Sun sinks behind distant mountains.
Takes along with it plans of fellow passengers to cross border to somewhere more happening for New Year countdown.
Not sure if anyone's on last day of his/her Lao visa?
~15 more days of visa-free entry left for the cat, no worries :)
Last bit of journey in pitch black darkness - save for occasional light on west bank of Mekong (Thai side).
Worried boat captain appears to rely on memory & not much else apart from luck to navigate 'blind' + steer boat clear of big fat rocks.
At last, equally worried boat crew spots Huay Xai slowboat landing.
Tricky for boat to dock - rely on Maglite to hop across a few boats to reach shore.
All walk together down main road in search of accommodation.
Mrs Thaveensinh Hotel tells Mr German no cheaper single rooms left.
Assigns him more expensive room with TV, then tells cat in Thai that she has cheaper single room (no TV) for it?!
Note to self - in future ask falangs to stay outside while cat goes in first to get rooms for all at cat prices.
All meet at restaurant by the Mekong.
American cyclists + Mr German + Mr & Mrs Falang-Thai + few other falangs + one cat.
37,000kip (~SGD6) for fish + rice + juice = cat's most expensive meal in Laos.
Mr Australian only too happy to help the cat finish what it can't.
Others who ordered western food express similar interest in tasting catfood :P
Good dinner conversation amid WORST-ever live
Falangs suggest paying the band to shut up :P
American cyclists shocked to find out that cat's colleagues work on stem cells.
American cyclists comment on Bush administration's restriction on stem cell research, & hopes for those with CNS injury.
Khom loy hot air lanterns rise into the sky above Chiang Khong.
Expecting fireworks too, but none.
Mobile phone of American cyclist who works in Bangkok keeps beeping.
Text messages flood in - where are you now??
More text messages - bomb explosions in Bangkok - where are you now??
Sudden relief at being stranded in Huay Xai, for those who'd wanted to cross the border earlier.
Next morning in Thailand the cat would learn that New Year Eve countdown celebrations were cancelled/toned down as a result.
& one of the bombs hit Saphan Khwai intersection.
& one of the Thai victims had the same first name (momentary freak out) as the cat's kor who lives in Saphan Khwai.
Walk back to locked-up Thaveensinh Hotel - way past curfew time.
Falangs bang on grille gates till Mrs Thaveensinh Hotel wakes up.
Son of Mrs Thaveesinh Hotels appears clad in only a towel to let everyone in.
end of day 15 (311206):
noodle soup/pho/feu/khaaw soi eaten to date = 10 bowls