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The Laos border post was a few km down a new road just blasted thru the mountains. I got there and once again was the only person, I didn't go inside the building, I had to stand outside and stoop to work thru a little window. It was a brand new building and there was a big plaque saying how it was built with a grant from the vietnamese development fund. They processed my papers, there was a toll fee, a fee for it being sunday, a fee for the bike, a visa fee, a visa processing fee, and they took my temperature using an infrared sensor pointed at my forehead, to ensure I didn't have swine flu, and was charged a fee for that. I was fee-d up. They had taken most of the money I had. I had tried to get more in Hanoi, but they wanted my passport and proof of onward travel to give me foreign currency, how do I have proof of onward travel on a motorcycle?!??!?!
Anywho, I set off into Laos. The road was brand new, just blasted into the mountains, it wasn't finished yet, and the trucks had chewed it up badly in some places, other places it wasn't too bad. There wasn't much traffic at all, just the occasional dump truck. 2 years ago this was a nothing track to nowhere, and now they are building it, it was no surprise that there were no bridges on the road, we had to cross 4 streams by going thru the water, they are in the process of building bridges
The road ended at the river in Muan Khua, and I had to take a boat over to the town, they picked up my bike and put it into this little boat, then I had to sit on the bike like I was riding it, they put another bike and a few more people in the boat, then we crossed the river, I was a tad nervous, we unloaded on the other side, and I stopped to rest and check my maps
There was a notice board with boat times and prices, I asked around at a few hotels about boats, some said there were boats, others said there weren't any, some people quoted me $20 for a boat, others said $200. it turns out there is a boat sometimes, it depends on how many people want to go, if 10 people want to ride its $20, if only 1 person its $200, they said to come back tomorrow and see how many people want to take the boat, everyone says the bus is quicker, so that must mean the roads are in good shape. By this time I had been walking around town over an hour and was tired and frustrated, and I wasn't really in the mood to drive the 100km to Oudom Xay this late in the day, as I didn't know what the roads would be like. If it was Vietnam I would have, but I'm not sure about Laos, so I found a hotel and took a nap. I woke up and went out and met an english guy, a brazilian guy, and a german girl, who were also staying in the same hotel. We walked around then got some dinner. They had taken the bus from Dien Bien Phu, they caught the bus at 5:30 am and had driven 10 minutes out of town, then just stopped and sat for over 4 hours with no explanation, then drove on to here, and were too late to get any buses out of town. There may not be any ATMs in this town, but they got electricity last year, and you know what that means................................Yup, late night kareoke bars! Asian pop tunes sung badly, hooray! I went to bed still unsure whether I would try and get a boat, or drive to Luang Prabang the next day.