Yes, in April I got a two-month double entry visa with 6 month validity in Vientiane. I have a US passport and had no difficulty whatsoever. You just have to check the box for 60 days. I didn't ask for double entry but it's what I was hoping for. Very easy. The office for visa processing is only open in the morning from 9:30 - 11:30.
Thanks for the advice. I actually had giardia about 20 years ago and took metronidazole but had horrible side effects and had to stop taking it. I then took either Quinacrine or Tinidazole...you wouldn't happen to know if those drugs are available here?
Actually, I know several successful businessmen who have lived here for years who speak no Chinese, and not all of them are married to Chinese women, although that does seem to be a very successful route for many foreign men.
If you had a hard time with Spanish and French, you probably won't be able to pick up any Chinese by listening. But, the characters are really not that hard. If you have been able to figure out some foreign alphabets enough to get a basic idea, you might have some success with characters. Of course, they aren't an alphabet, but they do have a somewhat lose pattern, and if you could learn the radicals and about 2000 or so characters, you could figure out most signs. Of course you would still need a very trustworthy translator.
lao_wai, I know what you mean and it's always puzzled me, too. When I moved to this country, I was in the habit of making eye contact and hopefully exchanging a smile or at least a friendly expression with people I passed on the street. The locals generally don't seem too receptive to that, although they will generally stare back, albeit somewhat coldly. The foreigners don't stare back, they stare right through me as if I don't exist. Not sure which is worse, being stared at or being stared through.