I swore I wouldn’t come back here – never say never, right? The last two times I’ve undertaken this journey I’ve been sick, as if some curse has been placed on me. Maybe a jilted bar-girl cast a little black magic, who knows?
Unfortunately, I have few options when it comes to renewing my Non-O Thai visa and popping over the border is still a little easier than venturing to HCMC Vietnam.
Unable to put it off any longer, in mid-January, I readied myself for another jaunt to Laos.
Looking online, Nok Air wanted to extort over 9K THB for return travel from Bangkok to Mukdahan – no thanks! So I managed to score much cheaper flights with Thai Lionair and even after paying for a hotel room in Ubon for 2 nights and bus and taxi fares, I’m still ahead – cool!
But it turns it into a 4-day road trip which I really don’t want to take. Since the Mrs is joining me, it will ease the pain a little.
With thaivisa.com reporting horror lines after the appointment system was introduced at Vientiane, I had been putting off coming here for a few months, but staying in Thailand on visa-waiver stamps is now a dangerous game.
There seems to be a lot of conjecture about the days to avoid, and Mondays appear to be one of them. Maybe I got lucky? I decided to get there early (7 AM) and I was 2nd in line. Bought myself a little stool so I didn’t have to stand the entire time.
Time went pretty quickly, chatted to a few folks and before we knew it the gate was unlocked and it was time to head inside.
Paperwork presented and a minor glitch which tripped me up last time caught me out again – luckily easily fixed before I had left the window. Thank you, ma’am!
Still not much to do in Savan
We arrived mid-afternoon on a Sunday. Staying again at the Vivanouk hotel, we meet the owner Nico who was ‘en vacance’ last time I visited. Super nice guy. It’s a quirky hotel with only 3 rooms and a shared bathroom but is high on the charm scale.We take an afternoon stroll around the block and I get my paws on the new Beer Laos IPA – alas I’m underwhelmed – I expect an IPA to punch out a bit and this one fails to deliver. At least I’m getting my hands on one before they’re available in Thailand, and at a dirt cheap price!
It was freezing (like 17 Celcius!) and we hadn’t packed any warm clothes. Hate it when that happens, my own fault!
Being close to the night market is a dual-edge sword. A restless sleep as the noise from nearby pubs doesn’t die down until around 1.00 AM. Cats fighting. Motorbikes revving. Don’t let it put you off, the bed was super comfortable.
We stayed at ‘The Outside Inn’ both on our way to and back from Savan. Sadly it’s changed hands and Brent is gone 🙁 Everything ends!
Thankfully the food was still up to scratch.
We arrive on quiz night and take part. The Mrs isn’t much help (sorry babe!) but our team ‘Brownie and Gravy’ (named after our cats) fairs well until the final few rounds. I fear we came last, as we don’t rate a mention in the quizmaster’s summation. Oh well. C’est la vie!
Speaking of which, I run into the quizmaster again when collecting my passport at the Thai Consulate in Savan – he was also there to renew.
We catch the bus to Ubon with him and have a good chinwag. Another Aussie with an interesting story about his time in the Land of Smiles.