December 14, 2004 GMT
Size IS Important

Spent the last two nights at Phonsavan, which is in the middle of the Plain of Jars, which is also more or less in the middle of the saturation bombing by the US during their rather better publicised exercise next door in Vietnam.

While there I decided to have a go at getting through the border to Vietnam - the closest crossing was only 140km away at Nan Cam. So off I went yesterday morning and arrived at around 11am. The Lao border chap said there was no point doing me until around 1:30 as Vietnam didn't open until 2. So I was duly done at 1:30 and pootled off to Vietnam. Great fun where the trucks had churned everything in the rainy season and it's now hardened into - well, use your imagination. *I* got into Vietnam OK, but unfortunately the bike's too big. They've reinstated the requirement for a special permit for a bike over 150cc, which is only obtainable in Hanoi. Bugger. So I retrieved my passport and motocrossed back to the Lao border to throw myself on their mercy (exit stamp in passport and single-entry visa cancelled). No probs - exit stamp annulled and visa uncancelled (shades of Bulgaria in 1996).

Did think I might be able to have a go at one or both of the other possible border crossings, but today I bumped into Paolo and Massi (Italians) on an R1100GS who'd tried the same thing and had no luck. They're doing RTW in the opposite direction to me, and say I'll love Bolivia.

So, it's on to Plan C; can't get to Cambodia from Laos with the bike (the only crossing is pedestrians only), so I have to go back into Thailand and take the only possible crossing from there, then back into Thailand again. Heigh-ho.

Road Hazards
------------
Old ladies
Pigs
Children
Turkeys
Half a banana tree
Bullocks
Eight-year-old monk on a day-glo pink fairy cycle
Dogs

Road Kill
---------
Lunch, I imagine, as I've seen none (in Japan it was mostly chipmunks with the occasional monkey).

Sundries
--------
* Enormous poinsettia bushes rampaging over the mountains.

* The little chef where they'd poured me a small glass of cold beer before I'd even got off the bike.

* Christmas tree and tinsel in the bar on the verandah overlooking the Mekong river.

* Wonderful log fire in the hotel at Phonsavan (bloody cold up in the mountains).

* Taking care where I go behind a tree by the road due to the prevalence of UXO (unexploded ordnance - a child a week is killed by it around here).

* Met Fred the Dutchman again in Luang Prabang as well as a nice young couple I'd met at the youth hostel in Phitsanulok.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at December 14, 2004 05:44 PM GMT
 


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