How I Ended in Laos and not Vietnam.


One well-planned weekend ended as one of the zaniest.

The objective

Mom and I had to leave Thailand because we entered each on a US passport. After receiving her Thai Passport, she could re-enter Thailand and stay indefinitely as a Thai citizen. I would leave and re-enter to extend my tourist visa for another 30 days.

(In case you were wondering why I didn’t renew Mom’s passport in the States …. I could have, but we’d need to fly to Los Angeles, the nearest Thai consulate from San Francisco. It would have been another ordeal to reckon with.)

So ….

The original plan

Fly to Vietnam, stay one night at a nice ibis hotel, and return the following day. Simple enough, no? Get in, get out: like the A-Team!

What happened

During check-in, the airline associate asked me for my visa to Vietnam. Wait, what? Apparently, I needed a pre-approved visa (unlike Thailand where only a valid passport is required) because of my US visa. Oh boy.

I asked which countries would allow passage without a needing a pre-approved visa. Laos, Singapore.

Okay, Laos, you’re closer. I’m buying tickets to you. Get ready.

Upon landing in Luang Prabang International Airport, I escorted my mom through immigration. She made it through easily, due to her Thai Passport. Thailand is an ASEAN member and passport holders of those countries can freely pass without visas.

I, of course, could not. Fortunately, I could get in line with the other foreigners and apply immediately for a tourist visa. $37 USD later, we’re on our way to ….

…. a hotel? WHERE ARE THE AIRPORT HOTELS? Oh, this isn’t a liberal, cosmopolitan city, you say? Alright.

50,000 KIP ($6 USD) later, we’re taxi’ed to its downtown district. We check into a smallish room in a local guesthouse, eat dinner near the Mekong River, and settle in for the night. No more drama, please.

Besides caring for a disabled elderly person, the rest of the trip became a day of logistics, less tiring and hectic: get to the airport, check-in, wait, eat, immigration, etc.


The wonderful thing is that Mom and I laughed incessantly during the journey. “What a day, what a crazy day,” we’d tell each other over childish gigglin’. :D