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Back to English-Speaking Lands (+Australia)

Lao Bus Station, originally uploaded by Mister Wind-Up Bird.

So once again, a Laotian journey is cut short by unexpected events. Though last time it was due to a dark-alley fracas in Luang Prabang, this time it’s due to much happier circumstances.

After spending three days at the spectacular Rai Saeng Arun farm/resort on the Thai side of the Mekong river, we hired a songthiew to take us to the Thai-Laos border crossing at Chiang Khong, hopped aboard a fishtail boat acting as a ferry across the Mighty Mekong and entered Laos. A four-hour bus ride down winding mountain roads was directed by a driver who apparently learned to drive the rickety Chinese bus by watching motorcycle racing videos. He actually had an assistant who handled the constant gear changes so he could keep both hands on the steering wheel. It was nerve-wracking, but we made it.

Which is good, for not only the numerous obvious reasons, but also for the email waiting for us when we were able to connect in Luang Namtha. We were on the guesthouse verandah chatting with some Germans who had been on the bus with us when Janelle looked up wide-eyed from her iPod Touch. “Passport request!” She couldn’t believe it. I wondered what the big deal was. Surely this was just another of the series of interminable steps in processing her immigration application.

But no, this was actually the last of the interminable steps! And really shockingly fast, too. Instead of our expected issuing date around August, we now have less than two weeks to get J’s passport to the Sydney office. So that means that instead of crossing the northern border into China tomorrow as planned, we will be headed back the way we came, overland through northern Thailand to make a flight from Bangkok to the Gold Coast in a few days. We’re going to Australia! Soon! And then my wife will be joining me in Canada!

We’ll spend a little time in Australia to do the immigration stuff, pack up Jan’s gear and send it to Canada, and then we will be returning to Vancouver, a more travelled, more married, more legally-permitted-to-live-in-Canada couple.