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Archive for November 15th, 2012

Muang Sing – China Border Test Ride

Posted by TravellingStrom on November 15, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

After an early breakfast of my usual, fried eggs and bacon in a baguette, lovely bread here by the way, I slipped downstairs and installed the replacement starter solenoid. Hmm, it did not work, WTF!!!! I grabbed my probe to test the voltage coming from the starter switch to the solenoid plug and as I measured it, the bike fired up!!! 😯 I was a bit confused, but I then tried the starter about 10 times and it was fine, so I was pretty hopeful it was fixed, but just a tad concerned as to why it did not work first go? I had done a resistance measurement on the solenoid contacts and compared between the two units, they were identical, so I had no idea what if anything was still at fault. I decided rather than take a chance, I would do a test ride to Muang Sing, a small border town next to China. It was a scenic route and was only 120km round trip, so if the bike failed again, I could probably get it going then ride it back here to sort it out.

The other job I needed to do was repair the broken wire for the GPS power, this was a bit fiddly to do as it was hard to get my hands down in there near the front forks, but I managed in the end. I could only tape it, I had no soldering iron, maybe a big town would have a gas one, but this town had nothing like that. It was nearly midday when I headed off and both myself and flopsy were happy to be off again, and it was pleasant to have my GPS back up on the dash where it belongs. 🙂 I hope this time it lasts the journey, two failures is bad so hopefully third time lucky!

The road to the border was not the best, in some sections they had removed the surface for 100m and it has been like that for ages. In others it was just damage caused by landslides I guess they need to wait until the dry season before they can oil it up for some gravel to seal it. It was a twisty road, and the scenery was great, one of these shots shows a river and a small swinging bridge across it. There were many small villages to ride through, most of them made from bamboo and other natural resources.

It started to rain but I kept on going, it was not cold, but it made the corners a bit slippery, especially where the mud was washed out over the road.

I got to the border town around 1.30 and I was starving, so I found a likely looking place where I ordered a traditional dish from this village. While waiting for my tucker I was approached by the local product sellers, and I mean local product, not just bracelets and head gear, but ganja and opium!!! Opium was selling for $4, this got you a small block about the size of your thumb nail and the thickness of a match stick. I declined to purchase any of them, but gave the lady 1000kip for a photo 🙂 Ahh, so that is what being tall looks like, it makes a change 🙂

She must have dobbed me in to her mates because the next thing you know I was surrounded by drug sellers, and the one on the right must have been checking her own product cos she had the giggles real bad 🙂 They had been trying to split some money up, but did not have the correct denominations, so to fix that I gave them a 1000kip note each(10c each) and they posed for some photos 🙂

After this leisurely lunch during which the rain stopped, I continued on just as the rain started again, bummer. But this time I closed up all my jacket vents and put the waterproof liner in, it was too late for the leaky boots and so with wet feet I rode towards the border itself, which was about 10km away. When I got there a policeman border guard turned me around, it was just a small checkpoint, mainly for locals and I was told no photos, and I did not even bother trying as it was still raining, but did get one of the warning sign just beforehand.

One of the things I see all the time is domesticated pigs walking around with wooden frames strapped to their heads. This is to stop them getting out of the fenced areas, but where I usually see them is on the side of the road walking with a funny gait as they constantly bang their knees against the framework, on purpose it seems. I think they must have been let out on purpose as well, which seems odd to me? This group were protecting their babes.

The return ride was just as wet and I would be glad when it was over. The bike performed well, it started every time and the GPS also worked fine, so it was a successful test ride today and I celebrated that with a beer or three 🙂 Then as I was chatting to some people I heard a big bike with a distinctive sound and just managed to see a British plated bike heading away in the dark. I had a feeling it was Chris, he was heading this way and after a short while I heard him coming back slowly, so I flagged him down, and yes it was Chris, great to catch up again m8 🙂 ( Chris was one of the riders with me on the China leg of the trip, excuse the evil glint in his eyes, courtesy of my camera)

He was stuck at the ferry crossing for a few hours while waiting for it to fill up with trucks, thus he ended up riding the last part in the dark while it was raining, not a nice feeling!! He went and booked into a guest house then came back over to the Retreat for a beer, food and a chat, it was good to catch up again and we swapped stories for a few hours. I was planning on leaving in the morning to head to a small town between here and Luang Prabang but I also wanted to take a small diversion back to the Boten border town for some extra photos.

Cheers from Luang Namtha

Posted in Around The World, Eurasia | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

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