TravellingStrom

Riding to the end of the world, and beyond!

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Ferry Across The Water

Posted by TravellingStrom on November 3, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

It was a misty morning across the river in Laos, the change of seasons I expect, but it looked very peaceful as I packed my bags, had some breakfast and prepared to leave Thailand and head across the water.

But, a small diversion first, I had heard about this green Buddha just down the road a bit, so off I went to find it and sure enough, there was this massive temple complex, just south of town about 15km and it had a heap of beautiful things to look at, not just the green Buddha 🙂 Nothing in English so nothing for me to say, except enjoy the photos 🙂 The location is at

GPS: N20 09.036 E100 21.415

If you follow these green figures there is a walkway down around past the back of the big green Buddha and there is a lake and another huge statue, a lovely place, but I am still clueless 😉

Back up top again, below the Buddha and around the base are a lot of murals and statues of animals.

So, that nice little interlude was now over and I head back to town, on the way I passed this rice harvester which had been decorated Thai style. They love doing this to trucks and other equipment and it looks great; this tracked machine does a few runs in the wet slop until its hopper is full, then comes and unloads into the truck parked up on the hard area.


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On the way into town I passed an old Triumph, a nice tidy bike, I met up with the chap in town, name of Danny, he lives up in this region.

I got a bit confused when I wrote yesterdays post, because I included the fact I cleaned my starter switch at the mechanics shop, well, it was actually today, that is how we met, he was having coffee next door. That is what comes from writing posts too far behind, the memory plays up a bit 🙂 Anyway, the clean did not fix the bike so I had no real choice, I would need to go further with it, but decided to get the border crossing over with and sort it tonight wherever I am staying.

The border paperwork is basically pain free this side, but could be painful the other side. The basics are the same, but I had overstayed my visa by 24 hours. When I processed the bike out, they either did not care, or did not notice, so it was not an issue, the bike was ‘free’ to go 🙂 But, myself on the other hand, as I handed my passport over, had to also hand over 500Baht as a one day penalty, this could get expensive over time, but I had already factored this bit in 🙂 The first building is the passport control, the second is customs for the bike, both right on the ferry ramp.

I then went down to inspect the embarking point, crikey, that looks terrible, what type of ramp is that!!!!!

I had instant visions of Kyrgyzstan with soft mud and sand thrown in for good measure. I was not sure what I could do here, but in the end, with the two chaps from the ferry balancing the bike I got it up onto the ferry, my pucker ring was puckering I can tell you !! The worst part of it was that I had to wait for a while before attempting it and so stopped my helmet cam and forgot to start it up again, bummer. Never mind, I never fell off this time 😉 During the time between getting the passport stamped out and embarking, I had all my paperwork sorted for the other side. This involved getting passport photocopies, I needed US dollars for the visa I could buy on entry, normally $30, but add an extra $1 for being a Saturday. I also filled out the immigration form that I would need, all of these services are available at the top of the ferry ramp area, quite a few different shops.

The trip across the river was not long, but the ferry left here and went upstream about 500m, unlike the people longboats which went straight across to the other side, where immigration was. The disembarking was a bit scary also, because the semi was getting off and the boat fella was saying come on come on, but as soon as the truck get off, the ferry ramp jumped up 2 feet off the ground! Even when they swung the nose around, I still had about a foot drop off, not a very nice service at all 😦


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I have to say I was real confused over the next few hours, my SatNav suddenly decided not to play the game, the carefully planned route to Customs and then Immigration was now defunct 😦 There were no roads on the thing, and when I asked about customs, they pointed into town. I went there and found that this is the immigration point, so after a short 15 minute wait in the heat, while they had lunch, I managed to get my visa and passport stamped in. But, when I asked about the bike, they pointed back to the ferry ramp?? ❓ To cut a long story short, I had missed the window and it was now lunch for the Customs, a 2 hour lunch!!! So, I sat and waited in a small cafe and had some fried rice for lunch, when they did come back at 2pm exactly, I got processed and was away within 15 minutes, whew! I also found out what was wrong with the maps, when I disabled Thailand, it automatically selected Laos and I was back on the road again 🙂

The Friendship Bridge overview from the Laos side.

It was now 3pm and I was finally back on the road again 🙂 A few mistakes and a bit of confusion can certainly stuff up your day, but I figured I now needed to cover 180km in 3 hours, before it gets dark. And, as I am in the tropics, this would be around 6 or so, with bugger all twilight, like at home 🙂 That may sound very easy to do, but I had been WARNED! Watch out for trucks, on your side of the road, around blind corners! 😯 So I decided I would take it easy, and at first I had to, because I needed to get used to riding on the opposite side of the road, get used to cornering, where to put my head(not in front of trucks that’s for sure). But I was having some fun, the road was brilliant, lots of curves and climbs and the whole road was going to be like this 🙂

The road was like this for ages, sweeping bends and hairpins, brilliant, it made up for the rough part of the day 🙂 There were many small villages made up of bamboo houses and here kids, scooters, chooks and pigs were a hazard at any time, so I just slowed right down like a nice person and kept my eyes open.

I was having a ball, the views were nice, the roads were smooth and as I found out the worst part were the trucks, here I am having a nice fun twisty time when a truck decides to overtake another truck uphill on a bend, lucky I am vigilant, bloody wanker I yell into my helmet and give him a mental middle finger!!
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But for the most part it was an enjoyable afternoons ride.

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I arrived at the small town of Luang Namtha(after the river Namtha) around 6pm, with the sun starting to set which meant not riding in the dark, lucky me 🙂 I was soon booked into the Dokchampa Hotel, right in the centre of town, and at just under $10 for a single room, aircon, wifi, ensuite, I was a happy chappy 🙂

And of course, beer was the order of the day after unpacking and having a well deserved shower. I very quickly found a beer at the next door place called the Forest Retreat , it is run by a young Kiwi couple called Andre and Karen, here they do some great Italian food and have their own home built clay pizza oven, the pizza was great, but I ate too much and washed it down with too many beers, I was bloated! Just for the record, a 685ml bottle of beer, is $1 🙂 Today’s choice was Namkhong, well no choice really as that was all he had, but I am working on getting a different one tomorrow 🙂

I then spotted a couple of chaps I had seen before, David and Sam, they are driving a Landcruiser, the last time we had met was in Ulan Batar, Mongolia. They had just arrived that day from China. They were with a group of big trucks and a few motorcycles that did NOT have their tour cancelled, they had no paperwork problems. So, we had a great night and even tried the local lau lau rice wine, the green stuff has been added to stop the hangover, it does not work!!

It was not a late night. That does not happen in Laos, around 10.30pm the town has gone to sleep, so I grabbed a take away beer and sat down near the hotel outside having a quiet drink. Tomorrow was bike repair day, then see what happens after that.

Cheers from Luang Namtha, Laos
TravellingStrom

2 Responses to “Ferry Across The Water”

  1. Gary Deeks said

    The bloke on the triumph looks like Danny who i suggested a beer with. He has two bars there Dannys and Rim.

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