The ASEAN has granted every member country to visit another without applying for tourist/working visa, provided you’re not staying for more than 30 days. Otherwise, you have to make sure to renew the stamp every 30 days to avoid paying USD3/day for overstaying, i mean, that’s expensive. This means leave the country and then go back. And as for us, yeah, we have to comply.
The awesome thing about Laos is it’s in the middle of five countries, so we can choose to cross wherever convenient. Since we are posted in Vientiane, the nearest (and cheapest) place we can go is Nong Khai, Thailand or if you want to drive further, to Udon Thani. VTE to Nong Khai is just a 20-minute drive while VTE to Udon can take around an hour or less (it’s like traveling from LB to Alabang without the heavy traffic :)).
It’s actually fascinating when you walk along the Mekong River ‘boulevard’, the island that you see across is already another country.
Most of the groceries, clothes and shoes and electronics are way cheaper in Nong Khai compared with the prices in Vientiane. I think it’s because Nong Khai is also the place where they get their supplies. Whenever we visit Tesco-Lotus, we always end up with lots of shopping bags, well I do. Dining in different restos* is fun as well.
Funny story. I was at the money changer and then the teller asked for my passport. You see, my old passports are attached with the new one**, that’s why my passport looks like a book. Therefore, my 10-year-old photo is still plastered somewhere there. The teller opened the third book, meaning the oldest, and she looked at it intently. When she couldn’t figure out why she’s looking at a tween’s photo while a huge lady was sitting in front of her, she cracked the question: Is this your daughter?
Thank God she was pleasant or i might have thrown a fit but i cant blame her! I just laughed and answered: No, that’s me. This is my latest passport. While i turned the pages of my passport to my latest loser photo.
Last saturday was my last cross for the year. I made sure that I got the shoes that I always wanted –and more. 😀 till next time, Nong Khai!
*I heard two restaurants in Lotus are going to be established in VTE soon (The Pizza Company and Svensen’s). oooh! nice!
** My dad said if an immigration officer sees that you’ve traveled a lot, they would most likely save you from interrogation and other scary situations in that freaky area. It’s kind of a hassle though, having a thick book to carry around. but yeah, i think it serves its purpose.