Hopelessly lost cat finally found its way back to Thaveesinh Hotel at ~10AM, long after its companions from the Pak Beng-Huay Xai boat had checked out & left for Chiang Khong.
Based on reports from other travellers it was expecting to have to pay an 'overtime fee' for crossing the border on a public holiday, but the two Lao immigration officers on duty just waved the cat through after collecting the immigration departure card & adding their bit of red ink to its passport. Making its way down the slope to the Mekong, no-idea-who called out to the cat & told it to hurry up & jump into a boat with 2 guys that was already pulling out to cross the river. In the middle of the Mekong...
Mr Passenger 1: yiam Thai leu yiam Lao? (visit Thailand or visit Laos?)
*scratch head* isn't this boat going to Thailand...?
Cat: yiam Lao laew bpai yiam Thai (visit Laos already go visit Thailand)
Mr Passengers 1 & 2: ?!
Mr Passengers 1: khon Thai leu khon Lao? (Thai person or Lao person?)
Cat explains that it is from Singkapor...
Turns out that Mr Passengers 1 & 2 were trying to figure out if it was a Thai visiting Laos or a Lao visiting Thailand - so why on earth was it saying that it's visiting BOTH? :P
Looking back at Huay Xai with the bell & drum tower of Wat Chom Khao among the trees:
Only at this point did the cat realise that there were sheltered boats - both times it had crossed on unsheltered ones. Mr Passengers 1 & 2 headed off to start another day of work operating the cross-river vehicle ferry, while the cat made its way to the Thai immigration:
20 baht + 1 chatty tuktuk driver + 1 more round of explaining that it isn't a Siamese cat (my ears, face & paws might be tanned from the sun but my tail is black not brown!) later, the cat was dropped off at a roadside fruit stall in Chiang Khong market. Madam Fruit Seller asked the cat where it was going & then yelled out no-idea-what to no-idea-who - apparently the bus to Chiangrai was about to leave & she was getting the driver to hang on so that the cat could jump on board through the back door - just like how it had scrambled onto the bus to Chiang Khong a fortnight earlier...& so within 20 minutes flat of stepping back on Thai soil the cat was waving goodbye to Chiang Khong:
1 police road block + 2 seat changes (to make way for monks) later the cat was back in Chiangrai city to meet the others at Baan Bua Guesthouse...