We had a short ride to do today so a leisurely breakfast and packing of the bike had us on the road from the S Park Design Hotel (US$63 per night) by around 9.00am
The GPS was playing up trying to send us on a route over 300km when we really only needed to travel around 80km. But Vince in his intrepid style “winged” it as we could see the Friendship Bridge with Thailand on the other side of the Mekong River. The Laos side of th borde was a little haphazard with not a lot showing in English to assist us, but we managed with some officials pointing us towards the correct windows to get our passports stamped as well as the paperwork for exporting the ANIMAL out of Laos……I wouldn’t say it was an easy or streamlined process but in the scheme of things not too bad. Unfortunately, the Thai side was nothing short of a dog’s breakfast. There were signs in English but not a lot of it made sense. There were many windows numbered up to 10, with some including A’s and B’s etc……they didn’t run in sequence and there were several saying “Visa on Arrival”……very confusing! After unsuccessfully lining up a couple of times, and having to let some locals know just exactly where the end of the que was (as many thought it ok to just push to the front) we eventually found our way to No 7 were we had to get forms to fill in along with a form for the importation of the ANIMAL…we we’re then told to go to No 6 and then to 5. After lining up at 6 we were told NO…..we had to go to 5 first…so off we went. Vince got through ok but when it was my turn the officer demanded money (which we didn’t have in THB) ….I asked what the fee was for but it was never explained. I told her we had no Thai money, only Kip, which she made clear she didn’t want….. so Vince went to find an ATM. She told me to stand aside and I refused, as she still had my passport! She told me that I couldn’t have it back until I paid the money, and I said that was fine but as there was no signage with fees or rates and I had no money at this point…… I was still not moving aside until I had my passport…..other westerners in the line start had also asking about the reason for the money as well….suddenly I found myself being handed back my passport, fully stamped, and she waved me away! I caught up with Vince and we still went to the ATM so we had some local money anyway. I am not sure if the fee was legitimate or a scam……we certainly got scammed at the last border crossing from Thailand……corruption is very evident at times….no explanation, or if one is given it doesn’t make sense, no formal evidence of a fee scale etc and certainly no receipts or paperwork for the transactions!
We road into Thailand and were stopped at two different police checkpoints …..Vince was teasing me that we were boarder runners and their must be an APB out on me…..which of course was all nonsense and we passed through them without any problems at all.
Vince had organised for us to stay at the Centara Hotel, right next to the Central Plaza shopping centre and walking distance to Bangkok Hospital Udont Thani ….the hotel was lovely and on special only A$53 per night…..the lap of luxury….I could get used to this! We had lunch in the shopping centre at Santa Fae Steakhouse…..no match for the one we had in Le Vendome in Vientiane! We also booked our tickets to see Star Wars The Force Awakens at the cinema at 8.10pm.
I had a wander around the shops and Vince gave me a belated Christmas gift of a bottle of perfume……feeling very spoilt! We bought 3 external hard drives …. as our laptop is almost full and we need to back things up and post them home….a time consuming job over the next few days!
Dinner was at the Pizza Company and then we went to catch the movie….all very civilised! Star Wars was good to see on the big screen…true to the original Star Wars!