So we had decided to wind up the harvest early as we could see that black wood was still developing and the general consensus was perhaps another 3 months. The carvers finished up at Lunch time so after they had left for the bus station the three of us spent the afternoon packing away chips as well as sorting, weighing and packing pieces as we were all going to take some back with us to test the market and see where would be best to sell and what pieces were the most popular. However the CITES certificate hadn’t come though in time (even though we had applied weeks before – but dealing with pen pushers in Laos is worse then Thailand so I can’t be bothered boring you with those details) As Paul and Sammy were due to go home via Vinh in Vietnam I wanted to get back to Vientiane to try and get a visa for Thailand.
Currently I am just on a 30 day tourist permit. From what I understand I am only allowed three of then in a 180 day period before I need to apply for something more permanent. I thought this would be a good time to do it and had brought all my paperwork with me just in case.
So after a late night packing everything up I hit the sack for my best nights sleep since arriving. I wonder how much of it had to do with that sweet smelling Agarwood that was in my room!
The next morning we had a company meeting over breakfast before I headed west with the products as well as all my gear. I got a lift this time which was so much nicer then going by bus especially with everything I was taking.
We got into Vientiane at 4.30pm and went straight to the phone company Tigo to try and set up my computer online but their service was down so there was nothing they could do! Reminded me of a few days prior when the electricity man turned up at the carving house with a bill for 25,000 kip ($4.50 Aus) for the power. The power had been off all day and he couldn’t see what was so strange when I asked him how I could pay a power bill when we don’t even have any power!
From there it was time to find a hotel to stay. I didn’t want my driver to drive me all over town looking for a good place so I chose the first place I saw and thankfully it was quite nice. Small but clean and comfortable and quiet for $16 US a night.
This hotel was only about 200 metres from the Mekong river which is the border from Thailand so this allowed me to put my Thai sim card back in and make cheaper and clearer calls to Seerung as well as get onto the internet through my laptop.
Because of all my stuff I had to take with me flying was out of the question and to take a bus would involve swapping buses about 4 times to get home so I thought I would hire a car, drive it home then the next morning take it back to the airport at Ubon. Even with the 3,000 baht delivery charge it would still be quicker and cheaper then flying.
The next day the man (Eddie, who we do business with) who had dropped me back to Vientiane had kindly offered to drive me around to help organise a few things. After a lovely breakfast at the Scandinavian bakery we made it to the Thai Embassy 5 minutes before they opened at 8.30am. I had done some research before leaving Thailand and had read that you apply for your Visa in the morning and pick it up the following afternoon. This was no good to me as that day was a Friday and I didn’t want to hang around till Monday afternoon to pick it up.
The main reason for this is because a few days before Seerung had called to tell me of that bad news about Brother in Law Khum being in the ICU of Ubon hospital so that Seerung was having to do a lot more work helping out with his two kids etc and then the day before both Ariya and Marisah had come down with vomiting and diarrhea. Seerung was being overwhelmed so I wanted to get back as soon as I could to help out. I had heard from someone else that it was possible to get it in one day so I thought it was worth a shot. It didn’t work! It would have to be another 30 day visa for me and sort out something more permanent later on.
So after that waste of time we went of in search of a export company who would ship some samples of some wood chips to Italy for testing for us. Once that was organised it was off to get quotes for shipping the boxes to Paul and Sammy once the CITES came through before going to Eddies office to repack the wood that was waiting for CITES into new boxes that we had purchased that morning. While there I checked my emails and discovered that hiring a car wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. Not sure what to do Eddie then came up with the idea of hiring a car and driver from the border to take me direct home. After the most delicious lunch at a French Restaurant (beef salad for entree, Fish, veges and potato for MAINS, lemon meringue pie for desert and as much bread as you want in a flash(ish) restaurant for $10 US) we went to a travel agent who could organise a car for us. They were too expensive so we made the 20 minute drive to the border and negotiated one for ourselves to leave at 9am this next morning. Back to the hotel where I spent hours catching up on emails and other work related stuff.
The next morning breakfast was once again at the wonderful Bakery (3 egg omelette with veges inside, 1 Croissant, 1 bread roll, 1 hot chocolate, 1 OJ and 1 bowl of fruit for $3.50 US – at least the French left something after their time of rule in Laos!) before driving out to the border and off back home. The trip home can be found here