After a very long day of mixed fortunes (or misfortunes...lol)..
The day was off to a great start, after catching a bus at 6am to the airport...
I was 3 hrs early, but I always do that...I hate being rushed when traveling...thats when you start making stupid mistakes...
Anyway, with plenty of time on hand, I got a coffee, & went out to have a smoke...
There was a guy in a wheelchair, already sitting there....As soon as I saw him, I thought "that guy looks Maori"....he greeted me, & as soon as I replied, he said, with great delight "you're a Kiwi"
He asked where I was from, & I explained that I lived in Saigon, but had come from Timaru...he started laughing...he is from Hinds !!!!
What are the odds?
In a city of 20 million, I meet a guy at the airport, who lived 45 mins away from me, in NZ...LMAO
So...we spent a happy hour chatting...
This guy is pretty amazing....he has been in a wheelchair for 15 yrs, & is traveling around Asia...so far, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam...
The amazing thing is, that he convinced WINZ that it would be cheaper for them, to pay for caregivers in each country, than for him to be stuck at home, in NZ, grouchy & unhappy...LOL
When he arrives in each country, he hires a carer, for 3 months, then provides Winz with the documentation, & they adjust his subsidies accordingly...he claims they are pretty happy with the arrangement, as they are saving heaps!
The young Vietnamese guy who had been looking after him, made $100 week (good wages for a Vietnamese)....imagine getting someone to do fulltime care, for that, in NZ!!!
My hats off to you, Vinnie! It isnt always easy travelling in Asia, even when you are ablebodied...let alone being 60yrs, & physically disabled...you're a STAR!
So...I get to my flight, to find I've been upgraded to a Hot Seat, on Air Asia...WooHoo!
Lmao...it sounds more exciting than it actually is....a wider seat, with more legroom, & a free bottle of water....hardly earth shattering, but every little treat helps, eh?
The point of all this waffling on is that I'm having a great time so far...I'm relaxed & content!
BUT...this is where it starts to go downhill !!!
We land in Bangkok!
Yep...the same Bangkok, who's doors I swore I would never darken again.....
Unfortunately, to get to Luang Prabang, with Air Asia, you have to transit through Bangkok...
So, I bit the bullet, & determined to ignore the past awfulness, with a positive attitude...
Bad mistake...bad bad mistake!
There were absolutely NO signs, indicating where the transit area was...after bumbling about for a bit, I approached an official looking woman, & asked "where do I go?"
She looked me up & down, & GRUNTED at me !!!
No bullshit...she grunted & pointed vaguely....I bumbled off again...& finally found a cleaning lady, who if not overly friendly, at least was polite, & set me in the right direction...(as an aside, it wasnt just me...when I finally reached the departure lounge, I heard two lots of people grumbling about the lack of direction for transitting, & the rudeness)..
When I finally reached the entrance, I was faced with a woman with a face like a smacked arse, who snarled at me "passport & onward ticket"...no welcome, a smile, nothing!
THEN...I had to pass through a body scanner...WTF?
I had passed through border control, xrays etc, at Saigon airport...I had been on the plane, ever since...where the hell was I going to get contraband, between Saigon & Bangkok???
My mood, by this time, was getting sourer by the minute...you people are seriously raining on my parade!
I headed for Starbucks...one of the rare moments of pleasure, I had, last time I was in Bangkok, was discovering that Starbucks had proper sausage rolls! Real puff pastry with spicy sausage meat filling...Yum!
I spotted the sausage rolls, but was contemplating whether something sweet was required, as well, when suddenly this Ladyboy behind the counter, barked at me "What do you want?"...taken aback, I said I was still deciding..."hurry, hurry up!"...I wasnt holding anyone up, I was the only one at the counter...& that was it...I went into killer mode!!!!
"Dont you dare speak to me in that manner...get your supervisor NOW!!"
The supervisor arrived, & after listening, started making excuses (no placatory smile or the customer is always right)...
Apparently, because the Thai King has just died, & everyone is very upset, rudeness is acceptable..who knew?
How does that explain the general Thai rudeness, last time I was there, 1 year ago? Were they grieving in advance? LOL
My day had pretty much turned to shit, & I couldnt wait to get out of this dreadful country...
I got on the plane again...no upgrade this time...to the contrary, I was in the back row...no reclining my seat, knees up under my chin, & squashed in beside two huge (rugby player sized) Aussies....
Their mate was seated 5 rows ahead, & was keen to swap seats with me, so he could play cards with his friends....but no...no way were the flight crew having that...
Can you guess?
Yep...the flight we were on was a THAI Air Asia flight, & the surly crew were doing no favours for anyone!
We finally landed at Luang Prabang INTERNATIONAL airport!
LMAO...what a laugh (& I might add, a very pleasant experience)...
As the plane landed, it jolted & swerved about, then juddered along the runway....not being able to see out the window, past two burly guys, I was thinking "good God, where did this guy get his licence?"
Then, as we got off & had to walk across the tarmac, I could see the problem...all the runways (all two of them..lol) had cracks, potholes, & grass growing out of them...LMAO
We entered the large tin shed, & when a guy said "Welcome to Luang Prabang International airport, there were more than a few sniggers....
The staff here were more than laid back...friendly, smiley, chatty...my black mood lifted instantly!
My visa on arrival cost $30 (different countries had different prices..NZ was the cheapest...there was some grizzling going on about that, especially from the Americans, who have to pay $100...snigger snigger)...when I handed over my $30, the guy said "one more dollar"...I asked what for, & he pointed at a tiny handwritten sign, that said "$1 visa fee"...when I pointed to the large official sign, that quoted NZ $30, he then said the $1 was for a photo...but I had already given him a photo...
When he knew he had been snapped, he just grinned sheepishly, & said "coffee money?"..LMAO...I gave it to him!
You buy a ticket inside the airport, for a shuttle into town...50,000 kip (about $8) for a 10 min ride into town (bloody expensive)...to make it worse, the van wont leave until it is full, & each passenger has to pay the same....so for his 10 min trip, the driver (or the company, I guess) makes $50 odd bucks !!! No wonder they are so smiley...LOL
I finally reached my guesthouse at 5pm, after leaving home in Saigon, at 5 am...I,m pleased to be here!