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Dien Bien to Laos via Tay Trang bordergate

Tay Trang border in Dien Bien
We arrived in Dien Bien Phu early evening to be met by the usual onslaught of 20 guys shouting transport and guesthouse suggestions at you. We thank the driver for his great driving and get out of the bus station pronto. We go to my first pick of guesthouses and are followed in by some touts. The rooms are awful so they lead us to their other guesthouse round the back. Still not good we end up paying $15 for a large clean room at the 3rd place behind Viet Hoang. The first place was so bad, considering it had good write ups I wondered if they had just stolen the name (this happens a lot in Vietnam, once somewhere goes in the lonely planet other businesses will just steal the name - we saw about a dozen fake Sinh Tourist cafe's in 1 day in Hanoi!).

Anyways the rest of the evening was uneventful, we went to the 1 decent place to eat and Terry ordered an omelette which was actually a hotpot of potatoes, sausage, green beans and 2 fried eggs

! We met a group of aussie teenagers who really helped us out by donating some unused Laos Kip and exchanging some Vietnamese dong for US dollars. Lifesavers! We had a nice chat with them too about travelling - they thought we'd just left uni which was sweet (and made us feel ancient! Incidentally T found his first grey beard hair this week!)
We got an early one ready for our 6.30am bus. We were told the journey takes about 6 hours so were looking forward to arriving at lunchtime ha!

We drove about 8km then stopped for an hour and a half waiting for various deliveries which were rammed into and on top of the bus. We must remember 'a bus is never full'.

Once going we were stamped out of Vietnam with no problem. The little room to get the stamp was busting full as all the locals just scrimmage to get to the window and push past you - it feels so unbritish not to form a que!

Back on the bus 10 mins later we arrive at Laos customs, we fill out a form for the visa and I'm fined $5 for not having a passport pic (but they didn't actually take one of me). We then had to pay $3 extra each in basically beer money for the immigration officers. One tried to explain it was for a health test, even though none was carried out, I asked him where his thermometer was and he just stared back blankly. I had read about the 'extra' fees, and even though it's annoying and will probably increase over the years it was a smooth border crossing and they even called out 'miss Lauren' when my passport was ready.

We then got back on the bus and bounced along for a few more hours, arriving in the tiny village of Muong Khua at about 2ish. We met a Swiss couple and an Australian man who had a guesthouse in mind and the owner came to meet the bus. He lead us across a very long rickety bridge which made me feel ill when I looked down but we had made it and were excited to finally be in Laos!

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