A very long day starting at 6.30am of tuk tuks, buses and motorcycles. The first bus gave me time to improve my skills at killing mosquitos. I don't think Buddhism is for me because I get so much satisfaction in this. The best are those electric tennis rackets... tzsip! Had one stop when at least a dozen vendors filled the isle with various things on sticks. I think the 3 boiled eggs are a great idea! Regretted not buying the insects (legs still on) beautifully stabbed length-wise in a neat formation. Passed a storm of white butterflies which glorified a poor village. The drunk man next to me took great interest in reading the bios of the Lonely Planet authors.
My first impression at the border of Lao Bao was a dusty mess and everyone wore masks. I wondered if there had been a new SARS outbreak but I think it was for the construction and/or pollution. I then got to have several tours of the city driving back and forth wondering if our bus was actually headed for a destination. But I found a few minutes past the city, the country transformed into an entirely different land from Laos. Mountain ranges became higher in numbers and in height. The grass was greener and the slopes covered in luscious vines. It was a breathe of fresh air in scenery and in the people. Each border official man and masked money-exchanger woman said I was beautiful (hehe!). The girl next to me giggled at my Vietnamese pronounciations and I helped her with English. Her, along with a new passenger also took great interest in reading my popular Lonely Planet! Motorbike-guy in Hue was tough to bargain with but took great care to make sure I got to my guesthouse okay, and with a huge smile! So many other happy, smiling, friendly waiters and drivers within my first few hours. And the beef noodle soup came with a heap of lettuce, mint and other greens which was refreshingly healthy. I love Vietnam! P