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    Wednesday, 2 September 2009

    Huay Xai to Chiang Kong Border Crossing - Laos to Thailand

    Thai Flag [Enlarge & More]
    Huay Xai was a sleepy place holding very little charm. I think most people pass through in a day crossing the border to and from Thailand. The border crossing to Thailand was one of the easiest we’ve done. You ‘checkout’ on the Laos side of the border, dump your bag onto a very small boat and get zipped across to the Thai side in a minute or two across the Mekong. The boat itself holds a maximum of 8 people so it’s tiny but several of them go back and forward as soon as they get filled.

    On the Laos side as the passengers disembark, they get a thermometer stuck down their ear to get screened for H1N1. It’s a bit like the thing the doctor sticks down your ear when he wants to have a look. You know at home he puts a shiny clean bit on the end of it before using it, but here the man gives it a quick wipe on his leg before sticking it in the next person.

    As we disembarked on the Thai side, which is actually getting off into slightly muddy soil while trying not to drop your backpack, you get screened for the H1N1 virus. This time it’s a gun type contraption that takes your temperature, thankfully no dirty contraption stuffed down our ears for us!

    Chiang Mai[Enlarge & More]
    You make your way to ‘check-in’ which is a port-a-cabin type contraption up the river bank, where you fill in the required forms, usually in triplicate and then you are in. On a border crossing you get 15 day entry stamp for Thailand, whereas if you fly in you get the month. Apparently this is to stop long-timers hopping over the border to renew their stamps/visa. I guess crossing the border every 15 days it would be a right pain. We’d planned ahead and got our visas in Vientiane as we plan to be here for about a month and we knew there was a promotion where you get a free 60 day Visa.

    From there we had already organised a Mini-Van to take us to Chiang Mai about 250 KM away. As drives go this was one of the dullest we’ve taken, partly due to what felt like the snail pace the driver took. That just may be my perception as in both Cambodia and Laos the drives are a little more erratic, as the buses use all the road to avoid kids, potholes, chickens, dogs, ducks, cows, cyclists, snakes…….. making it much more entertaining.

    We arrived in Chiang Mai eventually and were dumped not at any bus station, but at a guesthouse which the driver must get commission from, which always makes working out where you are a challenge. Our first task was to go and find a cash point as we had no Thai baht, not great planning on our part. Once that was sorted we tried to get a tuk tuk to the guesthouse we had chosen. The tuk tuk driver did not know where it was however he called the guesthouse and got the directions. A reasonable price was quoted, much, much cheaper than tuk tuks in Laos, and he took us to the guesthouse with a smile!

    I’m already loving being back in Thailand!

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