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Always carry backup cash, especially in Lao where there is only one cash machine (in Vientiane) and the banks close early. . .
After a rather interesting and tiresome journey, I came eventually on a Friday morning to the town of Pakse in southern Lao. I met a few other travellers on the bus and they were heading for the 4000 Islands in the southern reaches of the mighty Mekong river. Well, apparently there was not a lot to do in Pakse, so I decided to follow.I bought a bus ticket with most of what money I had left. I was informed by stromectol 12mg pills $144.00 the driver that they would be leaving at 8:30am. The bank across the road also opened at 8:30am. The driver said they would wait while I try to obtain cash from the bank. It was a long weekend coming, so this would be my last chance to "cash up" before the 4000 Islands, or anywhere for that matter. So, extremely travel wary, I ran across the road and whipped out my trusty credit card. "$100US please!" and as the lady went off to the side and did something with my card, I found myself daydreaming of the bed I would surely fall into sometime in the next few hours. . . The teller returned with my card and informed me that it was not working. Obviously she was doing something wrong, so I asked her to try again. Nope, it was the same result as I heard the bus tooting impatiently across the road. I ran back to the bus and hurriedly told the annoyed looking driver and passengers, sweating in the morning heat that I had to try the other bank up the road. As you can probably guess, it was of no avail. There was nothing else for it, other than to board the bus and hope for the best. For the next two hours I sat squashed into the bus/oven in uncomfortable trepidation, talking to my mother via sms to see if she could contact the bank and get to the bottom of the card debarcle. I had forgotten to make a payment and the card had been suspended. My dear mother (where would I be without her?) somehow managed to convince them to re-activate my card. It would be useable again at midnight. I met a fellow traveller on the bus who informed me that there was in fact a bank on Khong Island, and I could possibly sort something out with them. I little more research showed that they do not do credit card transactions, or money transfers, nor do they speak english. My situation now, regardless of anything else, was that I had 1000kip (10 cents) to last me an entire long weekend. I had no money for a bed, nor did I have any money to return to Pakse. The situation was not looking favourable to say the least. I booked into the cheapest guest house I could find (only $3 per night), not knowing how I was going to pay in the morning. What the hell, I was trashed. I would just have to sleep on it. The fan went on and I was out like a light for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, when I awoke, my problem hadn't magically solved itself. I went for a walk around the village. There was some sort of festival on stromectol 12mg pills $144.00, stalls everywhere, a live concert blaring out the kind of music tailored for Karaoke that South East Asians seem to hold so dear. Very few tourists, just drunk locals and teenagers walking around with machine guns for no apparent reason. Stromectol 12mg pills $144.00 the people here in the south of lao have a different and somewhat sinister way about them. I don't know, perhaps it was just my situation tainting my outlook. Despite all this, I was not looking forward to starving for 3 days at least, in the face of all this fantastic smelling food surrounding me. I wandered away from all the machine gun toting kids and drunken revellers and decided to check on a few guest houses to see if anyone had credit card facilities. Of course I knew this was pointless. Nobody has credit card facilities in this country. I came to a guest house and spoke to the owner in broken french about my predicament. In wandered a Belgian couple who I had met a week or two earlier on a slow boat down the Mekong. They were kind and the next thing I knew, I had $15US in my hand. I arranged to meet them in the morning and accompany them back to Pakse. Off I went, directly to the nearest source of food and ate like it was my last meal on earth. A beer with a Dutch fellow I met on the street, then off to the guest house and to bed. At 8am I met the Belgians and an English couple, we all piled into the tuk tuk and off we went. Across on a ferry followed by trucks carrying chickens in baskets, and all manner of things. Finally arrived in Pakse, after the tuk tuk driver pulled a fast one on us and we ended up paying more than he quoted. Of course wandering around in the heat looking for places with credit card facilities was fruitless. Besides, it was a saturday, so no banks open either. The Belgians were on their way to Thailand. I wanted to go to Cambodia. In the end though, I was quite fed up. I decided to follow the Belgians straight to Thailand. They were very generous and told me not to worry about the money, but there was no point in me staying, I needed money and I wanted to pay them back, so off we went. An hour or two later, we were walking in the heat across the border and going through passport control on both sides. Sure enough, right there in front [stromectol 12mg pills $144.00] of us, not even 100 metres from the borderline, was a cash machine. Oh the wonderful convenience of Thailand! Everything is so much easier there. Even a police car stopped and an officer helped us with our choice of tuk tuk to take us further to the next town. Always carry extra cash!! Otherwise, a nice leisurely trip can become a complete pain in the arse. I'm glad I had the experience though, and through all this, ended up with two new wonderful friends in Belgium. A shitty situation not so shitty after all.