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Bangkok - Nong Khai - Vientiane - Luang Prabang, and back to Bangkok on a back packing trip: 23 - 31 July 2006
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Luang Prabang bus station
After two nights in the centre of northern Laos culture, I headed back to Vientiane by a day-bus. The bus left Luang Prabang bus station in the morning at 8 a.m. and we arrived into Vientiane 10 hours later. There were three buses running between Vientiane and Luang Prabang in each direction.

Chao Fangoun monument in Vientiane
Chao Fangoun monument. During my last night stay in the capital I continued walking tour of the town, also made more friends at the guesthouse. People were surprised when they knew my age. Many told me their parents were not going abroad that way any more.

A temple in Vientiane
As a comparison I added here a temple in Vientiane. Basically things are the same, but you can see the differences on the details. As in other places this temple has a drum tower - on the right side of the picture. It is a open structure with a drum on one of its floors. Drum and bell are used for announcing or making a pleasant sound after or before an activity is done. In northern Thailand and Myanmar most pagodas have at their top unbrella with hanging bells under it thus making a musical when the wind strikes.

At immigration counter, departure port of border bridge in Lao side - Vientiane
Exiting Laos at friendship border bridge in Vientiane. Foreign tourists queuing at immigration check out counters. They have computers and networking which was more advanced than Myanmar where poor Burmese nationals holding their passports could only leave and enter their own country at Yangon airport because they did not have a computer network covering the land border check points. As a western passport holder I do not need a visa to enter Thailand - a privilege over other Myanmar people of so-called ASEAN organization.

Mudmee guesthouse in Nong Khai
I knew I might not come back here again so I took the opportunity to spend a night in Nong Khai - Thai side of the Mekong river. From my checking on the Internet I had the address of Mudmee guesthouse. I shared a room with other two back packers paying 90 Thai Baht for the night. Toilet and shower were outside.

While in Nong Khai I went to the market, a temple, took a walk along the river. In the evening and night I talked to the fellow room mates, and listened how they made money and how they managed to stay in Thailand and Laos under 5 dollar a day budget.

Finally back in Hua Lampong central train station in Bangkok
Finally at the end of my nine nights journey to Laos I was back in one morning at Hua Lampong central train station in Bangkok where I kept a 2500 Thai Baht apartment for a month period.

Back home I did a calculation of my expenses and found that my 8 days and 7 nights travel in Laos costed me just 3690 Thai Baht or roughly 100 US$ not including the meals I ate there for which I did not have record. All in all including the meals and drinks and things I bought at night bazar it is estimated to be about 150 US$ that is, by the way, the price of my back pack which I bought a year ago in the UK.

If Laos received 200,000 back packers in one year with average spending about the same as I did the contribution we make to Laos economy will be 30 million dollars a year. That is roughly the same amount of my last company yearly revenue. We sold most of our services and products to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. So what about the net income to Laos? What they need to import?

My 350 square meter house consists of a 5000 books library, a home office with equipment more sophisticated than those in a Lao immigration office, etc. all for my family of four. I can put my writing on the Internet while a boy in a Lao temple simply can not. Well, the two worlds of have and have not are widely apart. I now remember the words of a monk in a Yangon monastery. He talked about sharing the world resources for long time use based on the fact that what we can get from the world is limited.

To arrange your travel in Laos, Thailand, etc. check this site: www.trekthailand.net

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