Behind the Smile, the story of Lek, a bargirl in Pattaya

The Story of Lek, a Bar Girl in Pattaya
'Daddy's Hobby'

Going To Laos for a Thai Visa

On Wednesday this week, my wife and I had to make our quarterly journey to Laos for a Thai visa. We both hope that it will be our last, because, well, we've made the trip six or eight times now and it has become tiresome. Twelve hours on coaches is not our idea of fun any more. Nor is getting ripped off at borders and embassies.

Going To Laos for a Thai Visa

Going To Laos for a Thai VisaSomehow, the Lao Border Agency has decided that it will charge $30 for an entry visa or 1,500 Thai baht. Now, there are 30 baht to the dollar so, that is obviously not right, is it?

Anyway, there is always something to talk about on one of these trips to Laos for a Thai visa. This trip went very well actually with no discernable delays. We did not have to wait more than ten minutes longer than expected for any of our six connections.

Six each way that is, of course, because you cannot just get on a bus and go to Laos for a Thai visa, you need three buses and three taxis each way. One of the buses was really funny, well, it would have been even funnier, if it hadn't risked the lives of the forty-odd people aboard with carbon monoxide poisoning.

It started with a rumble and a whine not far to the right, behind and below me. The driver and the conductor obviously knew what was going on, because the bus slowed to a crawl and his mate came back with a large spanner.

He lifted a panel in the flooring, clipped it up and then lay down flat in the aisle with his hands in the hold. The exhaust smoke that had been being taken away by the slipstream was now billowing up into the bus and everyone was coughing and spluttering.

The noise of the engine was pretty loud too. I don't know why they did not stop and let us all off, but then, I suppose everyone was wondering that too. I have never seen anything like that ever before.

The hotel was one we had stayed in a few times before. It is family-owned and run and they remembered us. However, this time we had to have a room where the window offered a splendid view of the wall of the house next door, which was less than a foot away.

It wasn't even painted, but as we were only there for one night we did not want to cause a fuss and embarrass people by jumping ship. The next morning, we both wished that we had though.

We had kept the bathroom light on all night as a kind of night lamp and a beacon to guide us on the way to the toilet, but when we went down to breakfast, we had to take our room key out of the holder which turned all the electricity off.

When we returned and replaced the key, the first thing I saw was a 3"x1" cockroach cleaning its mandibles on my toothbrush. "Look at that!" I said to my wife, "I would never share my toothbrush!"

She looked at me straight-faced and said: "It's your fault for not cleaning it properly, isn't it?"

My fault that there were cockroaches in the hotel? And I'd only been there for twelve hours! As if it would not have been so bad, if the cockroach had just clambered up onto my toothbrush, licked it, found no food, had a crap and gone away disappointed!

The highlight of the trip to Laos for a Thai visa for me was meeting a lovely retired Norwegian gentleman in a restaurant near the hotel. He was enjoying his beer, a man after my own heart, and said that it was one of the great pleasures of travelling to sample the different local beers.

I couldn't agree more.

Anyway, we got talking and I somehow told him that I was a writer. When my pen ran out of ink, I was writing between conversations, he offered to swap my useless 15c Biro for his far better one. It was to be his souvenir, he said. He also looked up my trilogy 'Behind The Smile' on his iPad and ordered the first volume there and then.

I shook his hand when I left and really meant it.

by +Owen Jones

 

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BTS 1: Daddy's Hobby

BTS2: An Exciting Future

BTS3: Maya - Illusion
BTS4: The Lady in the Tree

BTS5: Stepping Stones

BTS6 - The Dream