Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I'm in Laos!

At 9.25 PM (9.25 AM in Toronto) on Monday, December 5, my Lao Airlines flight, originally scheduled to land at 7.25 PM (7.25 AM in Toronto), finally touched down at the airport in Luang Prabang. As soon as I deplaned, I felt the warmth of the night air gently touching my face. It was an absolutely wonderful feeling. Considering the length of my journey and being my first time traveling internationally, I felt remarkably well.

From the plane to the terminal building, a small and the only structure on the airfield, I only had to walk a short distance. Entering through the main doors, one of the airport officials directed me to the customs desk where I needed to pay for and pick up my visa. While I waited in line, I could see Mike standing outside. I instantly and excitedly waved and mouthed hello. He responded in kind, and so did a young Lao man, whom I would soon learn was one of the students sponsored by Adopt a Village in Laos. When it came my turn, I greeted the customs official seated in the booth by saying "Sabaidee"(which means hello in Lao). He smiled and replied, "Sabaidee". Then, I presented my visa paperwork, which I had completed on the flight, and my passport. The whole process was surprisingly swift and painless.

With that out of the way, I walked over to the luggage conveyor, where I anxiously awaited the appearance of my two pieces of luggage. Two days had passed since we parted company at Pearson International Airport in Toronto. In that time, my luggage had been transferred from Delta to Korean Airlines in New York City, from Korean Airlines to another Korean Airlines in Seoul, South Korea, and then finally from that Korean Airlines to Lao Airlines in Hanoi, Vietnam. When they finally materialized, I joyously grabbed them both and ventured down the corridor. Once outside, Mike greeted me warmly and introduced me to Siphan, that young Lao man, who smiled widely and said, "Sabaidee".

Within a few minutes we boarded a tuk-tuk, a small three-wheeled vehicle, which, in this part of the world, is the equivalent of a taxi cab in North America. Like taxi cabs back home, these vehicles are ubiquitous in Luang Prabang. In addition to shuttling people to and fro, they are used for transporting goods and other things.

Traveling aboard this mode of transportation greatly appealed to my sense of adventure. It didn't take long before we arrived at the residence where I would be staying in Luang Prabang. The cost of the trip from the airport to our destination was about 30,000 KIP (8,000 KIP = $1 US), which, in this instance, works out to about $3.75 US.

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