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Old 11-03-2017, 08:21 PM
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holmertz holmertz is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2007
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Default To PaulVDV: strange country

Thank you Paul,
It was indeed possible to go to Laos during the war, but it was a very strange country and it was a lottery who would get a visa. When I went to the embassy in Bangkok I met a man my age from Switzerland who had just received one. When I entered they told me they wouldn't give me one, so I should just leave. I complained that they had issued a visa to one person from a neutral country, so why not to me? My country was also neutral. Then they said all right, come back tomorrow. But on the visa it didn't say how long I was entitled to stay. I was told by other travellers that if I went straight from Bangkok to Vientiane I would get three days, unless I was German, Then I would have got three months. But if I entered in the far north I could theoretically stay for ever. It was only upon arrival in Vientiane that the length of the stay was decided, and if you came from inside the country you would be given a month. So I went that way. Because of the war it was impossible to travel overland. Flying was the only way. In the small border town I bought my flight ticket for the airline owned by one of the princes (Laos was a monarchy) and they charged me according to the black market rate. Even at an official level they used the illegal exchange rate.
It was a very unusual country, where the guerrilla fighting the government was actually part of the government, at least theoretically, and had a big office in the capital, guarded by enemy soldiers standing side by side.
It was possible to go to Cambodia and South Vietnam too, but I decided that could be too dangerous, and not really worth the trouble - or money.
Have a nice weekend,
Gert
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