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Sunday, 3 March 2013

"I LOVE THAILAND & LAOS" RIDE - DAY 8

 13TH FEB 2013: VANG VIENG – VIENTIANE – NONG KHAI (200KMS) 



I woke up around 5.30am. The electricity has recovered. The first thing I did was to search for the pouch. I checked my backpack, searched under the bed, inside my jacket and everywhere, but I couldnt find it. Perhaps it’s in my panniers. I performed subuh prayer first and after that checked the panniers. The pouch was not there either. My heart sank. I started to curse myself for forgetting to activate my ATM (visaplus) and my credit card before I started the ride. I normally activate the cards before I started my travel, but this time I forgot. 



I tried to recall when was the last time I see the pouch. If memory served me well, I remembered that the last time I held the pouch was before I had my shower yesterday morning, at the GH in Luang Prabang. I remembered that I first put the pouch on the TV table, but I hesitated (since the table was black in colour, and so was the pouch). I’m afraid I might not see it later, so I took the pouch and put it on the floor, next to my backpack. Then I had my shower. I cant recall putting the pouch back in my backpack. Perhaps I might hv mistakenly leave it in the room? (But very strange since I always practised checking my room thoroughly before checking out). Perhaps Allah had blinded my vision from seeing it bcos someone else need the money more than me? Or perhaps someone entered my room in Vang Vieng when I went out to the reception (only for a while) to ask for the wifi password? For god’s sake, I hv no idea  and I dont hv the answer. 



What should I do now? I am thousands of miles away from home, and I have only Kips which were equivalent to RM75. If I’m not with DREAM, I can always purchased a flight ticket online using my credit card and fly back home. But now, I am with DREAM. I cant leave him behind. We came together, and we’ll go home together. What must I do? WHAT MUST I DO? 



Okey, now is not the time to panic, Anita....calm down....you know that you cant think straight in a tense situation. Relax, take a deep breath, smile, listen to your favourite song, eat yr breakfast, and after that think of a solution. 

So, I did just that, and I updated my status in FB, only to realize how many friends were sooo concern about me. Bro Seow, sis Azliena Baharin and my sister Are Nim even inbox me offering to gv me money. I thanked them for their kindness. Its not that I dont hv any money at all. I do hv money in my savings, but I couldnt withdraw the money as I didnt activate my card. That was my biggest mistake. 

Anyway, I packed my things and before checking out, I spoke to the Lao girl (the gf to the GH owner) about the missing pouch and money. She helped me to call Sysomphone GH and asked them about it. They said their cleaners didnt mention anything about finding anything left by the guest, but they promised to check with their cleaners again about it. I left my number to the girl and checked out. First, I try to find an IDD shop where I can make an overseas call. I found one and make a call. The bank officer (as always) asked too many security questions that I cant help shouting at him, telling him that I am in an undevelop country (Laos) and I hv lost my money....I hv only RM75 left and if he’s so keen to know about me, do it once I’m back in Malaysia and he can ask as many security questions as he liked. If he’s forever asking me questions, I might ends up finishing all the RM75 to pay for the call without him able to activate my card, so stop asking too much and activate my card RIGHT NOW!!! That put him on act instantly. After that, I try to find an ATM machine which has visaplus, but since Vang Vieng is a very small town, there wasnt any that I could find. 

I checked my fuel and made some calculations. I last refuel yesterday at Luang Prabang, and I had rode 226kms. Through my experience, if I rode DREAM slowly, he can manage up to 400kms before his tank dry up. Vientiane is 160kms away, meaning that I can arrive (hopefully) without the need to refuel. So I gambled and rode on, riding 75kmh maximum speed. The road was still winding but no climbing. Certain parts were under construction, so I cant speed anyway. The view was quite nice too. 



The farming vehicle most dominant in Laos 

With the slow ride, I only managed to reach Vientiane after 3 hours of riding. Surprisingly, DREAM still had a quarter tank of fuel left. I found an ATM machine with visaplus, and try to withdraw some money. Once my ATM card entered the slot, the machine suddenly stopped responding. I waited for about 30 seconds and when instinct told me that this is not good, I punched the cancel button repeatedly. Thank god the ATM machine didnt swallow my card and I got it back. Since I still hv some fuel left, I made up my mind that I will only withdraw money from an ATM machine in Thailand. I am very confident that the fuel can last until Nong Khai (the border town in Thailand). 

I went for sightseeing in Vientiane such as visiting Patuxay, the Malaysian Embassy (but I didnt enter as I think I can manage my own problem), Wat Chedi Luang, the Mekong Promenade and the President Palace. 


Patuxay






Wat Chedi Luang

The Presidents Palace
Malaysian Embassy in Vientiane
Mekong Promenade
Independant Monument

Then I made my way to the border, stopping first at a money changer to change my remaining kips to Baht. It was about 20kms to the border and I rode slowly. I was quite confused in the beginning on where to find the customs office but I found it after asking a policeman. There were many people from both countries (Laos and Thailand) making the crossing, however I managed to settle my exit smoothly even though this border was new to me. I rode on the Friendship Bridge, and upon entering Thailand, I hv to ride on the left side again (feeling funny after I hv adapted to riding on the right side). Entering Thailand via Nong Khai was smooth as well. I hv to pay B200 to bring DREAM in. The immigration and custom officers spoke good English. 



Once everything settled, I headed straight to the train station. I hv planned to take a train from Nong Khai to Ayuthaya, as I hv rode route 12 twice during my earlier part of this trip, so I dont want to waste time to repeat and ride on the same road again for the 3rd time. Nong Khai train station has changed so much since the last time I took a train here (heading to Bangkok in 2007). The train officer can speak understandable English and after checking on the price to transport DREAM on the train, I went out to find an ATM machine with visaplus. Thank god I managed to withdraw some money this time. 


I went back to the train station, settled the payment for DREAM and my ticket (B1400) and just relaxed at the station, enjoying the free wifi. I didnt refuel DREAM here as he still had a little fuel left in his tank. The train departed at 6.20pm sharp. I couldnt get a peaceful sleep bcos of the very annoying noises from the food seller  every time the train stops at a station.


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NASTIA

Band: NASTIA, Title: ANGGUR (taken from EP 'EKSPRESI')
HAK CIPTA ANITA YUSOF