"I have worn the dust of many foreign streets, but to brush it off would surely be a crime..."
|(A group photo in front of the Guesthouse)|
Date: 17 December 2014 (Wednesday)
Route: Chiang Khong - Boten - Oudomxay
Distance: 311 km
Hotel: Charming Lao Hotel
This morning we planned to cross the border into Laos. In 2012, during our Kembara Qurban Kemboja, we crossed the Mekong River on an open barge from Chiang Khong to Huay Xai. But from December 2013, the ferry crossing was replaced by the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge linking the two border towns.
|(Arriving at Thailand Border Immigration Complex)|
|(Posing with our KTM before border crossing)|
|(Our first time to cross the Friendship bridge, escorted)|
|(Arriving at Laos Border Imigration Complex)|
|(Motorbikes parked, expecting for a long process)|
|(Unprecedented procedures even to the local guide)|
After having our breakfast at the Muslim stall, we rode to the Friendship Bridge for border crossing. It was swift and easy at the Thai border after paying B400 for motorbike, rider and pillion. We completed the custom declaration and document of conveyance. We were escorted by a patrol car when we rode across the Friendship Bridge. It cost us B100 per motorbike and B50 for the toll.
It was a different story at the Laos border. We were greeted by Mr. Lee our guide in Laos. He was accompanied by a Lao Policeman and a driver. We paid B200 when we submitted our passports and entry cards. Even with the assistance of the guide, border clearance was complicated and lengthy and made difficult with the same-same mentality and we were made to wait until some grease money was given to the officials.
|(Crossing the border and riding towards China border)|
|(Local scene: Children coming back from school)|
|(A lone hut in the middle of terraced paddy fields)|
|(Riding on a mountainous, winding road))|
|(Local scene: a mother and two small children)|
|(Local scene: Pink buffaloes marching along the road)|
|(This wreckage was here two years ago)|
|(Hill tribes bamboo huts)|
|(Local scene: gathering a bundle of fire woods)|
|(Heading to Boten, the Laos/China border town)|
|(Local scene: Ladies bringing home harvest for the day)|
Escorted by our guide vehicle, we rode on the main highway towards Boten, situated at the border of Laos and China opposite to the Chinese town Mohan. While Boten is part of Laos, most speak Mandarin Chinese as their native language. Riding on the right side of the road, riders need to be careful and beware of children and animals crossing the road.
We reached the border town and took pictures at the famous milestone, a kilometer to the China border. Some had the opportunity to ride nearer to the border and took photos with the iconic Stupa entrance.
|(Busy and dusty trunk road towards the border)|
|(A few kilometers more to the China border)|
|(Arriving at Laos Immigration Complex)|
|(A famous milestone: a kilometer of no man's land)|
|(Arriving at China border)|
|(One for the album, we were here before)|
|(A group photo, where's the rest of the gang?)|
After refuelling we rode on towards Oudomxay passing through small towns and villages. It was interesting to note the multi-ethnic diversity of local Laotians and the Hill tribes and we had the opportunity to witness glimpses of their multi-cultural ways of life.
|(Riding out of Boten heading south)|
|(Riding the narrow busy street)|
|(Riding up the mountain ranges)|
|(Panoramic view of mountains and valleys)|
|(Passing through small villages)|
|(Passing through small towns, too)|
Oudomxay is the largest city in Northern Laos located in the Nam Ko River Basin and surrounded by scenic mountains. It was already dusk when we checked-in the 5-star Charming Lao Hotel in Oudomxay.
The temperature outside was below 10’c and we had to wear thick clothing to protect from the chill and wind when we went for dinner at a Chinese Restaurant, a walking distance away from our hotel.
|(Arriving at Charming Lao Hotel)|
|(All wrapped-up against the cold weather)|
|(Dinner at a Chinese restaurant)|