Sunday, August 29, 2010

Day 63 Sun 29/08 - Rain..Rain..Rain Sickening Rain stuck in Thanh Hoa

Today Weather : 20 - 28C  Rain non stop
Today Spend : 442000vnd      Total : 542000vnd

Vietnamese street noodle stall
Decided to take a bus to Hanoi tomorrow ,154 km from here. Really sick of the rain and also no one seems to speak either English or Mandarin, couldn't find a Vietnam map in a big bookstore. Went to the ATM to cash out some Dong. I am getting home sick now.
154km to Hanoi no sweat if without the rain

A common smoking pipe in Vietnam

No harm in trying....feeling on top of the world

A shopping complex in Thanh Hoa, mostly selling cloths and shoes

Day 62 Sat 28/08 - Xam Neua Bus to Thanh Hoa ( Vietnam)

Today Weather : 20 - 28C   Rain all Day
Today Spending : 230000k + 160000vnd

The weather continues to be bad and raining non stop, everywhere seems to be flooded with water. left with no choice but to take a bus again crossing to Vietnam via the Nam Soi/ Nameo international border. The bus ticket cost 180000k. After buying the ticket while unloading my panniers from the bike, the vietnamese bus helper approached me in good English" Hallo, you need to buy another ticket for your bicycle" " What?" started to realise now I am no more dealing with the friendly Lao people but the cunning Vietnamese " Sorry I don't have enough money to but another ticket, I can only give you 30000k, take it or I refund my ticket?" The bus driver and helper were undecided trying to ignore my offer, but I was damn serious about it and went straight to the counter. My seriousness took them by surprise, before I took out the ticket, the helper calls me back and finally settled with 40000k.Bloody sucker!!!! A really bad impression on Vietnam even before you step into the country.At the border, no problem luckily but my luggage was 100% checked at the Vietnam custom before they put down an entry stamp of 30 days ( 27 Sept ). The Vietnamese custom officer even asked me to exchange to Dong from my leftover Kip. 10000k for 20000vnd. I am not sure the exchange rate for Rm, but based on the above Rm 1 = 5000vnd. Can someone help me with more information. Arrived in Thanh Hoa by 7pm , almost 12 hour journey having started 7.30am,dark and raining ,hard time to look around for resonable guest houses. Settled in one hotel , a bit more expensive at 140000vnd ( Rm 28 ) . A big room with aircon and cable tv, most important is now a hot shower,cos' 3 days hasn't been bathed. Lying on the comfort bed , my mind kept pondering " What's next from here?" Frankly I really don't know. It has been raining day and night non stop even at this hour of writing this journal 11.30pm, outside is still raining heavily...
Hyundai Van to Thanh Hoe
Vietnam custom border
For rememberance
The road between the two countries
Stop at Nameo town for lunch

Arriving at the Namsoi Lao custom

Road condition not any better

River overflowing with continuous rain

Truck skipped and landed side way  into the water

First hotel room in Thanh Hoa , Vietnam 140000vnd

Day 61 Fri 27/08 - Xam Neua another Rainy Rest Day

Today Weather : 22 - 28C   Rain the whole Day
Today Spend : 85000k    Total : 2086000k

It was stii early in the morning, the rain already started while i am still sleeping in my tent at the bus station. I was not in a hurry as i am planning to stay in a guesthouse in town just about 2 km from the station. Anyway I had to packed up early as more and more people arrived with the buses and tuk-tuk. Xam Neua, the provincial capital of Houapanh, is no better than Phonsavan in term of facilities, but the few guesthouses here are extremly expensive at 80000k, which is double that I had stayed so far. As I go in search for a reasonable one, the locals are staring at me curiously. Finally I found one 35000k, but the conditions were next to a prostitute den.No heater, no tv , the pillow case ,blanket and bed sheet were old and smelly, wonder how long they haven't been washed. The only Internet in town was too slow to do any blog update, not worth paying 10000k/ hour. In view of the frequent rains, I am toying with the idea of just taking bus to Hanoi, although my Laos exit is on the 6th Sept. Hopefully the weather in Hanoi is much more conducive for cycling.
Riding into Xam Neua
Landmark in Xam Neua
A colourful govnment building
A Vietnamese funded bridge
Lots of Vietnam influence here
A gate to the Temple
Buddhist temple
Vietnamese food
Room in Xam Neua- Prostitute den

Day 60 Thu 26/08 - Phonsavan Bus to Xam Nuea Station Camp

Today Weather : 22 - 30C   Day Cooling Night Rain
Today Spend : 207000k   Total : 2001000k

Reached the bus station by tuk-tuk sharp at 8 am. Discovered that the actual ticket price to Xam Neua is 70000k. So the agent and the tuk-tuk shared the commission of 40000k. The bus is a Toyota minibus 24 seater plus 2 helpers and the driver. No extra charge for the bike which was loaded on top of the bus together with a motorbike, a few chicken in a bamboo cage and other big luggages, well protected with a plastic cover from the rain. The bus leave at 8.30am and still picking up more passengers along the way, The bus was filled to the maximum until the driver had to turn away some much to their anger.I got the front seat beside the driver and had a good view on the road ahead. The waether is ok,cloudy but no rain. The route 7 continued flat to Muang Kuang, A junction here leading to 2 border crossing to Vietnam. One is to Nam Kan on route 7 to Vinh and the one I am going is route 6 to Nam Soi / Nameo and Hanoi .I am glad to had made the right choice of taking a bus on this part of journey, as the hills here are much much steeper than the earlier one.A lunch stop in Na Meun cost me a fortune for a bowl of noodle and a plate of fried beef with ginger and sticky rice, equavalent to a night of guesthouse stay.Not much pictures taken as I am a bit bored of the same mountain scenery. The bus arrived in Xam Neua at 6 pm on a hill top over looking down is the town. There is a guesthouse in the station but I prefer to set up my tent under a rest hut with zinc roof, and bought some foods and drinks at the stall. Tomorrow to stay in the town and see what Xam Neua has to offer.
On the way to the Bus station in a tuk-tuk
No extra charge for the bicycle but not dure on the motorbike

The road continued to climb on very steep mountain
Welcome to Xam Neua gate

Bus satation Xam Neua

View from the hill top at the station
Town of Xam Neua
My camp at the Rest hut in the station