Journey to beautiful La....okay, back to Bangkok!
Trip Start Aug 25, 2003
38Trip End Jul 23, 2004
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We passed back into Thailand across the Mekong River, and into the town of Nong Khai. It was only a few hour stop, waiting for our night train to Bangkok, but I think we found our future retirement spot. Following a tree-lined gravelly road past these neat open floor plan houses and art studios, we ended up at Mut Mee Guesthouse; really, it should be named "Ok, Admit It, You Want To Give It All Up and Move Here". They have lounge chairs and hammocks by the river for relaxing, and a beautiful thatched-roof patio for relaxing, and these cute, bamboo-y bungalows that looked perfect for...relaxing. Plus, they had great food and a smiley French couple running it, and Phil had to pry my fingers off of the patio roof support when it was time to catch the train. Sigh...
Back in Bangkok, just to do the required paperwork stuff of traveling: flight reconfirmations, visas into the next country, getting enough malaria pills to last another 3 months....You know, typical vacation stuff. Adamant we would not pay the $10 commission for a travel agency to procure our visas to Myanmar for us, we found the number to the Myanmar embassy and called to find out the hours. We called 15 times over 3 hours. but no one ever answered. Upon arriving at the embassy, we discovered why: there was actually only one person doing anything, and there was a huge line of people waiting to talk to this one person. We were instructed to come back the next day right when the embassy opened, and we might get to talk to that one in-demand person. To make a long story short, we got to the embassy even before it opened, and we still waited for almost 5 hours. At least it was air-conditioned. And that long visit ended on an amusing note; when the visa guy read my application and saw I was a nurse, he said,"Is it bad to have a liver hemangioma?" This caught me a little off guard, not only because I haven't really thought about nursing stuff for a few months now (except when the German couple asked me about constipation; completely different story), but also because my field is labor and delivery, which isn't a heavy liver hemangioma unit. I dug deep for that part of my brain labelled "Other Stuff I Learned in Nursing School" and said that, if it was small, he would probably just need to get it checked out again, and if it got bigger, then they might do some tests to find out the cause. He seemed pleased and said that I was agreeing with his doctor, I was pleased that my response was fairly noncommittal and probably didn't endanger my license, and we both smiled big smiles at each other. He collected some brochures about Myanmar for us (no one else had left with any brochures, so I felt special) and, still big smiles, said we could get our passports back at 3 pm. After we left, I told Phil that I hoped that his liver hemangioma didn't explode or his doctor call with a terminal diagnosis before 3, or he would probably burn our passports and then shoot us on sight. Instead, when we returned at 3, we found a long line of people waiting for their passports, but my new best friend saw us and waved us to the front of the line because our visas were the only ones done. Three cheers for nurses!
This wait was repeated when we went for our Indian visas, but at least we could leave and eat lunch while we were waiting, so it wasn't so bad. In retrospect, it does seem worth it to pay the commission for one of the Khao San Road shops to get your visa for you; still, it was worth the wait at the Myanmar embassy just to experience my first VIP treatment. I think it bears repeating: three cheers for nurses! And may that man and his liver hemangioma live a long and healthy life...