Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Musings on the local economy of Amphoe Muang, ChiangRai

This morning I visited friends who’ve opened a yoga teaching shop-front in what was called Ban Du Muang Mai, just east of NamTong Road, where there are “Walking Street” open-air market activities on Sunday and Tuesday evenings. I asked about the empty area east of the end of their street (the street directly across from that of Chiangrai Rajapat University Gate #1). They said that that area will become an Old-Folks home for Japanese, and part of the proposed expressway from China, now already somewhat in operation.
This led to discussion of our real-estate bubble. Not 3 years ago, my wife and I bought 3.5 rai of land for 1.36 million baht. Now land prices in Amphoe Muang are a minimum of a million baht per rai. So my wife wants to buy more land. I’d just as soon buy gold.
OK - land prices tend to rise, but haven’t they gone down recently, in lots of places? Aren’t the economic “fundamentals” of lots of places coming heavily into question? Is business with China really going to flow, even flood, through here?
#1 - Chinese products are cheap in two ways, price and quality. I, personally, don’t want most of them anymore, and I’m hardly alone in that.
#2 - with Myanmar opening up, vehicular traffic through from MaeSot to India becomes a real possibility.
#3 - this immediate area is flush with money right now, but much of it is casino, drug and prostitution related, and there’s good reason to question whether that can last.
#4 - the Old-Age Home idea is a good one, except that there are problems with the quality of help available. A decade ago, some Japanese Yakusa wanted to build one, but then backed off.
#5 - MuBan Omsin, and the housing projects by the 2nd MaeSai bridge remain largely empty, so why expect that all these new tiny dwellings are going to turn a profit?
#6 - the US may well import much less from China soon, hurting the Chinese economy, most of which is on its eastern seaboard anyway. Yunnan isn’t very industrial, and with gas prices rising, trucking all the way here isn’t going to be competitive with shipping. Going across Laos involves a variety of complications, including bureaucratic, logistic and infrastructure ones (the hard-top currently needs re-surfacing yearly, and when trucks break down, the road can get blocked, among other things).
Maybe money from Bangkok will continue to flow to here, or maybe they’ll finally admit to the necessity of moving government somewhere else, and that money will change in destination to wherever that will be. And another year of devastating flooding is hardly going to help the Thai economy!
Just thought I’d say…

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Karen pole dancers and other shots from Colors


Lahu dancers and drummers:


Locals in "chut-parjam-pao" (Palaung or Paduang, not sure):

Ongsasin Rhythm, from Central Thailand:

Chianghai World Colors 750 years

Just back from the World Colors @ Chiangrai thingy where the hilltribe houses from the Flower Festival still are. Long-time resident of Thailand, singer Todd Tongdee Lavelle, originally from Scranton, PA USA, was MC - he's been on many a Thai stage for well over 2 decades, speaks Thai quite well. Sunday the 26th is the last day, with School Shows starting at 6 pm, Ongsasin Rhythm at 7 then Hmong Superstar, World Colors of Lahu, Dara-ang, PuTai and Kamu... Punjabi Academy dance troop from India, and lastly, at 10:30 a Farewell Jam.
In all, nicely weird, with a tiny yurt, a teepee made of crepe or something, a Thai on digereedoo, a Lakota hoop dancer/flutist who's accent was quite White by me... some interesting write-ups (including about Lanna trade with Mongolia - I'd LOVE to see evidence of THAT!!!), and lots of food, handicrafts and drinks. Oh, and Karen kids were doing a neat dance between moving bamboo poles. Plenty of parking, all free.

couldn't get a photo of the Karen kids on here. will post again...

Kevin Locke, Lakota

something I'd love to see evidence of

children of the yellow leaves (OK, not exactly Mlabri, as from South Thailand, but physically similar)



Monday, February 20, 2012

Linguistic Evolution, and a few words on things to come

The Summer Institute of Linguistics and the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) have done extensive translating work, to convey the Word of God (as they see it). Summer Institute’s first president, Kenneth L. Pike (served 1942-1979), developed a system of linguistic analysis in the 1950s and applied it to the description of a very large number of hitherto unrecorded languages, and the Mormons have done an incredible job training young missionaries in a huge variety of languages.
Encyclopedia Britannica explains about the method: “Tagmemics differs from alternative systems of grammatical analysis in that it defines the basic units of language (tagmemes) as composite elements, one part being the “slot,” or ‘function,’ and the other the ‘filler,’ or ‘class.’ For example, one such tagmeme, at the syntactic level of analysis, might be the noun-as-subject (in which the noun is a class that ‘fills’ the subject ‘slot’ in a construction).”
What interests me here is the concept of word, or basic unit of language. Like number, it may be a concept of quite more limited viable applicability in the real world than is commonly acknowledged. When teaching, as I occasionally do, I find things hardly so cut and dried. My young sister-without-law fails to grasp the concept, similarly as she fails to grasp the sounds of English language. She’s not trying to be difficult or lazy – the correspondences we, who grew up in Western society, so easily assume, simply do not really exist. For her, and for many others.
In one place, a letter, in English or any other language, will have one sound, in another, another. In one place, a ‘word’ will appear in one way, in another, another. Syllables, parts of speech, suffixes, prefixes - it’s simply not the same in all languages. In all, parts make greater wholes, and there may be something like sentences, even paragraphs, but I well remember a guy trying to get the message of his Indian guru put into written Thai, demanding that the Thai words be separated. It simply couldn’t be done!

We like a sense of unity, indivisibility - but, where in the perceptible world does it actually, unequivocally exist? It doesn’t. No atom, nor indivisible particle. No unarguably distinct boundaries. No absolute correspondence between map and thing mapped… though certainly some alphabets suit some languages better than others.
The Bible (pra-kam-phii in Thai, meaning respectable or revered word of scripture; profound treatise) will surely deliver a more than slightly altered message in different languages (which are always variant ways of looking at things). Not to denigrate faith, work on translation which helps people to communicate, or teaching in general, do I present this quandary, but to analyze, rather, what we do when we assert ourselves. We certainly sometimes anticipate, or desire, responses different than results we actually incur. This is normal.
We find it easy to assume that things actually are as we see them, and so, that others can discover the same truth we try to act upon. But systems apply only within contexts - as Russians found in trying to bring communism to Mongolia, and the USA is beginning to find trying to bring ‘democracy’ to the Mid-East. Mongolia had no ‘oppressed’ proletariat, and Persians and Arabs might even see leadership more accurately than do hapless citizens of the USA, in bondage to advertising.
An Akha tribe friend once invited me to her house for Christmas festivities. On the TV was a show of Bible stories, set, naturally, in a desert. I saw no correspondence between what was presented on the screen and life in the ‘Christian’ village around me. On the other hand, I did notice there, as I had noticed long before in Korea, a distinct correspondence between acquiescence to ‘membership’ and ‘belief’ and access to otherwise unavailable material ‘goods’!
Matthew McDaniel of Akha Heritage Foundation wrote at www.akha.org that “There is Youth With a Mission, New Tribes Mission, and a host of others, all hidden from the eye, unless you have done years of research, a huge mission picture, millions of dollars in trucks, compounds, salaries, budgets, but the villages are dying without representation and without a penny. They have no rights and the people are being destroyed and the missions are helping it be done.” His comments on Paul W. Lewis, Bill and Gordon Young (the “Young Dynasty” - were they all CIA, as has been claimed?), the Meese and Morse families, Rose Martinez, and Dr. Edwin McDaniel, who Matthew McDaniel (any relation?) says helped Dr. Paul Lewis (author with wife Elaine of the wonderful “Peoples of the Golden Triangle” - and many years ago retired to Claremont, California) sterilize more than 20,000 Akha women in Burma’s Eastern Shan State… seem pretty derogatory, but with some strong base in truth. He wrote, “witnesses are afraid to speak out against Paul Lewis publicly, stating that he is a very powerful man and that they fear people who continue to get money under the table from his Baptist related organizations will retaliate against them.” Dr. Lewis, though, claims, “I helped between 300 and 350 Akha women from Burma receive an operation they greatly wanted and needed. They were most anxious to have the operation because they could not take care of the children they already had.” Also, “For over 40 years I gave my life and talent to help these people in every way possible, but I always worked WITH them, and sought to turn over all aspects of the work to them as quickly as possible. In regard to the family planning program, I turned all of that over to the Thai Government at the end of our seven and a half years of service.” Anonymous Akhas reportedly replied, “They killed the best of our people… accepted it like a fish which sees the bait but not the hook.” And, “The book called ‘People of the Golden Triangle’ which has sold thousands of books in many languages must have made him some name and some money. Does he deny he made great name off us, but lives safely while we still die?” And certainly, during Taksin Chinawat’s (spelled Shinawatra in the papers) “drug war” many did die - at least one in each and every northern tribal village.
According to a North Thailand mission (EDEN Center - Serving God’s People through Evangelism, Development, Education and Nurture) website, after the 1949 Communist victory in China, the Morse family “had to evacuate all personnel from their stations. J. Russell Morse fell into the hands of the Communists and was imprisoned in solitary confinement for 15 months. The mission forced to flee in North Burma. “The years between 1950-1965 saw the work firmly established in North Burma. During the early 1950s, the mission helped settle over 20,000 Lisu and Rawang Christians onto the Putao plains. Over 30 model villages were established in the process, all of them interconnected with excellent roads and bridges.
“Swamps were drained off to fight malaria-infested mosquitoes while new land was opened up for agriculture. Citrus trees from North America were brought in and grafted onto native lemon stock which resulted in significantly improving the health of the population. Schools were started to provide education for the children of the first generation of Christians. In many respects, this period in the history of the mission was the most productive and rewarding.
“Between 1966-1972, the mission was… forced to pull up stakes and move out of its field of ministry… The mission was ordered to leave the country by midnight December 31, 1965. When it became apparent that the mission was not going to be able to meet the deadline, the group made the decision to walk out overland to India.
“This began a seven year wilderness experience as the mission became completely cut off from the outside world. Jungle survival was the new name of the game as the Morses and thousands of native Christians struggled to live off the land. The group eventually carved out self contained villages in the wilds, where community life was allowed to be guided by Christian principles.
“A real sense of peace and harmony prevailed throughout this new community until the Burmese government stumbled across the lost villages in early 1972. The missionaries were rounded up and removed to lower Burma. The Morses now became guests of the military government and spent the next three months at the Mandalay Central Prison before they were allowed to leave the country.” The site claims most of the villages in the Hidden Valley area have now reverted back to jungle, but citrus trees planted by J. Russell Morse, which once eased local malnutrition, still thrive.
“Since 1973, the mission has been based in Thailand. In Thailand… concentrated primarily on establishing churches among the Lisu, Lahu and Akha hill people. The mission is involved in a broad range of ministries that include church planting, village development work, Bible translation and literacy work, Christian literature production, promoting preventive health and sanitation, introducing alternative crops and agricultural techniques, children’s education, and leadership training.”
See: Eugene Morse, “Exodus To A Hidden Valley” (Cleveland: William Collins Publishing Co., 1974); Gertrude Morse, “The Dogs May Bark…But The Caravan Moves On” (Joplin: College Press, 1998) and Mischa Berlinski, “Fieldwork” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007).

Progress (in Thai, khwam-khao-na, stepping forward, or jalern, to grow, prosper, thrive, advance, increase, and thus, also, jarern-khao-na…), or, if you prefer, development (kan-pattana, advancement), may be less valuable concepts than adaptation (gan-prap-tua, especially about sapap-wetlom, the state of the environment). Adapting to circumstances may not get one closer to any goal, other than extending life’s goodness. And life’s goodness isn’t about possessing, or winning, or even achieving, but about interacting pleasantly, sharing good moods, absorbing delicious nutrition and enjoying pleasant rest. Things, and entertainment, don’t teach a child to interact pleasantly; guidance by the well-adapted does. Rich kids are often desperately hungry - sullen, angry, demanding and arrogant. That’s not happy. Nor can teaching through words make them so; only by example can they learn the satisfactions of giving, sharing, and being part of something greater than the illusory self.
The Morse family, to live in the jungle, must have had something to share other than words from a book. And that kind of faith is good. Missionaries may usually cause more damage than good – that depends on how one looks at things. But the temptations of the modern were going to arrive and be there, missionaries or no… and few have proven readily able to adapt to their temptations! By living so much higher than those they preach to, the worse missionaries may even have provided an exceptionally instructive example… Certainly not all affected by them have become greedy!

I posted the above on thaivisa.com’s Chiangrai Forum years ago, and found the responses unpleasant and discouraging, to say the least. I’d been impressed with bucolic, almost idyllic Swiss Family Robinson-like tales of Hidden Valley resistance to Regime Oppression and other adversities, and had hoped to elicit some discussion and maybe even new info and insights. That came to naught, but as we approach a new invasion of Burma, by global corps bent on the kind of wholesale exploitation of mineral wealth hard not to labile “rapine’, I decided to re-post it with some new comments.
I’ve met many a citizen of Myanmar with extremely positive memories of American missionaries, of American help with railways, roads, WWII, and other forms of generosity more controversial. But the extent of something related to Post Traumatic Shock Disorder which pervades everything there prevents those niceties from carrying much real meaning. In Bangladesh, Pakistan, a lot of India (especially Kashmir), much of Africa and many places elsewhere the results of violent hatreds, extended cycles of revenge, childhoods dominated by automatic weapons, and pervasive feelings of need to seek escapist solace make for a need for community and emotional support mechanisms which infrastructure, consumerism and “democracy” can never sufficiently foster. Wounds take time to heal, and often do so better in a fairly rigid, well-structured environment. A headlong rush into the strictures of corporate materialism, modern jobs, debt, celebrity envy and insidious propagandistic advertising promotions (in Yangon, over 15 years ago, I saw TV ads for heated toilet seats with automatically dispensed sanitary-paper coverings, along with others for gaudy gold jewelry) can not in any way assist in the healing necessary for a non-violent, non-drug-addicted civil society to ensue. I can’t say exactly what IS needed, but am sure that local self-determination MUST be part of it.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Biggest Tree in ChiangRai?

My wife said it is, but she was just trying to get me interested. I didn’t find out what kind it is, besides “giant” (yak, yaksa – ยักษ์ ). But it’s big enough to be interesting, and in an interesting area with lots of tribal villages, terraced rice paddies, river views, hot springs, waterfalls, shrines and hill-top temples. Much of that is covered at www.chiangraiprovince.com/guide, recommended at guest houses, and so easy to find that quite a good number of tourists here do.
Big on the backpacker hit-list are Doi Klong Khai Rice-box Hill, Huay Mak Liam Hotsprings and the suspension motorcycle bridge, all in the area. Not so well-known is the huge tree. It’s even an easy bike ride out – only 14 km. from the Den Ha intersection where SanKhong Noi and RatchYotha cross. 7.2 km. from Don’s Café, with Western food from noon on. At a large picture of the King under a red corrugated roof, with two red pillars to the front, turn left: there are blue signs to the “Ton Ngoon” and Huai Kaeo Waterfall on botyh sides of the road just south of the Kok river (following along it from not far past Hang Dong). Start watching after the tree (with tree shrine) in the middle of the road, it’s about 1.5 km. past that, at Ban Huai Pu Patana.
The tree, I’m guessing, is at least 150 feet tall, 30 foot wide at the base, and when the trunk becomes round, it’s circumference might be 18 feet.
Although most trees here have some leaves in February, this one won’t until maybe May. But that means you can see the many huge bee hives attached to branches. The Ruesi hermit statue between trunk ridges is also pretty cool, especially as there’s a clay water-pot with wood nam-boui dipper by it, in old traditional fashion. Quite nearby is a Karen village (Mu 8) with lots of black pigs, a mountain stream and lots of hints as to what life around here used to be like before things got so accessible.



Southeast Asia has several folk beliefs about what a woman should do after giving birth; here’s one from Chiangrai’s hill people:
Sometimes after giving birth, a woman will become “pit duan” - thin and weak with yellow, itchy skin. To avoid this condition, a restricted diet is recommended: no beef, pork or regular chicken, only Kai Dam black chicken. Some kinds of fruit, vegetables and fish are OK, others not. Some chickens have all black meat and black bones, some have white bones and meat (like KFC or 5 Star), and there are gradations in between. Kai Dam is good, Kai Khao (white) OK, but yellow meat is regarded as distinctly bad. It makes new mothers weak, and to avoid that, many people are glad to pay extra (i.e. B150 as opposed to B120 per kilo) for the black meat on black bones, preferably from free-range chickens. That is thought best, for at least a month!
In fact, Gai Dam do have better protein, more amino acids, less fat and cholesterol, and other health benefits.

Another chicken belief involves the Kai Khon Fu, fluffy, kinda scary-looking chicken (see photo). Raise that kind, and ghosts won’t bother you, won’t enter your house. Especially if someone has died there, this is seen as important. The fluffy feathers somehow close the door to the spirit’s return. Without the guardian chicken, the ghost might enter the body of some animal, and wreak who knows what havoc…

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A new travel opportunity

There is now bus service from ChiangRai to LuangPrabang Laos – only B950, leaving daily at 1 p.m.! One is even given enough time to arrange a “visa on arrival” (good for two weeks) at the border.
On 19 Jan. 2012, bus service began from from ChiangMai to LuangPrabang began, reportedly leaving CM daily at 1 p.m, routing through ChiangRai. By the 23rd, the price was said to have dropped from B950 to B735. When I asked about that at the bus station, however, they disclaimed any knowledge about it.
From Chiang Rai the 2nd class, air-conditioned, 44 seat bus goes to Chiang Khong. Before this service opened, one had to make separate arrangements to the border, and once over the border you could get a Lao bus north to LuangNamTha, then on to UdomXai and LuangPrabang; this sometimes took three days.
Now the “999” bus office in ChiangKhong allows passengers holding tickets by 3:00 p.m. to be taken by tuk-tuk to Thai Immigration, ferried across the Mekong, and then, once again by tuk-tuk, taken on to the bus station a few kilometers out, for 5 p.m. departure. The ferry and tuk-tuk both sides are included in the price (whether B950 or B735). The ChiangKhong “Boh-Koh-Soh 999” bus station office is scheduled to be to be open from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. I didn’t check the new Amphoe ChiangRai station hours, but they are at least that.
Total distance by road ChiangRai to LuangPrabang 610km. It’s over 200 km. from HuayXai to the Chinese border, which this route almost reaches (just over 190 km to LuangNamTha). About 80% of the road is good, but it’s often narrow; HuayXai to Boten (at the China border) is wide and being upgraded. It’s believed that this will become an active highway, but that remains to be seen.
On the internet I found mention of a VIP bus, but again, the agents at the ChiangRai central bus station disclaimed any knowledge. They did say that the trip takes 12 to 13 hours; on the Net the VIP Bus is reported as 12 -15 hours, and the 2nd class bus as taking 18 hours, which would have one arriving in LuangPrabang at a more reasonable hour. Should one arrive an hour after midnight, prior arrangements for accommodations would be a good thing indeed! The Lao VIP bus might be something which can be arranged in ChiangRai at the new bus station, as claimed on www.thaivisa.com Chiangrai forum, but perhaps only at the tour agency offices. One report of the VIP bus mentions only 25 seats, but no aircon, no reclining seats, no service, and not enough seats for everybody. It was “very noisy, dirty, cold and we could only sit straight. There was 1 stop of 15 minutes, and a very short toilet stop. The total trip took more than 12 hours. Our clothes and personal belongings got very dirty and many people were coughing or having problems to breathe. Even though we were very tired, we could not sleep, since probably due to the bad suspension of the bus we were shaken in all directions, and several times and had to hold on to the chair in front”…
Plans to construct a bridge from ChiangKhong to HuayXai by late 1997 were derailed by the economic crash but it should be completed soon, perhaps this year. On one’s own, you present your passport at Thai Immigration by the river (open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.); they put an exit stamp in, give you a white departure card and then take your picture (normally done in about five minutes). You walk twenty meters to the river and take a small ferry boat across to the Laos Immigration, directly across the river: B30 for you and B10 for your baggage. This also takes about five minutes.
At HuaiXai one can get a Visa on Arrival, usually for US$35 (or B1500; the visa cost ranges between $30-$42 US, depending on your nationality. For Swiss, Japanese and South Koreans it’s free. The cost in Euros tends to be the same as the dollar cost, with Lao authorities ignoring exchange rate differentials). It’s a dollar extra on weekends. You only need to complete their form, and present one passport-size picture (or a photocopy of your passport information page) with your passport. There are money changers on the Thai side, so you don’t need to pay in baht (which can save you a reasonable bit). The Laos Visa on Arrival is Single Entry.
Upon exiting Laos Immigration, one can catch a tuk-tuk out to where the bus station is, 7 km south of town, and catch the regular Laos VIP bus - which leaves at 5:00 p.m. everyday. This VIP Bus has been running from HuayXai to LuangPrabang for over a year.
A warning: on arriving in Houay Xai, you might be approached by touts asking about your next destination. If you answer Luang Prabang, you may be pressured to reserve a ticket on a VIP bus, because the bus is invariably “sold out”. The ticket offered will be priced at something ridiculously high, perhaps 210,000-260,000 kip. Upon arriving at the bus station, you’ll be handed a ticket with the actual price, 145,000 kip, on it! At the bus station you can get a ticket all the way to Vientiane for 210,000 kip.
The local bus to Luang Prabang is about US$12 (110000 kip) at the station itself, a couple bucks more when arranged at a guesthouse or through an agent. They’ll claim the trip is 10 hours, but often turns out to be 15. The bus station is 7km from the town. However, if you buy the ticket at the bus station rather than through your guesthouse or agent then the price is lower (perhaps 145,000 kip, around US $14.50). You are told the journey is 10 hours but it can turn out to be 15 hours or more, so be prepared. Local buses leave 9 a.m. and either 12:30 or 2 p.m., and cost 60,000 kip at the station. From a guest house you might choose to pay 95,000 kip (about 350 baht) for a “package” including the 10 minute tuk-tuk ride to the bus station (usually only about 10,000 kip). There’s also the option of going by songthaew to LuangNamTha - they leave when filled, from early morning to after midnight, and cost about US$7. The hotels in Luang Namtha said to be clean and cheap.
The local buses have a lunch stop along the way. The road (Hwy. 3) has been completely sealed, but some big sections in the middle have been churned up by trucks, which adds time to the trip. From LuangNamTha, it’s about 300 km. further to LuangPrabang (on Hwy. 13). From LuangNamtha to UdomXai the road has recently been resurfaced, but work is still being done on the verges. From UdomXai to PakBeng, only about 80 km., the road is bad, and that section often takes about three hours. Various obstacles may occur elsewhere, but there haven’t been any reports of Farang getting killed by bandits for several years now.
The area traversed is scenic, rural, and mountainous. The scenery is reportedly much better than the LuangPrabang - Vientienne route, but some areas are just rubber plantations, and about half the bus trip (or more) takes place at night. On one’s own, one can make stops, for instance, at “Gibbon Experience” in Don Chai, Bokeo Province, where you can stay in tree-houses and glide along zip-lines to view some of the last black-cheeked gibbons in Laos. There are also many tribal peoples, from about 30 ethnicities, including Khmu, Hmong, Lao Loum, Lahu, Akha, Pu Tai, Phou Noy, and Tai Lue. Driving on one’s own can be arranged, but as driving is on the right (as opposed to the left in Thailand), and you need to make local insurance arrangements, that’s of questionable advisability (much better for large parties than small).
For cycling, it depends on how well the hard-top has weathered, since it was last re-surfaced. It can be done, but there’s a lot of dust, and LuangNamTha to OudomXai can be quite bad.
HouayXai’s tiny airport has service to and from Luang Prabang and also Vientiane (about US$ 46 and $88, respectively). There’s also Lao Aviation service at LuangNamTha.
Arriving back to Thailand overland can mean that you will be given only a tourist visa, valid for just fourteen days.

Bangkok Post reports (http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/394778/new-loei-luang-prabang-bus-route, © Post Publishing PCL) "New Loei-Luang Prabang bus route Published: 13 Feb 2014 at 09.03Online news: Local News The Transport Company in Thailand has joined with Naluang Company in Laos to launch a new public bus service, Route 14, to link Loei with Luang Prabang.
The journey takes about nine hours and covers a distance of 395km. “By linking these historic and picturesque regions, tourists and travellers have a new, affordable way of exploring some of Southeast Asia's cultural gems. They can do it with utmost convenience and comfort,” said the Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Thawatchai Arunyik. The Transport Company uses an air-conditioned bus with 38 seats for the new service. The bus departs from Loei Bus Terminal daily at 8am and the return trip from Luang Prabang is at 7am every day. The bus also makes one stop at Xayaburi where an Elephant Conservation Centre is located. A one-way ticket to Luang Prabang is 700 baht and 175,000 kip to Loei. If one wants to get off at Xayaburi, a one-way trip is priced at 500 baht or 125,000 kip and the travel time is s about six hours. Call the Transport Company Call centre on 1490 or Loei Bus Terminal on 042-811-706.