Monday, October 8, 2012

Laos Solo Ride Day 2: Ayutthaya - Boten, Laos (Part II)

Heyya..

This is the Part II of Day 2 Ayutthaya - Boten, Laos ride..


At Mae Tam in Phayao, there is a T-junction; heading straight to Chiang Rai (continue Highway 1) and right turn to Thoeng on Route 1021.. Take the right turn, heading to Thoeng on Route 1021, passing small towns called Chun and Chiang Kham.. a town called Chun? maybe there are lots of chun girls living here.. hahaa..The distance between Phayao to Thoeng is approximately 100 km..

As I arrived at Thoeng town, there is another T-junction, also on the right, which goes to Chiang Khong town on Route 1020.. The Route 1020 is the final road which leads to Chiang Khong with the distance of 76 km.. The road is narrow with a single-carriage way.. The distance of 76 km may sound close, but when I rode on the small narrow road along few Thai villages, the ride felt very long and tiring..

It was nearly 12.00 in the afternoon.. And finally, I arrived at Chiang Khong after 820 km of riding for 7 hours..
Chiang Khong is a small town which is located along the Mekong River.. The road accommodates small hotels, restaurants and banks.. And as I approached the end of the main road of Chiang Khong, I finally found the Thailand Immigration and Customs offices and barge transportation to cross the Mekong River to Huay Xai, Republic of Laos..


I looked at my watch and it was only 12.00 pm.. My initial plan was to stay a night at Chiang Khong town.. but since I arrived early, I was thinking to cross the Mekong River and stay a night at Huay Xai, Laos..
Therefore I went to the Immigration Office and Customs Department, I stamped out my Malaysian Passport and surrendered my GS Adventure custom declaration form.. it was pretty simple and quick job done by Thailand officers..

Later I found that there was a long queue of SUVs and lorries to be onboard of the barge.. but they had been there for almost hours..
Therefore I decided to grab lunch first.. a simple lunch; som tam and gai tod..

After lunch, I went back to the barge pier and surprisingly found out that the barge with the long queues of vehicles had left the Chiang Khong pier.. I missed it!



The ticketing counter officer told me the next barge could be in the next 2 hours.. They tend to fill the barge first then cross the Mekong River, once the barge is already full..

I could not wait for another 2 hours.. it is totally time wasting.. The ticketing staff told me there is another alternative way which is faster but slightly more costly, i.e. 800 Baht..

The only way was to take the small long boat, to cross the Mekong River.. I was thinking, non of BMW owners could have done this.. and I could be the only GSA owner who’s crazy enough to take the challenge.. I told the ticketing staff that I wanted to take a look first the condition of the long boat..


As I followed the trail down towards the river bank, the bank is sandy and it was sloppy.. I knew there was no turning back.. I could not make a turn and it was impossible for the heavy GSA to climb back to the road on the sloppy, soft riverbank sand.. I had to face the challenge..
I asked the boatmen at the Mekong River bank.. they were very confident to transport the GSA to Laos..
 

Putting the rhinoceros GSA onto the long boat was tough.. it drew most attentions from the crowd especially backpacker tourists, snapping lots of photos on the scenario.. From the look, I knew the backpackers were waiting for the GSA to fall off the boat..
It took 5 boatmen to lift the GSA and placed it at the edge of the long boat.. they insisted me to take a seat on the boat while they balanced and held the bike securely..


 


Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos)
Arrived safely on the river bank of Huay Xai, Laos.. the boat ride took only 20 minutes along the rough Mekong River current.. I found Huay Xai is a complicated town as there is only Customs Department at the barge pier while the Immigration Office is 3 km along the Mekong River near the Bokeo Post Office..
I lost nearly 1 and half hours for dealing my passport stamping at Immigration Office, Bike Insurance and Customs Declaration.. But I have to salute the Laos officers because they were polite and very helpful to me.. Even the Customs officer offered me to have a drink with him in his office as he was excited to see a Solo Rider who rode all the way from Kuala Lumpur within 2 days of riding (based on the information on my Malaysian passport)..

It was already 1.30 pm and I had seen enough of Huay Xai town.. I opened my Laos road map for the first time and decided to continue my ride to Boten, Laos-China Border.. Along Huay Xai, I found a signage stating Luang Namtha is only 180 km from Huay Xai.. I was thinking, I could only take at least 2 hours of riding to reach Luang Namtha and Boten town is only less 60 km from Luang Namtha.. Therefore I decided to take the challenge, riding up to Boten..

As I was riding along the Huay Xai, I finally saw the first National Highway 3 roadsign.. the distance between Huay Xai to Luang Namtha and finally to Boten is 240 km..
Here’s how the National Highway 3 looks:



It took me 3 hours to reach Boten in a cold winter ride.. It was getting dark as I arrived Boten, approximately 4.30 pm.. it got dark early as it was during winter season..


I checked in at Golden Boten City Casino Hotel, which is a five-star hotel in Boten with high-roll casino..


The distance mileage i covered from Ayutthaya (Thailand) to Boten (China-Laos Border) is 1,100 km within 12 hours..



HooRahh!!
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