Escape from #Laos, Stuck in #Thailand…

Travel by tuk-tuk in Asia

Travel by tuk-tuk in Asia

Our trip’s taken a bit of an ugly turn, what with increasing hassles with transport, taxis and tuk-tuks (see previous post). Call me a whiny backpacker if you want, but it’s bad enough that we’ve already dropped Savannakhet from the itinerary—just to mitigate those extra hassles—and I’m double-checking future hotel bookings to see if the locations are walkable from the bus stations. It’s more than can be explained away by the $5/gallon petrol cost, too, so taints the entire perception of the country.

Let’s put it this way: taxis here like to charge by the passenger—even on a private run. That’s BS. That’s not communism (Laos is a Communist country); that’s retail, dahling. Being a backpacker (wearing a backpack, that is) was always as much about avoiding high-price city taxis as seeking countryside trails, after all. Just for the record, I do not wear my backpack fully square on both shoulders, but rather slung off one side with a flair for fashion.  But the current problems run deeper.

Bad Day for Elizabeth

Bad Day for Elizabeth

My partner’s not well, so that adds stress and strain, sturm und drang. There are usually ways to deal with that. But this is beyond all that.
“I feel as though something’s about to happen, something terrible.” I do, too.
Now it could just be female hysteria—comes with the turf, right—or it could be female intuition, but I have to deal with it regardless.
“If you want to go home, just tell me.”
“I want to go home.”
It’s midday Sunday.
“There’s nothing we can do right now. So sleep on it. We’ll go in the morning… if you still want to. We can still make the Tuesday morning flight.”
“I want to go home.”

Bus station in Thailand's Isaan region

Bus station in Thailand’s Isaan region

We’ll see. She wakes up with mind unchanged. This is the drill we tour guides are always prepared for—not. But I have no choice. We eat the groovy hotel’s breakfast first—included in the price. We catch a tuk-tuk at 8:30 a.m. He charges 30K (back to the same station that I originally negotiated down from 100K to 40K—basterds.

I make him stop at an exchange house, too, to exchange all our Lao kip back into USD and THB. Then he stops to suck air out of his gas line—I’m serious—so I’m not sure we’ll make it, with the three-wheeler huffing and puffing. But we do, and catch the Friendship Bus across the Mekong River at 9:30am.

We slink through Thai immigration and customs, amid reports of strict crackdowns on visa runners. Visa-runners don’t use this border crossing much, so feelings go unruffled. We arrive at the Nakhon Phanom bus station in Thailand at 11 a.m. There’s nothing going to Bangkok until 5 p.m. That’ll arrive too late to catch the morning flight BKK-IAH.

Thai Taxi

Thai Taxi

“Have lunt (lunch), can lee lack (relax),” advises the nice lady behind the counter.
Yeah, right. กวนตีนแล้ว Don’t f*ck with me, motherf*ckers. This is my movie. So I buy two tickets to Khon Kaen, halfway to Bangkok.
“Wait heah, wait ova theah, same same,” more free advice.

อย่ายุ่ง  We catch the 1pm bus to Khon Kaen. We arrive at 6pm. There’s a bus to Bangkok at 6:30. We’re on it. It arrives at Mor Chit, Bangkok’s northern bus station at 2am. We grab a taxi to the airport. We’re first in line when they open the desk at 3am. It does no good. They won’t let my partner on. She has to contact the airline. So we get a WiFi signal in the airport—yes—and proceed to Skype. Can you guess what they said?  (to be continued)…

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