At the Loas border Customs

“Who is the contact”?


“You need a contact address and number”  I understood what the customs official was saying but I thought everything was going swimmingly until he announced this.  What was I supposed to do?  We had got the bikes all the way from Dien Bien Phu to 8km from the Laos border at Tay Trang.  We had been told previously the road conditions were sever, so so that supposedly another traveler on a bike possibly the same as our had to turn back as it was too difficult to pass.  Pff Pussy, if the Vietnamese can do it on scooters we were sure we could do it on our Minsk’s.

“What is the contact”?  I put on my broad boro accent and spoke no pigeon english for this guy.  “I’m sorry mate but I don’t have his number, I don’t have a phone you see”  I think I can remember where it was I bought the bike, but you see I did not take down his details”.  I went on further than this until the official finally gave up and stamped my papers.  Hugo was outside still looking for his driver’s licence, I made sure no one could hear me tell him to do the same when they ask.

A few more stamps and signatures and we were through customs.

No go! Hugo waits for the diggers

A little further down the road and we hit the road works.  The road was closed as they literally built a road before us.  We waited for about 2-3 hours for the work to be completed and so got out our books and read and sun bathed.

Still waiting...

A steep and long way down

 Finally after hours of waiting we were eventually at the Loas Border.  Here we had no problems other than paying what seemed like a lot of money to pass with the bikes.  Another off-road adventure ensued.  It was bad and the progress was slow but no matter we had to make it to the nearest town of Mung Mai to find a place to sleep and again we found ourselves fighting the sunset and the chance of the road being closed for more construction.  Some 35km down the long winding dirt track we made it to Mung Mai just as the sun was setting.

On the road to Mung Mai

Hugo braves the water first. "Watch ya sparkplug don't get wet Huho"

The River in the town of Mung Mai

After lunch it was dark in the town of Mung Mai.  There were no street lights at all and as I wandered through the streets in search of a local bar of some sort I felt a sense of complete isolation.  My only light was that of the moon and the occasional light from a window or from a shop still open just incase a passer-by may be in need for a snack or some cigarettes.  I walked hardly 100 foot before I realised I would be unable to go any further without a torch.  There were hardly anyone on the streets, this place really seems to shut down once the night set’s in.  It was only around 7pm at this time and I was in no mood to retire for the night.

I crossed an Indiana Jones style bridge across the river, the life source for this village.  Used not only as a bathroom but a laundry, a car wash and a source of fresh fish.  The bridge led me to a bar on the other bank of the river.  Here I was welcomed warmly by the locals.  Most of whom spoke no English at all apart from one or two of a group of teenagers sat at a table in the corner.  I asked if I may sit with them and of course I was pulled a chair and welcomed into the group.  I managed to convey my story in so many words and with a lot of sign language.  I mixed in humour as a certain ice breaker and left after only having the one beer.  It was hard work but I think they appreciated my efforts, and of course my custom.

Before I called it a day I spent an hour with the family of the Guest House watching a Loas soap opera and drinking another beer.  I of course had no idea what was being said but got the gist of what was going on, and because the whole family were transfixed to the show I could not really engage in any social interaction, so again my only vice was to use some simple humour in conjunction to what was going on the TV.  This made for some interaction which made my night.