Part Of My Honeymoon To Thailand And Laos
Ok, I have been lurking on this site almost since inception and thought now would be as good a time to contribute as any. Here goes:
I got married to my long-time Laotian girl friend here in America in early 1996. I met my future wife in 1990 at University. We finally made the plunge to officially marry in early 1996. She is Laotian, her family emigrated here in 1980 after having escaped Laos in the night, and having lived for two years in a Thai refugee camp.
So much of what I read on this sight I find very humorous about life experiences, morals, thoughts and behavior of dating and marrying a Southeast Asian women. My wife was a teenager when she arrived, so there are strong Southeast Asian tendencies in all that she does. As an example, when were dating, and she was in her twenties already, she mentioned that if I intended on taking the relationship any further I would be discussing both a dowry and marriage with her folks! This is in America in the 90’s! Of course, being a quick thinker I mentioned that if I did not like the goods, I would get a prompt refund? Amazingly, only one of us found this funny!
Ok on with the story.
We decided that for our honeymoon we would visit Thailand and Laos and visit relatives and friends from her youth.
At that time there was a lot of nervousness about going to Laos, the media reports on the country were few and far between and the U.S. State department report was not exactly glowing. Lastly, the family was a little concerned for us because when they left the country there were disappearances, imprisonments and general bad things happening to people the government did not like. The family did have an uncle over there that they sponsored in America for a 6 month visit for him to make some dollars. He spoke some English, so while my wife is fluent in both Lao and Thai, having some back up for me and my horrible language skills was something I was looking forward to.
In another submission I will go over the Thailand part of our trip. After we spent about ten days in and around Bangkok with family and friends we headed over to the airport and on to Vientiane, Laos. We departed Thai Airways on a Boeing 737 with probably at least 120+ people on board. The mix of people on the airplane was interesting, dark short Asians (Lao) short lighter Asians (Thai) really tall very white westerners (Scandinavians, almost all part of NGOs), three or four drugged out looking backpackers that I assumed were making for the golden triangle and one mixed race couple (my wife and I).
After an uneventful hour and a half flight we landed at the Vientiane international airport. At that time the airport really resembled no more than an oversized barn. Stairs where rolled up to the back and front of the airplane. We sat near the back of the plane, so we deplaned from rear most exit. As we got out in to the Southeast Asian sun, I looked over a landscape with parts of planes sitting in the ditches bordering the runway along with some dubious looking Russian aircraft leaking fluids onto the tarmac.
We lined up with the other passengers and started to make our way double file to the terminal building. As we started to walk, a whistle was blown and their was some shouting. We looked in the direction of the whistle, to our left, and saw a man in a highly decorated uniform standing with soldiers carrying AK’s on either side of him. The soldier in the middle started to yell and everyone stopped. In very short order my wife mentioned that he was yelling for us. I of course asked if she was sure, maybe it was another mixed couple! He yelled again and she was sure it was for us. So, we walked the 50 or so yards to meet him. He asked for our paperwork which I knew was in order. We promptly handed over our passports, visa, and Lao Embassy stamped documents. While this was going on I noticed that everyone in line was now actively looking away from my wife and me.
One of the soldiers took our paperwork and double timed it into the terminal. By now there was a tractor with carts attached to it unloading the bags from the plane. We stood in front of the lead soldier in dead silence, slowly sweating in the outdoor sun really stressing out. As soon as the bags were unloaded, he again blew his whistle, the tractor and bags drove directly to us. Soldier number two gave his AK over to the main guy and we were told to identify our bags and soldier number two began hurling bags onto the ground in search of our luggage. Soon enough our two over stuffed bags were retrieved. Soldier number one was back out to assist with dragging our bags to a separate part of the terminal building.
As we stood there, my thoughts were as follows; oh shit, something was put in our bags in Thailand or was being put in our bags in the terminal for a “surprise” inspection “we are going to jail”, two, we had an open itinerary and no-one new our exact arrival date, damn we are boned “we are going to jail”, and then three I know the father worked for some American Company during the Vietnam war making runways out by the Vietnam boarder region I wonder if they somehow new that. “we are going under the jail”.
With the bags retrieved we followed the soldiers into a different area of the terminal separated by a glass wall/partition from where the other travelers were being processed into Laos. Again, it was painfully apparent that the other travelers were working hard to not notice us through the glass wall. Lots of staring at flip flops when I looked over in their direction.
After about 10 of the longer minutes of my life a man walked in with a black suit and black bowler type hat, with a stamp in his hand, soon followed by soldier number 3 with our paperwork. With little fanfare our paperwork was stamped and we were escorted outside to our awaiting bags already with our uncle and his trucks! He had paid for expedited service through the airport. Son of a bitch! Everyone was happy to see us, well probably not to see me, but my wife they remembered as a young lady and her family was well thought of and the overstuffed bags were 95% full of stuff for them.
The trucks were loaded and we were on our way to our quarters, everyone except me. I refused to get into the truck until it was agreed, by consensus of course after another 10 minutes that we would stop by the US embassy and register our whereabouts.
If there is any interest, I will relate more of the Lao and Thailand trip.
Nice tale! Look forward to hearing more of your adventures on that trip.