White Temple in a hurry and across to Laos
Trip Start Sep 15, 2012
138Trip End May 01, 2013
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Around 8.15am we left in our minibus following a minor annoyance concerning a miserable faced German lady and her husband who sat on the outside two seats of a row and wouldn't budge over...Vikki having crawled in and worried about travel sickness then negotiated with an American to swap with her and sit up front, unfortunately after the American vacated the German woman then moved into the front seat even though she had witnessed the exchange between Vikki and the Yank over swapping?? Life should be easier, Paula caught hold of the door before the lady closed it and following a lot of foreign words muttered she moved back to her seat, next to her husband!
A couple of hours later following a quick cigarette and beer pit stop we arrived into Chiang Rai and were told we had exactly FIFTEEN minutes to see and photograph the White Temple.....fifteen minutes! This temple was the single most beautiful building we had ever seen, a picture of pure white glistening architecture, vastly ornate, and twinkling like a multitude of stars from the bright sunlight that bounced off every curve and swirl of its rendered design. We didn't have time to ponder the disappointment of the time we had, so we got snapping away and quickly made our way over the walkway and into the temple itself, a internal space that was ridiculously small compared to the overall size of the structure. Inside a single monk sat staring, meditating cross-legged whilst hundreds of bare foot of tourists marched in and out, he didn't blink an eye.
Painfully aware of our time limit we high-tailed it back to the minibus to find everyone waiting for us - some had seen no point in visiting the temple as they too were 'templed out' but were disappointed when we gave them a wide eyed account of it's beauty! Two British girls on the bus had stopped in the shop not realising that this was part of the package trip they had paid for and the time constraints and before they knew it they were being hustled back on the bus with the guide telling them that the White Temple was not actually part of their tour
Shortly after we arrived at a hotel near the Laos border and everyone was bundled out dazed and confused! Luckily, Greg and Heidi (being seasoned travellers) took us under their wing and pretty soon we were in another transfer for the 3km ride to the border proper - we must have looked all innocent and naive! We got our papers stamped and headed to what must be, quite possibly, the strangest border crossing ever. We were rushed into a dugout boat surrounded by cows and chickens on the Thai shore and made a quick flit over the Mekong river to the Laos side where we disembarked and went through a fairly painful process of obtaining our Laos Visa - money changed hands (and some extra for 'overtime' for the officials - anything after 4pm...), tourists were clambering over each other, Tuk-Tuk drivers were touting for business, a lady fell down the slipway after being run over by a drinks trolley....madness!
We somehow got through it and walked up the main drag with Greg and Heidi giving us strength in numbers. By this point a beer was well in order...for all of us...but first, the small matter of getting accommodation for the night and arranging a boat down the Mekong to Luang Prabang
Tick list complete we settled down for a relatively decent nights sleep wondering how the hell we would survive six hours in a packed boat with our knees up round our chins...