Saturday, March 24, 2007

Crossing into Laos.

Always seemed to wake later than usual, cos of the chilly weather which makes you want to stay in bed. Which makes you lose precious hours of daylight time for riding and enjoying scenery. Road heading to Chiang Khong.

The immigration checkpoint at Chiang Khong was easy. Also didnt have to pay a cent.

The barge for vehicles. Pedestrians take half inflated inner tubes and float across. No, actually they go on little boats. I had to pay 500B for the bike. However i noticed that the lorry driver didnt pay anything. Maybe he had a season pass. Maybe I should get a $ sign tattooed on my head.

Chiang Khong immigration checkpoint in the background.

Barges are driven by boats attached by a pivot. The boats swing the barge around like tugs manouvering larger vessels. Very ingenious. Simple and efficient.

Heading upstream to the vehicular checkpoint. Immigration from this point on becomes very interesting. Took me an hour to clear, even though I was the only person there.

On the road from Huay Xai heading northeast towards Luang Namtha. Gravel was good and solid....

The roads were still under construction the time this pic was taken. This red earth was like powder. Couldnt power on through these parts. Didnt matter anyway. Look at those hills..

Dirt roads hugging mountainsides. These parts, the 250 plus kms from Huay Xai to Luang Namtha was most memorable stretch of the journey.

Had to wait more than an hour for them to complete. Road building before your very eyes.

Bike taking a 5 minute break...ahem.

Me taking a 5 minute break. Trying to stand the bike up was like powerlifting a cow.

Took a break in Vieng Phukha. The neighbourhood inspectors checking me out.

Apparently they love snooker here.

Nightfalling. Still in the middle of nowhere, with a spoilt compass (melted stuck from the heat), no phone reception and no more water. Then only did I get that happy feeling that "yes, this might be an adventure after all, I dont know where I am, nobody else does, I dont know where im going, I cant call anyone, anywhere, if I fell into a ravine and died nobody would ever know, I might as well be abducted by aliens" ...........bliss...i tell you...pure bliss.....

Neutral & engine light. Nothing else.

With the flash on. Ok, so theres the bike, now,...wheres everything else?

Reached Luang Namtha and checked into a run down hotel with a courtyard so could keep an eye on the @. Always based my preference on two things, secure place for @ and cheap rates. Ok so im lying. I like hot showers, queen sized beds, and killer views. But then that would be cheating. Anyway after washing up, i headed into town looking for a meal and had my first encounter with Lao beer, coffee and cigarettes. First rate for all three. Highly recommended. The beer is refreshing, like heineken only cheaper and not as pretentious. And the coffee, is impressive. Rich and buttery, have it at every meal, always neat, no milk or sugar. The ciggies were smooth, not as as stale as S'porean cigs but not as good as M'sian ciggies, but still good cos they were so cheap. A big brew cost USD 0.70~1.0, pack of 20's USD 0.3~0.45 and kopi 0.05~0.3 (depending upon how farang infested the area was) And surprisingly it was quite infested. But mostly hippie or eco-adventure-tourist crowd. They are ok compared to the country-tight-arse-club type.

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