Visa trip to Savannaketh Laos

My 60 (+ 30 days extension) tourist visa was finished, so I decided to make the new visa in Savannaketh Laos, since there is a Thai Consulate that gives Visa’s.
We (my girlfriend and me) left Bangkok by train on 26/06/09 by train at 05.45 am to Ubon Ratchathani the ticket costs about 500 Baht and the train is quiet comfortable with lots of leg space. We arrived in Ubon at 02.15 pm and we took a taxi (100 baht) to the Sri Isaan Hotel where I booked a room for 1 night at the price of 400 Baht. The people at the Hotel are really friendly and very helpful with information, about whatever you want to know.

The next day we took a taxi to Mukdahan, since I was tired sitting trains and busses, but it’s expensive (1500 Baht). The taxi brought as straight to the Friendship Bridge 2 where you get a bus across the bridge for 50 Baht, and your passport will also stamped out. Once you arrive at the Lao side of the bridge you go to the office that’s called “Visa on arrival” there you fill out the forms, give 1 picture, and photocopy of your passport and of course your passport. Depending on what country you’re from it will cost 30 to 40 US$ or 1000 to 1500 Baht. You get a 30 day Tourist visa.

After all this was done we took a tuk-tuk (150 Baht) to the Leena Guesthouse (350 Baht), the room was Ok with AC, TV hot water but no fridge. Since we arrived on a Friday afternoon I couldn’t go to the Consulate since Visa applications are only from 8.30 am until 12.00 noon, so after a quick shower we headed towards the “town centre” where I found a really good Restaurant-Bar named the “Café Chez Boune” the guy who serves speaks fluently English and he likes to have a chat about everything, it seems he travelled a lot a he used to live in the US but he is Lao from origin. The restaurant is situated opposite the Chamber of Commerce and the Sabai Dee restaurant, if you ever go to Savannaketh surely go there, the food is excellent and the steaks are enormous, of course the Beer Lao also (40 Baht big Bottle). We had a great time at that place.

The next day (Sunday) we decided to rent bicycles (60 Baht for one) and we had really fun driving across Savannaketh and its easy here, little traffic. We went to the market witch is huge, there you can find stuff you never seen before and one can make good bargains as well.

After a day on the bicycle we decided to have evening dinner at the Sabai Dee Restaurant as the owner of the Chez Boune recommended it. It was great we had the “muu kata” and spicy shrimp salad and, of course for me a lot of beer, the live band is pretty good also and they play covers of English music on request, but who likes to English music as there is very good Lao music (if ones likes it).Total cost 600 Baht!! (Included 5 beers). I had a very good sleep that night.

Today it is 29 June and I go to the Consulate, with my rented bicycle of course (only 500 meters). When I arrived there at 8.30 am, to my surprise I was the first one, so filled the Visa application form and handed it over to the person in charge together with 2 pics and photocopy of my passport, and of course my passport. I was surprised that they wanted to see a Thai Bankbook with 45.000 Baht on it, I said I can not own a Thai bank account on a Tourist Visa, Ok he said then Thai person has to guarantee for you, luckily my girlfriend was with me, so she said she will guarantee for me; again he wanted her bankbook, but as she works for the Ministry, he immediately backed up and said I can pick up the passport, hopefully with the Visa Stamp tomorrow at 02.00 pm.

Now all this is done, it took only 15 minutes, I can have my breakfast and go on the internet to check my mails at, of course, the chez Boune. For Thai mobile connection you have to go close to the Mekong River, but only with Thai AIS network (Dtac didn’t work), I had internet access with my mobile connected to my laptop using GRPS, and it works well in the morning, in the afternoon there’s more change there is no network connection.

After breakfast we had a trip with the bicycles along the old Colonial part of Savannaketh, I love these old French houses, some of them have been renovated to Hotels.

One of the best things in Savannaketh is the French Baguettes with Pâté, it is also a “must thing” you should eat, and it’s delicious.
In the evening we had a Jimjoom dinner at Sabaidee Restaurant and the necessary beers for me of course.

Now it’s Tuesday June 30, had a noodle soup for breakfast and I am waiting for get my passport back from the Thai consulate at 02.00 pm, so I use the free time to write this report, and surprisingly drinking Coke !!

It’s 02.00 pm now and we are heading of to the Thai Consulate, again I was the first in row and after 1 minute I received my passport with the Visa inside, so problem solved, time to celebrate it with a few beers at Chez Boune.
After a while a German guy joined me for a beer, at we got to talk, I feel lucky after what he told me what happened to him in Thailand.
He also came to Laos to make a Visa, and as it was already 02.20 pm I made him clear that the Consulate only hand over the Visa between 02.00 pm and 02.30 pm!! So in a hurry he went to get his Visa also.
I tell in short what happened to him.

He lived already several years in Thailand and his “wife” convinced him to open a mini market in her village, so as naive as he was, he did this an invested all his money in it, thinking it will pay back, what of course it doesn’t. He brought a lot of machinery from Germany, since he was a mechanic, and wanted do some things just to pass his time and to get borrowed. One day he needed those, and to his surprise he couldn’t find any, so he asked his wife where she moved them, she just said that her brother sold them so he could buy some “Jaba”, when he asked for how much she answered, for a good price namely 300 baht!! Of course he got angry. He had to support a family of 10 with the income of the mini market, and every few months his wife went to Germany. After a while he found out that she was married with a German in Germany who supported her. I asked him why he stayed with her, the problem was he doesn’t have any money to go somewhere, not even to talk going to Germany.

So now probably everyone understand why a said “I feel lucky”.

At night we had small thing to eat and went to bed early, deciding we will stay a few days more in Savannaketh.

After a few days we got the same way back as we came