Yesterday I wrote about the plan of travelling through Vietnam to China. Well, it’s now changed, quite a bit.

It’s due to a couple of things:
1. I realised it is too late, or too tight, to try to get a visa that allows me a stay longer than 2-week on-arrival visitor visa. There is actually a reason for putting this off, but without talking about the milk that spilt and long disappeared between tiles on the floor, let’s just say now I need to stay 3 weeks outside of China instead of 2 as originally planned.

2. Then I looked at my upon-arrival visa condition for Vietnam and confirmed I could stay for only up to 15 days there as well. So I looked for an in-between stop-over country. The only realistic option would be Laos. But the path from northern Vietnam into that country is pretty uncomfortable long bus ride on twisty hill road.

3. So suddenly the Thailand Lonely Planet on my desk started jumping up and down in the corner of my vision. The reason for taking a time off to start with was to cover the time when the lantern festival, or Loy Krathon as locally known apparently, is happening. I sort of dismissed it as a bad idea to go into the peak of popular tourist time, but really, it does look like quite a site…

4. I could not visualise the path from Chiang Mai (where one of the largest lantern balloon lifting takes place) to Luang Prabang, but it actually took care of itself when I was reading Laos’s border information page on Lonely Planet website – the slow ferry along the Mekong. That brought back the memory of a couple I was talking to one evening in Luang Prabang, who told me they’d arrived by a boat on the Mekong, as if to say it was ‘the thing to do’… I took an over-night bus from Vientianne, freezing thanks to the passenger who kept opening the window right above my neck despite the cold night air of the hill…

I said in yesterday’s blog that I should just do it- stop looking for a good reason or excuse, just go and see… And that speaking out loud just did this. I’m going to Luang Prabang again.

While eating a take-away lunch at desk, I rang up Singapore Airlines and changed my flight to BKK, instead of SGN. That is why I always book a flight that gives me the flexibility… It may cost a couple hundred more, but I am booking in a higher booking class in economy which the airline looks after better, more priority, etc. and the 100% mileage, which quickly puts you in a group of mildly frequent traveller… And free drink at the member lounge, et cetra…

My colleague told me of Agoda.com where I booked a bed at a relatively new backpacker near the central station.

Within a couple of hours, i found a relatively reasonable hotel in Chiang Mai, so I can stop worrying about dragging myself about the city filled with holiday visitors trying to find a room I can afford, for a week.

The rest will be a train from BKK, but I did not have too much trouble travelling from BKK to Ayuthaya, so I hope it will be as painless…

Anyhow, small changes. But I’m still taking off in 2 days 🙂

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