thailand!
24.03.2010 - 24.07.2010 30 °C
I was sad to be leaving Luang Prabang, but at the same time excited by the prospect of heading into Northern Thailand! The downside was that we knew the journey would be long, and horrible over land.
We were transferred to the bus as usual, and found out that the bus didn't have a toilet on board, as we were promised by the travel agents. This would not usually have been an issue, but due to reasons best unsaid it was quite important to have a toilet on this journey. Anyway, after some useless discussions with the driver and a phone call to the travel agents we gave up and got on board. It was a night bus so it was going to be a long one, but the journey was considerably lengthened by the driver picking up local people at every opportunity and placing plastic chairs in the isles for them to sit/sleep on. After there was literally no more space for standing or sitting it was lights out, which lead to Steph having a ladys head nestled on her arm as she attempted to get comfortable for a couple of hours sleep.
We weren't really bothered by locals travelling on the bus and the disruptions to our journey, but the issue came when we arrived late to the border. We were told we would arrive 2 hours early and would have to wait for the boat to take us across the river. It turned out we were over half an hour late for the boat, and we were then told that the bus to Chiang Mai wouldn't wait for us on the other side and had probably already left! Not good. We were then told that we would need a tuc tuc to get to the jetty. This was a major problem as we didn't have enough to pay for it because we were under the impression the entire journey was paid for! A very kind Russian man offered to help us out with payment, and it wasn't long before we were making a frantic charge for the jetty. We untidily filled out the appropriate immigration papers as we bounced around in the tuc tuc. After a frustratingly slow immigration check point we clambered on to a tiny wooden boat, very clumsily with our big bags, and travelled the short distance across the river. Before long we were racing for another tuc tuc, and on our way to find out if we had made it in time for the bus to Chiang Mai. We made it just in time! The next problem was that there wasn't any space for our bags on the tiny mini bus! While the driver struggle like a huge game of Tetris to fit it all in, we heard a massive bang from behind us. The tuc tuc we had just been riding on had collapsed onto it's single front wheel, leaving it obstructing the only way out for the mini bus! This lead to a further delay of at least half an hour. Eventually once again we were on our way – crammed into a tiny space at the front of the mini bus, with one of my legs down next to the driver and the other wedged by out day bags. I remember thinking this 5 hour journey was not going to be enjoyable. I was right.
Exhusted, we were grateful to finally reach Chiang Mai. We found a relatively nice place to stay for pretty cheap, and best of all it had a swimming pool!