We left Madrid in the late afternoon, via London to Singapore where we stayed in the land-side terminal hotel. And finally got to see the Jewel Changi terminal. The next morning, it was onto a flight to Da Nang, in Vietnam. This isn’t a normal route for us into Laos but made sense with limited time and not having to make multiple flights to get around. Instead enter near company operations in the south near the Vietnam border and then make our way up country to Vientiane Capital.
Here we had a driver arranged to drive us from the airport to the Laos border about 4.5 hours away. We stopped along the way for lunch and then onward to Lao Bao border. The driver certainly earned his money in the last hour of the drive, where there was a constant stream of trucks and other traffic as the road climbed the rolling hills. We were the only people at the border post so it took a little bit of searching to work out where to go. But eventually we were stamped out of Vietnam and walked over to the Lao border post where it was a bit clearer what to do. Visa purchased and we met one of my colleagues to drive the 1 hour to Xepon
It was great to see the rice being harvested and normal life carrying on unchanged. It was also super to see our old friend Beer Lao 🙂 The price increases since we left in 2020 were obvious everywhere. Beer Lao is a good guide of prices, as it had increased from 10,000 to 20,000 ( roughly $1 to $2)
The best coffee in town is traditional dark Vietnamese coffee made by a lady in the market. But when we turned up at the market both she, and all the old shops there were gone. We had to have Nescafe from a sachet at the office, as none of the other cafés were open that particular morning. I did track her down at her daughter’s restaurant and she was so happy to see 2 familiar foreigners. We had the same experience down in Vientiane with people we had known during our time in the country being excited to see the ‘strangers’ return.
It was great to see the company staff and work areas, before we travelled down to Savannakhet to fly to Vientiane. We had 3 days in Vientiane to catch up with old friends and do a little work. It was a really really nice time. Good restaurants, good views from top of hotels watching sunset, eating down on the waterfront… The time was too short and we were a little sad to have to leave and fly back down to Singapore, before the journey back to NZ