So border crossing, not bad at all. Same as anywhere. I did cross at very remote point which all guide books say is closed to tourists so was very quiet and straight forward (no drugs here). The bus from Dien Bien Phu only went as far as a place called Muang Khoa (40km into Laos) so had to cross a river, then get a tuk tuk and finally a bus to town called Muang Xay (where I spent the night). The most annoying thing was I had no Laos money (Kip) and they didn't accept Vietnamese Dong (obviously) so had to rely on the kindness of 2 Spanish ladies and 1 Danish girl for cookies, crackers and a loan of Kip until we got to Muang Xay because due to the remoteness of the border crossing, there was no ATMs till then. Hooray for the kindness of travellers.
So this morning (along with the 2 Spanish ladies - I say "ladies" because they're over 30) came North-East to a place called Luang Nam Tha. The journey was only 4 hours but one thing i've known about Laos is it's a long bus ride between most places (sometimes a day) so 4 hours was nothing. Does take more than a few days out of your itinerary though just in transport, not good when you only have 2 weeks - it's a big country and I dont think i'll make it South. Anyway, Luang Nam Tha, a town in the mountains and a hub for trekking the remote villages - the reason it's become such a popular spot. Tomorrow im doing a 2 day trek to a village called Nam La where you stay overnight with a minority family so should be fun. Luang Nam Tha itself is literally just one road lined with a few guesthouses and shops so if you're not trekking you're not doing anything.
Everyone says (guidebook included - which I dont have) that Laos people are very chilled out - hello my new favourite country - but as of yet I haven't really experienced it. To be honest it still feels like im in Vietnam because of the mountain surroundings (i.e. Sa Pa) but everyone so far has been really friendly. I would say less smiley & wavey than the other 3 countries but im making that judgement with not much evidence.
After Luang Nam Tha im heading South to a place called Luang Prabang, an apparently beautiful town with a very impressive waterfall. Im interested because I have seen a million waterfalls. We post again on... Wednesday? (wtf day is it?) so there you go, something to look forward to. Im off to be given many a strange look but it's all normal to me now. Bye X