We had developed a weird tendency to severely underestimate physical challenge. Our bus from Chiang Rai deposited us somewhere nondescript in the Thai border town of Chiang Khong, and we half-remembered assurances from the internet that the Lao border was eminently walkable. Tuk-tuks swarmed us the moment we disembarked our bus and scooted impatiently alongside us for the first ten minutes of our walk.
“It’s hot,” they noted, although clearly we felt it more than they. We had our backpacks, and we had just been on a bus for three hours, and also it was noon. Didn’t we want to rest our weary, shambling corpses in this trundling convenience wagon?
“No thanks!” we chirped. “We love walking!” We were idiots.
About six kilometers and several soaked t-shirts later, we arrived at the border and shakily produced our exit cards, dripping and stained with sweat as they were. We could barely lift our arms, and wondered if we could pay anyone to drag us physically down to the water. From the border we were directed down to the banks of the river, where people took our ridiculous bags onto their canoes and rowed us across to a new land. We were in Laos.