The other day I once more had to do a trip to Laos. This time however not the usual ‘get your stamp at the border, come back after the weekend and stay three more months in Thailand’ – no! This time I had to visit the Thai embassy in Vientiane in order to apply for a new Non B Visa (Non-Immigrant Visa). Since we had quite some troubles with the immigration office in Udon Thani (we refused to bribe them so they refused to extend my visa) two of my colleagues came with me in order to make sure everything goes well (and to report to our director immediately). The visa application wasn’t a problem at all so they already went home the same day. I will pick it up today though. The fun or disturbing things that make me write this post aren’t the strange immigration rules though. It’s the behavior of my colleagues here in Laos.
First I have to say that both colleagues are usually very nice and funny. I think they are nice people and always very helpful to me. But as soon as we passed the Laos border they changed. Completely. They came up with stereotypes and prejudices en masse and didn’t stop for single minute during our 16 hours together in Vientiane.
It all started with ‘Laos people always steal from us in Thailand’ and went over to ‘Laos people are bad people. All of them’. Crazy shit! It felt like I’m talking to some old war veteran from World War II. They complained about the way they drive, that they drive on the other side of the road (wtf? what is it there to complain?) and about the food. Without even tasting it! When the food was served they already said ‘ooooh this is not as good as in Thailand’ (Rice with Seafood. Come on….). Highlight then was when one ‘black’ (sorry if that’s political incorrect but I need to use this word now…) guy passed us. My colleague became totally weird and said ‘black people are bad people. They make me scared. I am really afraid. I think they will harm me. I can not walk around here’.
And you are a teacher? Seriously? If even teachers think this way…oh lord!
This wasn’t all of the complaints of course. It went on and on and on (the hotel wasn’t good enough or in Thailand it would have been much better for the same price, etc…).
Before letting this whole topic go and focusing on the nice things again I have to mention a last ‘highlight’. We had a local driver (rent him) who took us around with his van. We asked him for a hotel close to the embassy so he brought us to one. We checked in…ok. The next day we saw a second hotel that was even closer to the embassy and my colleague, once more, became angry. ‘Oooh he lied to us. He brought us to hotel number one. I bet he received some money from them….’ – NO? REALLY? OH MY GOD! And welcome to my world….that’s exactly how you are treated as tourist in Thailand as well. Only difference: In Laos even Thais are tourists…funny for me to see how they handle it – terribly!
My Thais….same same, but different. Expect us tourists to always reply their odd behavior with a smile but when they face it themselves they can’t handle it.
Needless to say that my colleagues went home WITHOUT any sightseeing in Vientiane. As soon as we finished the embassy thing they packed their bags and left. No need to see the beautiful sights of Vientiane….
– yes, I am quite aware that not everybody in Thailand acts this way. This is just the experience I made this time! I am quite sure there are also many many happy travelers amongst the Thai people :-)
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