Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Crossing China/Laos Border

Mengla (pronounced Mongla) in China has been given a fairly bad review in Lonely Planet but the 3 hours i spent ambling around the area near the bus station were pretty enjoyable. This was despite having spent 15 sleepless hours on a "sleeper" bus from Kunming to Mengla. It was quite nice to see somewhere that looked small, at least for China, and where we seemed to be a novelty. I am sure many foreigners pass through Mengla on the way into Laos but there was little information as to how we could get from A to B even with the aid of a Austrailian-Chinese woman i had met on the coach. In the end, a small man on a bike who attempted to sell us US Dollars or Kip turned out to be very helpful. At first we thought he was leading us on for his own gain but we should have had more faith. It turns out other people i met along the way had been helped/hassled by the same chap, if you are ever in Mengla and approached by a small grey haired man who speaks excellent English don't be too quick to snub him.

Sometimes there is a direct bus, sometimes there is not. Talking about buses isn't too interesting though...

After a month spent in sprawling cities and urbanised, concrete towns i was plunged into a completely different world. The contrast between China and Laos was fairly breathtaking and i spent most of the bus ride attempting to avoid conversation and just take it in. The road was surrounded by rolling hills thick with forest or these would level out and lime green rice fields would take over, rolling on endlessly into the distance. This may be a fairly romanticised version of what i actually saw but somethings deserve to be treat in this way. Laos actually smelt different too, of nothing in particular but then again of something totally different to China, just a stones throw away

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