Our long anticipated land border crossing into Laos arrived a day ahead of schedule. The 6 hour bus trip from Jinghong to Luang Nam Tha on the Chinese bus (Laos was spelt Loas on the back) was uneventful. Everything happened as expected. The only dramatic event was the woman in Mengla (last big town on the Chinese side 50 km from the border) who refused to heed our request to go easy on the La factor (La is the Chinese word for spicy food that burns your mouth and the remainder of the inexorable journey) and petulantly doubled the dosage. To inflict salt on the wound (and not on the food!), she even offered us a pre-taste daring us to refuse the food. Two trips to the ice cream vendor soothed our aggrieved innards.
As the bus approached the border, several women approached us in the bus and outside the immigration office offering to change money. We refused, thinking that we would get better rates across the border.
The Chinese side of the border was spruced up like a garden, but their imposing building to handle customs and immigration was hot and stuffy. A long queue had built up with everyone having to haul their entire baggage through the building. One more official showed up and opened another counter and this resulted in two queues. A few minutes later, a third official showed up and shooed away those in the second queue and moved them back to their original position at the rear of the first queue. The reason for this became immediately clear. A bunch of well dressed wealthy folks showed up and they were escorted respectfully to the top of the second queue. The people who had to make way for them were working class people who were obviously crossing the border for their livelihoods. While one can expect to see red carpets at airport boarding gates, it is sad to see this at an official border control and that too in communist China with their supposedly classless society.
The Laos side had a series of ramshackle sheds and though it was hot outdoors, it was cool in the shade of the verandah where we got our visas on arrival. Torrential rain and tropical sunshine alternated through the hour long ride to Luang Nam Tha. We were delighted that our bus proceeded beyond the bus station and went through the 15 additional kilometers into the town (just one main street) and dropped us outside our hotel which had its doors opening directly onto the street. The check-in counter was just 10 feet away from the bus making it easy for us to move our packs quickly.
Welcome to Laos!
Welcome to Loas :)
More seriously - yin dy torn hup sou pha thet lao From , on Jul 12, 2012 at 07:43AM
Cannot help you any more. Glad you enjoyed China. From, on Jul 12, 2012 at 11:28PM