As the departure date gets closer, I’m realizing there are many more things to consider when preparing to visit a developing country as opposed to plain old Europe.
I had to overnight the Visa application to the Lao Embassy along with the passport, three 2″ pictures, postage-paid return envelope, and a $50 money order. (I am enchanted with the music playing on the Embassy’s website.) This process would not have been too difficult had I gone directly to the US Post Office instead of Fed Ex, which does NOT allow you to prepay for a self-addressed return envelope. It also would have been much simpler if a biblical gust of wind hadn’t blown my papers, photos included, in five different directions.
After rattling off the list of potential maladies I risk contracting by the “helicopter-sized” mosquitoes etc., I have been jokingly asked three times, “Do you really want to go on this trip?” I received five vaccinations at once: Typhoid, Flu, Tetanus, and Hepatitis A & B. Afterward, I went home and waited, shifty-eyed, for some kind of ill effect to take shape, but nothing seemed to happen. At least nothing that I’m aware of. I’m waiting to see what the malaria pills will do. I chose the more expensive Malarone over the Doxycyline because, according to the jovial pharmacist at Rite Aid, people have been known to burst out in boils with exposure to sunlight after taking the “doxy” (as they affectionately refer to it.)
It was quite an ordeal finding a flight to Luang Prabang. My colleague told me that renting a car was out of the question because nobody drives. He also cautioned against the bus because the last thing you want to do after a 26 hour flight is get throttled around a bus on winding, mountainous roads. Many sites recommended the train from Vientiene and some actually recommended all manner of boat rides, but time constraints (and reading the cautionary statement to bring a crash helmet and earplugs) dictated that we fly directly to LPQ.