We had headed to the Laos border with great excitement. Passport photos and money in hand, we were ready to buy our Lao visas. Usually its my passport that causes all the confusion so we were very suprised when it was Brad's that held us up. I had just gotten my Lao visa at the border when we handed over Brad's passport. The immigration official flipped thru it many times and finally looked up and said, "Sorry, there are no more pages in your passport." Whoops! Mr. Laid Back Brad didn't seem too worried though as he pointed to the back cover of the passport. I knew that this was not a valid page, its the same page the government uses to make ammendments to the passport, i.e. stating that the bearer is a Peace Corps Volunteer or that the bearer has officially changed her name. The immigration official also knew that that page was not valid for visas and suggested to Brad that we return to China. At this point I almost went into a mild hysteria, which grew increasingly as each official that was consulted shook his head no. The idea of going back into China and all the way to Bejing was not in our plans and would have been a very costly, both financially and time wise, detour. Not to mention that we had the small problem of having had our Chinese visas cancelled upon our departure from China. We were officially in no-man's land.
Brad sent me away to wait at the bus as I was not helping the situation. And good thing he sent me away too. The other passengers on the bus were getting antsy and were pushing the driver to leave us. And this border is one of those famous frontier borders that you don't want to get stuck at, just look at the picture. Finally the driver went and found Brad who had resolved his visa problem with a small "fee". The official had stamped Brad's visa over his Belize stamp.
Back at the bus Brad asked if I had actually officially entered Laos. And as it turns out, I hadn't. Since he had sent me away in tears I had just walked right past the entry port and the official guards to wait by the bus. Now it was my turn to go and enter. And yes, once again, the name on my passport confused the lady helping me. Fortunately the visa man, who spoke English, came to my assistance. After all this, I ran off without taking my departure card with me. So it remains to be seen if I'll have a problem getting out of Laos. I'm just so thankful that we got in in the first place!
p.s. The border picture was taken before the panic.
p.p.s. In case you're wondering, Bear Harbor picked up his adornments in Sapa, Vietnam courtesy of some hill children who took a liking to him.