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Old 11 Dec 2007
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Angry Laos: Warning - "Friendship Bridges" closed to bikes

Today I went to the Lao border post at the Savannakhet "Friendship Bridge" to enquire whether I had to pay any fees to leave. To my great consternation I was told that (motor)bikes are not allowed on the bridge. They suggested this may be because the boss thinks there may be accidents and to load the bike onto a bus!

The passenger ferries don't take bikes - I asked. They suggested I leave via Vientiane or Pakse.

Tomorrow I'll try to cross the bridge anyway, seeing the first officer I spoke to didn't seem to know about the restriction. Failing that I'll try to hitch a ride on a pickup. Plan C is to ride down to Pakse, a 250 km detour. I was supposed to be on Koh Samui in 3 days' time...

I know that you can't enter Laos via either of the two bridges, but wasn't aware that you can't leave, either.

I'll keep you posted.

There is no limit to the stupidity of unaccountable bureauprats. QED.

Europe to NZ 2006-10
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Old 12 Dec 2007
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What if

you just asked to walk alongside pushing your bike? rather than riding it?
Might get away with that! good luck
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Old 12 Dec 2007
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I wouldn't want to try that: it's a very long uphill push. But apart from that pedestrians aren't allowed, either. Cars, trucks and buses only.

Europe to NZ 2006-10
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Old 12 Dec 2007
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OK, here is what happened today:

I thought I haven't got much to loose to try anyway. After a few minutes I was called into the main building, then the director of immigration took me into his office where he explained to me that according to an agreement between the two govts. only cars, trucks and buses are allowed onto the bridge. He then proceeded to call his counterpart in Thailand and they agreed to exceptionally let me cross.

After that processing was quick. Nobody asked for any bike documentation, which I didn't have anyway, only had to show the rego.

Approaching the toll booth I was stopped again. They had a problem with me crossing and wanted me to go to the police, which I didn't, obviously. I think their problem was that the toll system is automated and they don't have a rate for bikes, but there are induction loops in the road. After 10 or 15 mins they indicated that I could go, but I had to leave via the wrong way, where there was no barrier or loop.

So, I made it in the end, but I would advise against others trying it, because if it doesn't work you have a long detour ahead.

Europe to NZ 2006-10
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Old 12 Dec 2007
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That's typical

I've crossed the bridge twice and both times were a headache (the same in Savannakhet). But both times were successful in the end. (I said I was Australian and we thought we were invited to cross as we had funded the bridge. But I'm sure others can come up with better bullshit than that.) The problem is the staff rotate a lot and there's no corporate memory. If it means a few days in Nong Khai while you work it out there are certainly worse places to stay! Good cheer, a smile and a souvenir for the boss works wonders. If it doesn't work, get an empty pick-up to carry you across, or hire one for $10 in Nong Khai.

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Old 31 Dec 2007
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Nong Khai

Who said Nong Khai was only worth a couple of days, Nong Khai is a great place to be there are many things to do and if its the Lao way your looking for then you should know that Nong Khai was once part of Lao thats why they all speak Lao and if you look around town you can still see the french colonial influence in the buildings. Try going up or down river there are many interesting places to see, take a look at this site to get the flavour of the place Volunteer Teaching Abroad - Volunteer Vacations to Teach - Thailand there is also many bars and restaurants and inexpensive hotels and as for getting over the bridge by bike there is no problem as I go many times without delay's and you only have about 30 min's wait on the Lao side for your visa application, great place to be that is why I have been here for 23 years and if your ever in Nong khai have one in the Bikers bar.

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