Into Vietnam on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter Forwood

Vietnam on a Harley (16/2/05 - 16/2/05)
Distance 62 km (412331 km to 412393 km)

This is part of the eleventh section of my around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from Laos
16/2/05 I just rode past the Vietnamese border post but was stopped a couple of km's further by a river. Two Vietnamese police on motorcycles caught up and politely insisted I return. Papers were inspected, the motorcycle thoroughly searched and I was escorted 6 km into Vietnam, across the river, where I dropped the motorcycle, to their main office. More inspection of papers, discussions and then insistence that I return the way I had come which I did as far as the river. Then the realization of their intention and I politely refused to proceed. Insisting the motorcycle couldn't make the trip, that I only ended up here because I couldn't go back earlier, insisting I be allowed to ride to Lao Bao, a sealed road to correct the paperwork. There we waited as locals gathered to look at the bike and see what would transpire. Two older men had hands missing, presumably from land mines, more motorcycles crossed with bags of clothes and the water buffalo grazed uninterested. Three hours of insistence and refusal after which the police simply took my papers back to the border (Cua Khau Phu Ban Cheng) and demanded that I must return there to collect them. Left to myself I decided to ride to Lao Bao, really my only option as it was late afternoon, and would have been impossible to travel back over the track in the dark. A new concrete road, cut through the mountains for the first 20 km, then joining an asphalt road being upgraded for the expected increase in traffic across the border. 45 km to Lao Bao and I immediately reported the situation to the border Police. I had managed a couple of photos along the way and talked to locals, obviously never having seen a similar motorcycle. A surprise that my paperwork arrived at the border within 30 minutes of me. The border was closing for the night, wooden carts of scrap metal, old bombs and bomb fragments, pushed by hand were the last to cross.The new concrete road to Lao Bao Polite discussions again, clearance with Laos that I was allowed to return and it was after dark that I was escorted across the border, presumably with comments of stupid tourist. Not the sortie into Vietnam I had hoped for on the motorcycle, 60 km, mostly unescorted, not the most rewarding. 

Move with me to Laos          


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Story and photos copyright Peter and Kay Forwood, 1996-
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