16/9/10 Having driven the long drive to Nong Kai to visit Vientiene, Laos for the day, we set off with our passports to immigration. Many many hours waiting in queues we took off with our hired guide, equipped with a 12 seater bus.
Our first stop was to a temple in Laos where we were asked to hire Laos wrap skirts (women) before entering. Bare shoulders were allowed but we were not to go Laos skirt free! Just to be rebelious, we jumped onto some bikes in our skirts!
Our guide thought we had vanished because we got distracted with markets. The guys found some screwdriver/torch gadgets and almost bought the market out of them. By the time we returned it was 3pm!
The next stop was the an arch in Vientiene, which was built to replicate the Arch de triomph, with a Thai flavour. Bruce, Lorraine, Colin and I climbed to the top and were amazed to see the market stalls set up inside.
Our last stop was at another temple. By then it was 4pm and we were shuttled back to the border to return to Thailand.
After more queues and forms, forms and more forms, we were about to jump back onto the bus over the bridge, when I realised that our Visa had the 30th of November on it. Our flights out of Thailand are for the 2nd of December, so this was something of a concern. Several of us tried convincing them to give us back our original date but to no avail. It seems that the Bangkok airport give you a 30 day visa, but once you leave the border it is revoked. Then when we came back to re-new our visa they only gave us 15 days. The thought of imprisonment or a fine only made us laugh. There is hope… we would drive to the immigration centre in the morning and try pleading with them. Watch this space!