Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dog Eaters

During our nine hour long adventure to get through Vietnamese immigration, a big truck with at least over 1000 dogs drove over the border from Laos into Vietnam. I wasn't sure what was in the crates at first, but it sounded like screaming children, so I got closer to investigate.

This is the first time on this trip that my Western sensibilities were in complete contrast to the beliefs of my host nation. I was apalled.

But wait, I want to talk about our nine hour immigration fiasco.

It started off simple enough. Our Laos guide took us through the exit process in Laos while we all changed our Laos Kip into Vietnam Dong. Then we traveled the 200 meters through No Man's Land to get to the Vietnamese entrance.

That is where the fun began.

We got in line to pay our Health Quarantine Fee, then we x-rayed our bags. Then we had to go back to get our passports stamped.

The four Americans in our group had to produce IDs other than our passports. Thank God I brought one. I figured my passport would be enough. It took about 30 minutes of checking, rechecking, cross checking, and back checking and six of us had our passports stamped and ready to go.

Not Olivia.

They took one look at her passport, decided there wasn't enough room to stamp it, and handed it back to her with an uncerimonious, "No Entry."

I want to make this long, 9 hour story short. First they asked for a $10 "processing fee." Then they asked for a $100 "processing fee." Then $100 was returned. Then we called the Irish Embassy in Hanoi and Kuala Lumpar. We called Ireland. We called our hotel. The Embassy sent a letter asking to allow her into the country, but it was denied because it was in English.

Finally, after 8 hours of back and forth and getting nowhere we decided that Olivia had to go back to Laos. She was about to have her passport stamped letting her back into Laos when, you guessed it, the Vietnamese officials finally decided to let her in.

9 hours. OMFG.

Can I just say that between the puppy livestock and the immigration disaster that I don't have a very good first impression of Vietnam?

Oh well, at least we had a great last day in Laos.

Ian and I got up at 6 AM to watch the Sox game. We got through the seventh inning before we had to leave for our next destination, Thabak, a small village in the mountains of Laos.

It was a seven hour road trip from Vientiane to Thabak. About half way through we stopped to have lunch at a small road side cafe. We also stopped at a Mong market, where they were selling traditional crops and other foods, like endangered deep fried fruit bats.

When we arrived in Thabak we were taken on a sunset boat cruise. These boats weren't exactly the Jade Lady III.

Not that I'm complaining.
This is our Laos guide, Ky. We spent the night in a local family's house and Ky cooked us dinner and breakfast.


EJ said...

so can anyone do that to dogs, can't get over it

grooveman said...

I agree. Do they eat dogs in Saipan?