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Tuesday, 24 April 2007

I leave Vientiane, Laos to return to Saigon, Vietnam

There are times when I rather like the French. I went along to their embassy. I met the fellow whose name had been given to me by my hotel owner and explained the situation. Why in the world he would want to give me a character reference for the Vietnamese authorities I don't know but he did. I then went to the Vietnamese Embassy and got a new three month visa for Vietnam. Why they should accept a letter from the French Embassy I didn't know either. The British really did irritate me at times.
When I had been stuck in Cuba years before I had gone along to the embassy for help. I had been running out of money, impossible to get any cabled in, I couldn't get a flight out, I was getting very hungry, had an abscessed tooth which had started to poison me and had gone from zero cigarettes per day up to sixty. The British Embassy advised me to water ski back to the Bahamas. Later that made rather nice headlines in the local Nassau newspaper but did not exactly help at the time.
I had wanted to go up to Luan Prabang, an American offerering to fly me up. I was a little short of money and anyway didn't really like trusting myself to strange pilots and aircraft over that country so I decided to return to Saigon.
The return flight had some trouble taking off as an engine kept on cutting out. After a couple of hours and three attempts we eventually got airborne but the engine packed up again and we had to put down in some town in southern Laos that I forget the name of. There we were fed until the problem was solved and we made it back to Saigon. I actually have fond memories of Royal Air Laos. Perhaps not the most efficient but very friendly.

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