Monday, December 31, 2007

Rockin' New Years, Huay Xia Style

We had a plan that depended on local Thai buses, a Mekong river border crossing into Laos, and a Laos local bus to make it to our destination of Luang Nam Tha in northern Laos. Although we realized it was technically possible to do this trip in one day if everything was on schedule, we wisely predicted the possibility of staying in the tiny border town of Huay Xia on New Years' eve.

Enter factor 1: Our local Thai bus to the border wasn't one of the crammed tourist minibuses, but took a longer scenic route through northeastern Thailand, made even longer by the frequent stops by police and bus security to look for smugglers.

Factor 2: The boat crossing into Laos was easy enough but the gentleman who's job it was to stamp our passports happened to be napping at the time. Dennis decided the best approach was to hover and be slightly annoying, while the other immigration officials laughed at their sleeping co-worker, and I walked down the street (p.s. into Laos) to buy some drinks and snacks for what could be a long wait. Luckily for us, a line started forming and a few minutes later we were officially welcomed into Laos, but just a little too late to catch our bus.

Huay Xia is a one road town, so we set about looking for a party. A large tent was set up in the center of town and we hoped it was a wedding, which we've heard is easy to snag an invite to and really fun. After more hovering we realized it was a funeral and moved on. Most of the locals seemed to be in high spirits (they celebrate international New Year, Tet, and Pii Mai, the Laos New Year), but after we got back from eating a surprisingly good street roti, it seemed everyone had passed out already. Luckily we had met Josh and Sara, a couple from Mississippi, and ended up having dinner, drinks, and a good conversation with them, while listening to a horrendous karaoke party nearby. A rockin' New Years, it was not, but it definitely worked as an introduction to laid-back Laos.


Jean-Christophe B said...

Nice to hear how you manage NYE :) well done!
We arrived in Huay Xia a few days after you. But instead of taking the bus, we change at the last minute our plan for a boat up o Luang Nam Tha. We got a bit ripped-off for it (mainly because we did some miscalculation for the Dollar, Bhat, Kip thingy) but it was a pleasant ride until Na Lee where we had to take a Saewgthaew (or whatever that stupid name his :p) for the last kilometers (3 hours ride still) because the water level was too low.
We are now in Luang Nam Tha and tomorrow we will go to Muang Long to do some trekking.
Where did you do your trekking? Which "agency"? Do you have any tip?
As a safe journey for the rest of your trip :)

stacebro said...

Hi, Dennis!
Wow--what a grand adventure you're on. I just got the link from Andy, who fielded an email I sent to you. If you get a chance to backchannel me, please do.

Take care out there...
Stacey Brown