TravellingStrom

Riding to the end of the world, and beyond!

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Clunkity Clunk – Hmm, That Doesn’t Sound Good – Stranded on the Highway in Laos

Posted by TravellingStrom on December 3, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

I was up early just to say hooroo to the dirt bike riders, they left around 7am, have fun you guys(and Kate), don’t get too dirty, I see the bikes are shiny clean, I expect them to be returned the same way 😉 LOL 🙂


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I had a basic breakfast as I wanted to get to the shop early. It did not take long to remove the front fork, but then of course I had to go on the net and find the correct fluid level needed to balance the other fork, plus work out what fork oil I needed. In this case it was 10W fork oil and the level is determined by measuring down from the top edge of the fork to the surface of the oil inside, without the spring in, and should be 150mm. Thanks to the GURUS at VSRI for the info..This was done to my satisfaction and all for the measly price of $20!! When I got the other fork done in Moscow, that cost $125 🙂 I should say here that in Moscow I had to buy the fork seals and bought the extra kit, even so, the price was cheap compared to Oz

Because it was so early, I decided to make tracks south, it was 470km to Savannakhet which is way too far for a day here, especially as it was now nearly 11am. But, I could knock off a big chunk of that if I rode steadily to make up the distance, forgetting the sights, assuming there are some 😉 My stay here was quite cheap overall, $35/night includes all my food and booze, can’t go wrong there eh as I have not led a monks life 🙂 So as mentioned I left at 11am and found once I was out of the city the road was open and fast, it was still full of scoots with their shopping and cousins on board, but to tell the truth, it was fun to actually get back up to 100kmh for the first time, since I have no idea when!! 🙂

I was getting hungry after a couple of hours and stopped where I saw a tour bus parked next to a cafe. Always a good sign with a tour guide, it may be his mum or aunt, but safe on the guts 🙂 I chose the basic chicken fried rice, although the menu did have some unusual items on it 😉

At this stage I was following the Mekong and like all Asian markets or road side sellers, they all sell the same thing, right next to each other, it must work I guess, but they don’t understand market edge! Eric had an insight here. His understanding is if it works for them it will work for me. So, if someone tries a new idea, like add a sign outside their business to advertise a product and it seems to work, the rest of the people will also install a sign. BUT, they assume the sign will bring the business, not the reason for the sign, like a new product, service etc. Of course this does not work, but don’t forget all the smartest people in this country were exterminated during and after the war, so it is a slow learning curve back, no disrespect they are bloody nice people 😦

I continued on east and south and as I was doing such a good speed, I though it is not beyond the realms of possibility that I may get to Savannakhet before dark, that would give me a good boost for the southern part of Laos for the next week or so, before entering Cambodia. There were some roadworks along here, not nice stuff, wet mud tracks and for the next 40km or so, this was the case. Not a big deal in the end, but when it wasn’t wet, it was dusty as!!!

A lot of the villages in this area where feverishly drying some type of fruit, well I think it was fruit, I think it might be coconut, but I am not sure and I could never understand the answer when I asked. Now, when I say feverishly, I mean nearly every square inch of ground was covered with tarps and this stuff on it, they would be raking it over to dry all sides.

It was not much further down the track from here that I actually changed my destination to Savannakhet on my GPS. I had been doing an average of 100kmh so the distance was doable. Unfortunately, I must have not touched wood or something at one stage because I was just going up through the gears, settling in for the next few hours when there was a loud clunk, the bike jumped and the engine stalled!!!! 😯 If you watch the movie there is normal annoying wind noise from the mic, then a few seconds after it starts the picture jumps, this is just before the red car goes past the other way, the wind noise goes away and I coast to a stop, with a bright red light on in the middle of the dash which is hard to see in this crap quality YouTube service.


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Well, that was not good. As you can tell from the movie, I tried to start it, but it would not catch. It was not seized and all the internal bits of the engine were still internal as far as I could see, and there were no internal juices suddenly external, but my thoughts went along the line of, yes, they are all still inside that engine case, but whether they were still in the place they were supposed to be I had no idea 😦 So, what to do, it was 3.30pm with about 3 hours max of daylight. I was stuck on a slight rise, I could not park the bike on the side of the road because the table drain was too steep. I certainly did not want to leave the bike and go looking for help!

So, I phoned a friend 🙂 Well, actually I have not met him yet, but this chap I had been in email contact with is called Don Duvall, or the Midnight Mapper 🙂 check out his website HERE I was actually staying two doors down from him at the same hotel/guest house. I have met his wife a few times as they live here permanently, at this stage, but only ‘met’ Don via email or text. After a short chat with him it became evident I was not going forwards, but backwards. The ONLY bike mechanic in Laos or Cambodia who knows big bikes, by that I mean bigger than 125cc, is Fuark, back up in Vientiane. In a nutshell I was advised to get myself and my bike back up north to the closest highway intersection, which happened to be about 20km back, the junction of the 13S and 8E. Here would be accommodation and more importantly truck drivers with trucks 🙂

So taking that on board I started stopping traffic, it is not as hard as you think really. If you stand in the middle of the road and wave down the next truck you will get a result, meanwhile dodging all the hit and run artists in normal cars they call drivers over here. Of course sometimes the result is unexpected, like they beep the horn and you dive out of the way, but eventually the bog standard truck that they use in this whole sub continent, the Hyundai, came along and said, yep we can get your bike in there 🙂

You may be able to tell that this is a people mover, but they tie up the bench seats and can get anything in them 🙂 So lucky for me they were interested in skull dragging the bike into the back of this truck, ute thing. Now, although they had a plank which helped a bit, the roof height beat the logistics, so we had to drop the bike on it its side to get it actually in there!!!! By this stage, it made no difference to me, what’s a few scratches between friends, this is why you should never love your bike, it is a tool and a means of transport, so if it has a slightly less comfortable ride than you, well, who cares 😉

So after some unintelligible chatter between us, these guys delivered me to a town 20km back up north which was the junction of the 13south and the 8east. In fact they pulled into the yard of a place which was like a truckie hotel, cheap and nasty. But, the lady I spoke to, she had a bit of English. said something along the lines of yes I could get a truck about 9am the next morning 🙂 That sounds great 🙂

So, I was now in a crappy cardboard hotel, not cheap at 50,000kip a night with no drainage, no aircon and no breakfast and no bloody beer !!! But, it could have been worse stuck on the side of the road. I was now committed to staying here, with no WiFi, but over the next few hours I settled in, they had cold Beerlau at the restaurant next door, so Nullus Anxietas mate eh!!! They even served food, which was a bonus, even if I was by my lonesome!

It was at this point the night changed, for the better is my way of thinking 🙂 There are no photos to back this up, but, a chap called ‘Freddie” sat across from me and struck up a conversation. He could see I was a falang and his story goes like this:

He was one of the Muang people that were used during the Secret War, he was only 13yo at the time but was recruited by the CIA to learn how to kill the dreaded Viet Kong. He was wounded, and escaped over the Mekong into Thailand. Apparently he is still to this day hunted by the communist regime, and if he ever returns to Phonsavan where he came from, he would never survive.

I won’t delve into the political discussion that follows, because as any normal piss artist will tell you, if you are in a foreign country, their rules rule 🙂 But, what was the best part of the whole evening, for me anyway, was that Freddie phoned a few mates in this area and eventually one turned up in a truck, he looked at my bike, and asked a price, which as it turns out was pretty high, but I shook hands and said, you be here tomorrow morning, take me to Vientiane and its a deal 🙂

So the deal was struck, they would turn up about 0730, we would then see about skull dragging the bike into the back of his Hyundai and hit the road, so with a bit of luck, I would be back where I started yesterday around lunchtime !

Cheers from
TravellingStrom

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