After more than 11 years (Martin) and 8 years (Susanne) since we separately visited Laos as backpackers, we are now back again only this time together and by bicycle. Returning to Laos by bicycle has already given us new insights to this little country where communism is the base of the country.
Crossing the Mohan – Boten border was unexciting and turned out to be the simplest border crossing ever. Parked the bicycles outside the Chinese immigration got our passport stamped, walked back out and cycled to the Lao border where we paid for the visa and got the visa in 5 min. We had an early lunch in Boten, where we were expected to pay with Chinese RMB as most people are Chinese.
See the photos here Boten to Nong Khiaw
The last 6 months have been spent in China, Korea and China again. Unaware to us our minds and thoughts had slowly become numb and accustomed to the culture. Developed Korea and the availability of most things in China have influenced the way we see the world and we were in need of a change of environment and definitely received this passing the border to Laos.
Just out of Boten and into Laos we went past 3 elephants waiting for Chinese tourist to hike on them… They didn’t look super happy but again who are we to say? Maybe the elephants are fine there.
Soon we were cycling through small villages where most houses are built from bamboo and elevated from the ground. This was a real surprise that Laos is so rural so close to China where cities are concrete and villages are becoming more and more concrete. We were greeted with “Saabai-dee” from the people along the way and children running to the street. This reminded us a little bit of the children of Tajikistan where kids would also run to the street to greet us. We noticed that most cooking is done on open fires in the small bamboo houses which was a real surprise as even Tajikistan, Mongolia, rural China have inexpensive stoves where they cook on. So in a very short time we really felt that we had stepped back in time and seeing the challenges Laos has standing in front of them.