I Barely Made it to Laos
I shouldn’t say I barely made it to Vientiane Laos but my lack of itinerary and organisation certainly didn’t help. I always thought of myself as a reasonably organized person, but I guess when you let your mom do everything for you, you’re used to everything working out seamlessly. Maybe that explains why I am such a bad cook.
The reason I say I ‘barely’ made it to Laos was because when I arrived at Pudong International Airport and was walking up to customs I realized that the only proof of my travels was my e-ticket archived away in my Gmail. As I am standing in line, fast approaching the customs officer, I scramble to get a Wi-Fi connection. My phone isn’t connecting and I can’t load my e-ticket.
“Next, please”. Shit! At this point I am starting to think the worst. I was once told by a wise man that the only thing worse than a 12 hour flight is a 24 hour flight with a 1 hour layover at Chinese customs. As I try to explain that I have a ticket but just can’t show you, I am really starting to panic. To make things worse the customs officer calls over her colleague and they begin talking in Mandarin. At this point I am not sure if they are talking about deporting me or letting me in. I could only hope for the latter.
After what feels like an hour, which was probably only 10 minutes, the customs official pulls out a scrap piece of paper and tells me to write out my flight information (airport, date, time). To really emphasize how unorganized I was, I didn’t even know my flight times so I made them up. I also didn’t know the airport code for Vientiane so I just wrote LAOS. After she inspected it, she asked me to sign it and stamped my passport. I was so shocked that this was how they remedied the situation, I had to restrain myself from saying “Really? That’s it?”. But I didn’t want to push my luck.
After this customs encounter in Shanghai, I had several other hiccups in transit that were largely my fault. This includes not having enough money for my Visa in Vientiane which resulted in me having to get a special escort out of the terminal to an ATM to withdraw more money.
Despite my less than pleasant experience flying through China, I am now happily sitting on the 4th story balcony of a guest house sipping a Beer Lao having consumed copious amounts of unknown fried things on skewers. Its a strange feeling to have finally arrived at the destination you have been thinking/talking about for so long. Although it has only been a couple of days since my departure from Vancouver, I have already learned a lot and I am excited for what is ahead.