Gary is currently in Appleton, WI (May 15th, 2015)

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A Fist Full of Kip

My last day in Luang Prabang was interesting. They power went out over the whole city. It seemed like a planned affair as there were signs ups notifying people when it was going off and on. It was down from 6:30am to 6:30pm. That meant all the ATM machines weren’t working and there was obviously no internet access anywhere.

When the power came on, there was a flood of people at the only working ATM machine in town. The largest denomination note I’ve seen in Laos is 50,000 Kip, which is about $5. The place I was staying it didn’t have their credit card machine working, so I had to pay in cash, and the ATM machines only dispense 700,000 Kip at a time. That means I had to hit the ATM more than once to pay my bill and had a gigantic wad of 50,000 Kip notes.

Yesterday I got up early to take the bus to Vientiane. It was supposed to be an 8 hour trip, but wound up being a 12 hour trip due to 3 bus break downs. I don’t know if there was a single stretch of straight level road during the entire trip. The whole way is mountainous and winding. That being said, the scenery was absolutely breath taking. I regretted being in a moving bus with dirty, tinted windows because it didn’t allow for any photography. I wish I had been in a car so we could pull over. I could have easily filled a memory card with photos of the mountains and valleys I saw.

I haven’t seen much of Vientaine yet. I’ll be here for a few days catching up on my photos, getting my laundry done and getting a haircut. I also have a video I made in Luang Prabang I’ll try to get up soon.

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  1. It was even worse before they came out with the 50,000 kip bill a year or two ago. 20,000 was the largest. I felt so conspicuous leaving the bank with a plastic bag full of money.

    Check out my city guide at

  2. DrManette says:

    Seems like these bus rides are always a blast haha

  3. Lisa E Davis says:


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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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