Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Day 105 - The Long Journey Across the Border
Got woken up at 6:00 by someone playing loud music somewhere in the village and I was wondering if this is the usual wake up call here.It was a grey and rainy day so not great for hanging around Muang Khua.
The first task was to check out the boat to Hath Sa and see if it leaves and how long it takes. It turned out that it did in fact leave but would take 5-6 hours and then another hour or so in the bus to Phongsali.
This compared to the 100 km till Dien Bien Phu, which should be done by around lunchtime seemed too long so the decision fell in favor of heading back to Vietnam
One thing you quickly learn when traveling in Laos is that time is relative and that everything will take longer than you expect. The bus turned out to be about 2 hours late and since it was a local bus it was full with people and their bags (no chickens though), it was so full indeed that I was almost siting on the front dashboard and some people had to sit on the bags in the bus for the first leg of the journey.
The journey itself is pretty spectacular with some fantastic views over the mountains, despite being crammed in and the bus struggling to make it up the hill, it was a decent enough journey to Muang Mai where thankfully the majority of people disembarked and we had proper seats from there on to the border.
The border crossing took ages thanks to the Lao people each needing a special permit to leave the border but it was a much more enjoyable experience and I spent the time chatting with the immigration officers there.
After crossing the border it was a short 30 km to Dien Bien Phu but thanks to the roads here being far worse than back in Laos, the extra traffic and the bus driver making some special deliveries along the route it took almost two hours to reach Dien Bien Phu. By the time we finally pulled into the bus station it was almost 18:00 and dark.
Turns out the short journey across the border took almost 9 hours with delays and everything so there was no saving at all compared to just taking the boat to Hath Sa.
Other than checking into a guest house, having dinner (and late lunch) and going for a short walk there was not much i could see from Dien Bien Phu today.