Published: July 23rd 2011July 19th 2011
Arrived on the sleeper bus at the Vietnam-Lao border crossing at 05:00 and slept for another while because the border only opens at 07:00. Around 06:45 I saw what looked like a border guard assume his post, so I went to him, and sure enough, he was willing to stamp an exit stamp on my passport, for $1. But of course, one does not get a receipt for this $1 which I believe actually ends up in the border guard's own pocket.
After that formality, I figured I might as well walk over to the Lao side and try and get an entry visa. So, I walked down the road into the first building I saw, and some workers inside pointed me further down the road. I repeated the above procedure at least another 10 times, and after walking nearly 2 km, found the actual Lao border post where they issued a visa for $42 plus $1 for having no photo and another $1 for a "stamping fee". The $42 was posted as the price for Canadians, which, thanks to the illustrious (or should I say delusional?) Canadian governments' foreign policy turns out to be the highest amount charged to any foreign national. The lack of a photo was entirely my fault. I had lots of passport sized photos - I'd just not kept them with my passport and could not remember where in my pack they were. Not that it mattered anyway, cause the pack was 2 km back up the road in the bus! As for the "stamping fee" ... well, that was for the border guard's own pocket I believe.