Previously: Part 11 – Crossing to Laos
Still Day 5: Friday, 30 August 2013
The dark, gloomy and cloudy weather greeted my arrival in Laos. I did not do a proper research, so I had no idea what to expect here. Once I’ve reached the immigration checkpoint, my heart jumped in joy as finally, I managed to set foot onto a new country in ASEAN region. After filling up the arrival form given, I proceeded to the immigration checkpoint. “Sabaidee“, I said after being told by my Japanese friends that this is the greetings in Laos. “Kup-Jai [pronounce as Kapbucai]”, I said again when he returned my passport with Laos stamp. Yes, you guess it right. Kup-Jai is thank you.
Cuaca mendung menyambut ketibaan aku kat Laos. Ok, skema sangat ayat ni. Tak maulah! Sekali lagi… Sampai-sampai je Laos, aku tengok langit, mendung giler. Tapi, hati rasa seronok sebab tak plan, tak plan pun, sampai jugak kat Laos. Dah isi borang ketibaan tu, aku pun pergi kat kaunter cop passport. Dengan senyuman manis, aku sapa pegawai bertugas “Sabaidee!”. Ni mamat Jepun dua orang tu ajar aku. Bila passport dah cop, aku cakap “Kup-Jai [bunyi macam Kapbucai]”. Haa tu maknanya terima kasih.
The three of us then walked to the border control area, and noticed that there was an electronic gate, which stopped people from crossing to the main road. We wanted to pass the gate, but did not know how. Then, an immigration officer came and told us to “buy ticket“. Wow, I thought. We have to buy a ticket to enter into a country?
Kami bertiga jalan sampailah kat satu pagar elektronik ni. Macam kena ada tiket nak masuk. Ala, macam pagar kat stesen Komuter dengan stesen LRT tu. Kami blur, nak lintas macam mana ni. Tiba-tiba seorang pegawai datang bagitau kami “buy ticket”. Hah, nak masuk negara kena beli tiket? Amboih!
Since Laos’ Kip is not traded outside the country, I did not have any kip available. Gladly, Thai Baht and US Dollars were widely accepted. I paid for the ‘border control pass’ for THB 40, which was around 10,000 Kip.
Duit Kip tak didagangkan kat luar, jadi satu kip pun aku takde. Nasib baik nak beli ‘tiket’ tu boleh pakai Baht. Aku pun belilah dengan harga THB 40, lebih kurang 10,000 Kip.
I put the ticket into the gate slot and voila, officially I was in Laos!
Aku masukkan dalam slot tiket pagar tu dan yezzaaaa, dah sampai Laos!
As soon as we exited the immigration area, a lot of tuk-tuk drivers swarmed us, offering us to use their service to Vientiane city centre. They quoted the price of THB 250 per tuk-tuk, in which we replied “No, no… expensive“. They showed us the huge price notice board and convinced us that the price is standard. We bargained a bit and one of the drivers accepted to give us a ride for THB 200 per tuk-tuk.
Elok je keluar dari kawasan imigresen, pakcik-pakcik tuk-tuk datang serbu kami. Bajet selebriti sekejap. Haha. Diorang tanya kami bertiga, nak naik tak tuk-tuk ke pusat bandar, harga THB 250. Laju je kami jawab, “No, no… expensive”. Pakcik-pakcik tu tak puas hati kami kata mahal, dia tunjuk papan tanda harga. Oh, memang standard katanya. Tapi, kami tak kira. Tawar jugak sampai dapat THB 200. Oklah kan diskaun 50 baht tu.
Along the way, there was funny feeling inside me. Funny because in Laos, the road system is like in the United States. Left hand drive instead of right hand drive like in Malaysia. (The only other place I encountered this was in Cambodia. Read here – in Bahasa). Then, it was funny because I did not plan this trip, and suddenly here I was, in Laos, with 2 Japanese friends who was excited when they knew that the jeans I wore was bought in Uniqlo. They even asked if we had Daiso, Kinokuniya and all the Japanese-brands.
Sepanjang perjalanan, rasa pelik sangat. Pelik sebab rasa diorang ni macam drive kat arah jalan yang salah (Macam Kemboja. Boleh baca kat sini). Lepas tu rasa pelik sebab tak rancang, tapi sampai jugak. Lepas tu pelik sebab duduk dengan Hibiki dan Yuya ni, diorang punyalah excited bila dapat tahu seluar aku jenama Uniqlo. “Japan brand… Japan brand”. Diorang kata. Haha. Habis diorang tanya kat Malaysia ada tak Daiso, Kinokuniya semua.
The distance between the border and the city centre is around 25 km. Along the way, I saw big houses, sometimes small houses, and empty spaces in between. The road was okay, no major potholes as in Phnom Penh. In fact, there was no traffic jam here whilst on the way to the city centre. My first thought was that there would be a lot of motorcycles, but I was wrong too. There were more cars and I could see that the favourite brand here is Hyundai.
Jarak antara sempadan dengan pusat bandar dalam 25 km. Sepanjang perjalanan, nampak rumah orang, besar, kecil, tanah lapang. Tapi, jalan kat sini okay. Tak adalah teruk sangat berlubang. Malahan, aku rasa lagi kemas dari dekat Phnom Penh. Traffic jam pun tak ada. Sebelum ke sini, aku bayangkan sini banyak motorsikal. Tapi, tak weyhhh. Banyak kereta. Hyundai lagi!
Soon, the tuk-tuk driver stopped his tuk-tuk and told us that we had reached our destination. I went out of the tuk-tuk and around me was people. A lot of people. I read in Lonely Planet that the bus station named Talat Sao, is near the market, but I did not expect the driver to drop us in the middle of the market!
Tak lama lepas tu pakcik tuk-tuk berhentikan kami kat tengah-tengah pasar. Stesen bas dekat je dengan pasar, tapi kat pasar ni jugak dia berhentikan. Ramai orang kat kiri kanan kawasan Talat Sao ni. Orang berniaga macam-macam kat tepi jalan.
People selling vegetables, flowers are in abundance and they were selling from the roadside. I asked Hibiki and Yuya whether they had made any booking for accommodation. They said they had not but they have read somewhere that Mixay Paradise is a good choice and they were going there. As I was all alone, I tagged along with them, asking them if they mind. They said no problem, and the three of us walked together, armed with a map, to find the guesthouse which I had no idea where.
Jual sayur, jual bunga. Tapi, tepi jalan. Fuh, meriah! Sebab aku tak ada booking, lepas tu Hibiki dan Yuya, walaupun tak book, tapi dah plan nak tinggal kat Mixay Paradise, aku pun tag dengan diorang. Diorang pun kata tak kisah. Dengan peta yang Hibiki bawa, kami pun cari celah mana Mixay Paradise ni.
We were lost several times. We passed through the hospital and suddenly we saw ourselves in front of the riverbank. “Wrong, wrong“, Hibiki said whilst turning and turning his Japanese-language map. We walked again, until we finally, after almost an hour, found Mixay Paradise Guesthouse.
Sesat barat kami bertiga ni weyhhhhh. Dahlah peta bahasa Jepun. Kami jalan-jalan, sekali sampai jalan mati, depan tu sungai. Patah balik. “Wrong, wrong”, Hibiki kata, sambil dok pusing-pusing peta dia tu. Haha. Kami jalan dan jalan dan jalan, dekat nak sejam tapi tak sampai lah sejam kan, kami pun sampai Mixay Paradise Guesthouse.
It was raining when we reached Mixay Paradise. Hibiki and Yuya checked-in first, whilst I waited at the lobby area. When it was my turn, at the reception area, I asked if it rains everyday, to which the staff answered in affirmative. Ah, bad timing, I guess. But of course, it won’t deter me to explore the place. I checked the price of the guesthouse and I opted for a single-fan-only-shared-bathroom-no-breakfast room for THB 300 per night. I paid for a night, as I did not know whether I would want to stay for another night or return back to Thailand after a night.
Aku tengok-tengok harga bilik, oklah mampu lagi lah. Haha. Aku pun check-in untuk satu malam, pilih bilik kipas, kongsi bilik air, katil single, tanpa sarapan (giler kau nak ambil yang ada sarapan entah apa dia masak. haha), dengan harga THB 300 semalam.
The guesthouse had orange juice as welcome drinks, and provided elevators. I went to my room on the 4th floor and put my belongings. I was so excited to see the room. Although kind of small, the tiny details like the bed runner and an extra fan apart from the wall fan made me think that it was a nice guesthouse. Plus, the room was spotless. I had a look at the shared bathrooms (3 bathrooms on the 4th floor) and they were clean too.
Sebelum naik lif (ya, guesthouse ni ada lif!), aku minum jus oren yang diorang bagi sebagai welcome drink. Lepas tu, naik lif kat tingkat 4, letak barang, usha bilik mandi (ada 3 di tingkat 4-besar jugak!), usha bilik, usha floor, fuh, bersih dan selesalah kehendaknya.
I went back to the room, hoping that my sleep will be comfortable here. Oh, they provide WiFi in the room too!
Aku balik bilik, duduk, dan berharap dalam hati, moga boleh tidur dengan tenang malam ni. Oh lupa pulak. Dalam bilik ada WiFi tau!
Have you been to Vientiane? Where did you stay at?
To be continued – Part 13
While dormitories are available in Vientiane, the prices of private room in backpacker’s lodge or guesthouses are cheap. For good location, find a guesthouse near to the riverside, where all the cafes, bars and markets are situated at. At Mixay Paradise Guesthouse, THB 300 [as of August 2013] will give travellers a single bedded room with fan and shared bathroom but without breakfast. This guesthouse provides WiFi and bathrooms are cleaned several times a day. Payment in Baht, USD and Kip are accepted. For my review on the guesthouse, click here.