Last night we got soaked during dinner, a torrential rainstorm erupted, blowing away our little Gazebo of the restaurant we were sitting under, in fact, if it was not for the restaurants signs and Light-Boxes attached to the gazebo we might have lost Tex who hung on for dear life while the rest of us took the Lazy-Susan and ran. I took only the water and the wine, the food, once again was not worth saving, the dishes that we ordered the last 7 nights have all been pure Chilly infused with Battery Acid, sprinkled with every type of Green Pepper and red peppers, before the third carefully-balanced-rice-on-a-stick reaches my mouth the sweat already runs down my face. I blame Peens and Greg for inciting Tony (who also loves hot food) for hi-jacking the Dinners, I will have to take over the food orders the minute we cross over to Laos. After dinner we had a fire-works show, all from the box Peens bought a few days ago. It is actually very cool, all the rockets and other fire-works are packed facing up and in rows, you then just open the lid, light two big fuses at the bottom of the box and then the show starts as the fireworks are carefully packed and timed so that they go off in quick succession, very professional.
This morning we rode to the border in very hard rain, then Tex got a puncture and on another fore-court of the last petrol station before the border a new tube was fitted from our box of spares.
We said goodbye and thank you to Tony after he assisted us to exit China, making sure the correct stamps and paperwork were done as the $50 000-00 Customs Deposit will only get re-funded in about 4 weeks provided the paperwork and stamps are correct. It took us only 45 minutes to leave China and only 2 hours to enter Laos. But the change between the two countries are huge. Laos is a very very poor country and you can see it within the 1st five kilometers, the road is very narrow, full of potholes hidden under a river-of-rain. The people stay on the road in small villages, their houses on stilts and built from wood and roofs of woven palm-leaves.
The other thing you notice is how many little children there are, playing in the rain right next to the road. Many toddlers running next to the road naked, a lot of pregnant mothers as well. Note you dense the jungle is next to the road.
There is almost no traffic, the people can’t afford the scooters as their neighbors, there are a lot of pedestrians walking back to their houses in the rain carrying their hand-farm-tools. Laos is situated under China and it one neighbor is Vietnam and its other neighbor is Myanmar, to the bottom is Thailand and Cambodia. The entire day it felt like we were riding in Vietnam War Movie as everything we saw reminded me of what I had seen before in the movies. And the rain never let up, it continued flat-out, the whole day. Along the road there were little local markets selling fruit and rice but also interesting things like little bags full of Eels and buckets of bugs.
We stopped for “lunch” at a road side “restaurant” hoping it would stop raining, but instead it shifted up a gear and we got some rain coming down at an angle as well. It is mud everywhere you look and every river you pass is red-brown in colour from all the muddy water running down into it. None of us could ask what “meat” was in our lunch, no one said anything, but I can now put it out there that what we ate was definitely tripe, but not beef tripe, the pattern of the inside of the stomach was very visible to me, I honestly hope it was from a sheep.
We arrived in this little town which I chose as it was the closest town to the Chinese border with an international airport and now I wonder if that was such a good idea as this town is very small and I honestly hope the airplane will be of reasonable size, (I have never gone flying with either Peens or Rocky in one of their aircraft’s, but to be honest, I would rather take my chances with one of them on Tuesday, (on second thoughts, will take my chances with Rocky, not with Peens.)
Tomorrow we have to find safe storage for 7 months as we will only be returning in March next year.
I will do a final post tomorrow with a summary of my view on China, the Wi-Fi is very poor at our “Friendship Hotel” so I will only be posting a few more photos tomorrow.