Chiang Kong – Luang Namtha
4th May 2014 24’C 202km
I was up and ready up go at 7:30am this morning, so headed to the customs house to meet Na for the bridge crossing to Laos. I was sitting by the river waiting, and checking over paperwork when I noticed that the Thai customs import form, that was filled in by the customs officer, was full of mistakes.
The engine number on the form was actually my passport number… My passport number was some other random number, My nationality was listed as Laotion, the bike as a Lao registered bike, my address as San Marino, the value of the bike 1.5M baht. The only thing that was correct, was the colour. No wonder the customs guy had a headache when I was creating the form. I just hoped it wouldn’t matter on exiting Thailand, I don’t think anyone ever looks at these forms.
At 820am, I checked my phone and found a missed call from Na. It seems we had some confusion, Na was waiting for me 7km away, at the immigration checkpoint.
I jumped back on the bike and gassed it to the border.
On arrival at the newly constructed bridge & border buildings, Na was waiting, paperwork in hand. The border was very quiet, with only one other car waiting to cross.
The immigration officer swiftly stamped my passport out of Thailand, checked out the bike and said with a smile “now you follow the ice-cream car”. By which he meant, the blue and white immigration car with flashing lights, that was to be my escort over the bridge. A quick photo with Na, and I handed over 2000 baht for all her work.
I then proceeded to follow the immigration car, with the two officers inside, across the bridge. We never went faster than 40kmh, despite there being no other traffic on the bridge. On reaching the Laos side, the Thai immigration car turned around and drove back to Thailand, and I parked at Lao immigration. It took about 10 minutes to obtain the visa on arrival, I was then stamped into Laos and sent to customs. The customs guy knew exactly what to do, and filled in the forms quickly. After paying 100 baht, all the documents were stamped and I drove out into Laos on the other side of the road, again. Total time at both borders was less than 40 minutes.
And so I rode along the fabulous mountain roads, stopping for photos occasionally, and inspecting the many trucks that seem to always run off the road in Laos. It usually appears that they just never made the turn. Maybe overloaded?
I stopped at a cave and met a very nice couple and their 3 year old daughter, who have been riding their bicycle around the globe for 2 years. Seriously hard core! They arrived at the same town as I, only 5 hrs later.
Tonight I checked out the night market, and feasted on a great dinner of sticky rice and Sa, sort of like a marinated chicken salad with garlic, mint, lemongrass. Delicious.