After a shitty bus ride and an equally shitty nights sleep, I made it across the border in Laos. The visa control at this border crossing (and I imagine all others) is quite the disorganized rabble. Everyone 'lines up' at one window to deposit your passport and visa forms, then you wait thiry minutes and fight back through the crowd to pay your visa fee and collect your passport, visa stamp and evytang! After that adventure I was actually glad I wasn't joining everyone on the slow boat to Luang Prabang; having to endure a crowded four hour journey would have been icing on the crap cake.
For the past day and a half I've been in limbo in the border town Huay Xai, waiting for my scheduled Gibbon Experience tour on the 11th. In hindsight I should have overstayed my Thai visa by one day and paid the five hundred Baht fine so I could stay another day in Pai, but live and learn I guess. There's not much going on here in Huay Xai, thankfully this is my last full day here. I took a long walk around the town today, which actually turned out to be pretty cool, taking my up into the hills to a hilltop Wat and past an old abandoned military fortification. Laotian architecture is very appealing to me, some of them have some pretty top shelf houses, resembling a kind of Italian villa (picture to follow later). The walk also made the brute introduction between Lao rice whiskey and I. Some Lao guys hanging out under a canopy offered me a shot, and it was pretty damn potent stuff; my mouth felt like I had downed a shot of paint thinner.
Tomorrow morning I head out on the three-day Gibbon Experience to zipline and trek through the jungle. Expect a adrenaline-fueled post when I return.