Thursday, January 16, 2014

28. Ubon Ratchathani - Nong Khai

465 km

The major roads here in Thailand are just great to ride. What took me today about 5 hours and 30 minutes, including gas and lunch stop, will need about 14 days on the way south through Laos, back into Cambodia.

Today I am back in Nong Khai at the guest house directly on the banks of the Mekhong river where I have been before; the Thai-Laos-Friendship Bridge crossing the Mekhong river is in sight from my room. I was here a little over two month ago (12/2/13). I will stay here for two nights, to get everything ready and will leave early in the morning of Saturday, the 18th. I will have breakfast in the capital of Laos, Vientiane, by no later than 10 a.m., I hope.

The wife of a neighbor of my host here at the guesthouse works for Lao Immigration. Her husband showed up tonight on a moped after he was contacted by my innkeeper and told me that he can organize my Laotian Visa at the same cost, and without the need for photos, or waiting in line at the checkpoint. I thought I can trust him with my passport, he assured that he will bring it back tomorrow, Visa and all. He took my passport and disappeared into the night. I hope he will bring it back.

This will be my last post from my quick stay in Thailand. Unfortunately, I had to use my second 60-day Thai Visa for this shortcut through the country lasting only four days.

The country I will visit next, Laos, is slightly larger than Utah. It is rather mountainous, a change from the flatness of Isan here in Thailand, and the plains of Cambodia. Laos is landlocked, northern neighbor is China, to the West Thailand, East: Vietnam, South: Cambodia.

The CIA Factbook "Laos" lists some 39,500 kilometers of roadways for Laos, of which a total of 590 km are paved (89th of worldwide 222 countries; US: Number 1, Germany: 11). Cambodia is listed as No. 88.
Furthermore, the CIA reports for Laos: "Estimated opium poppy cultivation in 2008 was 1,900 hectares, about a 73% increase from 2007; estimated potential opium production in 2008 more than tripled to 17 metric tons".

Sad news

The two sweet young dog puppies here at the guesthouse are now only one. The other dog was run over by a car and killed, although traffic here is very light. The remaining young dog is not a puppy anylonger but grew to a dog of about 60 cm in length and maybe 35 pounds.

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