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Ningbo Zhejiang, China to Chiang Rai, Thailand Jan 2015 to March 2015 - return

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by sinned, Dec 22, 2015.

  1. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    205
    Location:
    Kiwi in China, Australia, NZ & Thailand
    MCM thread with photos. I'll add photos here later today.

    East Ningbo, Zhejiang province, China - Chiang Rai, Northern Thialand Jan-March 2015

    Outbound
    Departure:
    30km east of Ningbo, PRC - 2015 January 2nd
    Arrival: Chiang Rai, Thailand - 2015 January 5th

    Inbound
    Return:
    Chiang Rai, Thailand - 2015 March 1st
    Arrival: 30km east of Ningbo, PRC - 2015 March 4th

    Distance:
    ~3,600km (Ningbo - Boten border crossing Laos).
    Total distance: ~25,000km+

    Bike:
    2014 650GS purchased in September '14

    Bike Accessories:

    Factory ABS, factory wire wheel rims, factory powerlet accessory plug, factory centre stand, factory heated grips, 20mm bar risers, Givi tall screen, headlight protector, bar mounted 12v accessory combined USB (x2) plugs, bar mounted Smartphone/device holder with adaptors, aluminium skid plate/sump guard, lower engine and upper fairing crash bars, ADV side stand extender plate, ADV alloy ABS bracket guards, Givi panniers and top box with brackets, LED riding spot lights (pair), rear splash guard flap, clip on tank bag & a whole host of little do-dads.

    Navigation:

    GarminXT on (x2) HTC HD2 WinMo 6.5 Smartphone's. I also had Mapking MapAsia GPS software with all maps of Asian countries including PRC but these are all date back to 2009 or thereabouts. I have a hard copy map of PRC in Pinying, but it's more than several years old. I did look at purchasing a Truckers map but they're only available in CHS.

    I prepared two HTC HD2 (T8585 - Leo) phones that I had flashed the ROMs of and ran everything so they were identical, operating the same apps, address books - everything. Unfortunately the GarminXT map of PRC was from 2012. Quite a bit of date given the speed of the changes going on in the middle kingdo0m. I have later maps, but the file size is 1.2GB and I found that my HD2's struggled a little with such a big map. If I removed/un-installed much of the apps/software I'm sure the maps would've operated faster. Unfortunately I need much of the software on the HD2 or more precisely software that operates on WinMo v6.5 OS.

    Utilising the HD2's as I had them configured the only real issue I had was that for some unknown reason both HTC HD2's lost satell!te connections in Kunming, GarminXT and MapKing lost satell!te reception and consequently I got lost there for ~4 hours riding round and round.

    Food:

    I packed, crackers and some pre-packed hot rice, meat and veggie meals (x6) which took up quite a bit of space in one of the Givi panniers. Crazily I only ate 3 the entire trip down, one nearing the end of the first 24 hours (January 3rd) at an Expressway petrol station someplace. Another about 24 hours later the morning I stopped at a road side pagoda some 30km north of Xishuangbanna (January 4th). The third meal I ate in the hotel in Xishuangbanna I stayed in.

    Motorcycle gear/clothing:

    Shark Evoline series 3 helmet (white).
    Jacket: Cycle Spirit multi-vent (German)
    Pants: HELD (German)
    Gloves: multiple pairs summer & winter gloves
    Mask: Respro anti-pollution mask with several replacement filters (needed!) (UK).
    Boots: ARCX Enduro (Ch!nese)

    <photo 1>

    Not a lot of photos this second trip especially for the leg inside Ch!na. I was focused on iron butting the distance to get as far as I could in the shortest possible time while also riding as economically as possible so I could keep the number of Expressway Service Centre refuelling stops to a minimum - thus hopefully decreasing my chances at being evicted from the Expressway. I carried 5L extra fuel.

    This is my second trip to ride in northern Thailand - which IMO is a 'mecca' for all things motorcycle and motorcycle riding. This was another reason that I also didn't take many photos this trip compared to my first. Despite having ridden round northern Thailand January 2014 covering some 15K km's+ for 7 weeks this second trip didn't disappoint and I will likely be departing again in another fortnights time to do it all over again.

    If anyone else is interested in joining me for all or part of the ride, PM me.

    The ride.

    <photo 2>

    Day 1:

    After a big breakfast, I departed from home 30km east of Ningbo riding local roads, a few highways through Xikou, Fenghua out to Shengzhou. At Shengzhou I turned south towards Yiwu. Before reaching Yiwu I turned toward the west and rode through the northern outskirts of Yiwu through a few towns before riding into the major mountain ranges to the west of Yiwu. Rode towards Sanlu which is north of Pujiang, then out onto the G320 which runs beside the S31.

    Riding from home to the G320 between Tonglu and Jiande took about 8hrs, compared with 3 hours if I'd taken the Expressway. Jiande is close to the tourist area of QianDao Hu (1000 island lake). I've ridden this leg literally hundreds of times, taking one of several routes (including the Expressway by car). I could have tried my luck entering the Expressway at any number of on-ramps, but I didn't fancy my chances closer to home. Most Expressway on-ramps are big and long. The one I entered near Jiande was small and quiet.

    The leg from home to Jiande, I only stopped for fuel. My loose plan was to ride out to Jiande and evaluate my options of either grabbing a hotel room beside the Lijiang river in Jiande or checking out a small two booth on-ramp north of Jiande onto the G25 Expressway. I arrived at the intersection to the G25 on-ramp and seized my chance. With only 2 booth on/off-ramps the toll stations were quiet and only one LHS on-ramp booth was open. I rode round the barrier of the obligatory RHS booth, and as I did so I heard a female attendants voice yelling something inaudible. I rode on regardless and took the left hand lane onto the Expressway overpass bridge which lead onto the Expressway travelling south. Fantastic... on, so far so good.

    <photo 3>

    The Expressway was my preferred route/means to cover the distances needed to get to Thailand. I know full well the condition of many of the alternative Highways and secondary roads that I'd otherwise have to ride on, and they are less than ideal.

    Expressway was a drone, but I was thankful to be on it as I knocked out the 'miles'.

    Once on the Expressway, I only stopped for fuel. My modus operandi was that as I covered 100-150km I would look for the next most opportune petrol station, despite knowing I had a range of approx a further 250-300km in addition to the 100-150km already covered. I preferred to have the fuel tank/bladder as full as often as I could - just in case.

    Some Expressway Service Centres were either busy or major stopping points. Some Service Centres had a greater 'Police' presence - I avoided those wherever possible.

    I carried everything needed to be self sufficient, including a 5L plastic fuel container - full (the red approved type available in most countries). In Guizhou (or it might have been the top of Guanxi) and Yunnan provinces, obtaining petrol on the Expressway was sometimes an issue. In parts of either province some Petrol Stations weren't able to provide me (the bike) with petrol as they didn't have the farkin Teapot. I was told at one such Station to proceed to the next Station down the road - (I think this was in Yunnan province where the Expressway sometimes merged with highways or some other weird amalgamation). I obliged and upon arriving at the next Petrol Station, all the staff got in a flap - although a pleasant flap. One of the young attendants went inside the big Synopec and came out with a new dust covered Teapot which she wiped clean, before proceeding to fill the obligatory 'pot'. Meanwhile I used my 5L plastic fuel container and proceeded to fill my bikes tank (which ironically fills via a filler on the LHS beside the pillion seat). Very little chance of any petrol fuelled fire caused by a hot engine as an ignition source on the smaller BMW GS models. Once my 5L of petrol was in, I then used the full 'pot' to refill it. Repeating this as needed. Only one Petrol Station proved almost insurmountable. The attendant wanted to fill my bike, at least that's my suspicion, but we spent 15 minutes or more as he proceeded to fill other car tanks, all the while looking over his shoulders frequently. Eventually I guess he got a sense that the coast was clear, and filled my bikes tank. I just shake my head at the logic free zone (LFZ).

    Unfortunately I didn't pack a bed-roll/tent - and I wish I had. Serious case of Monkey butt developed over the 48 hours of ~3000km. I slept uncomfortably for approx. 30 minutes after the first 20 hours (about 4 A.M.) in the shadow of a petrol station, perched on my bike seat. Yowsa! No matter which position I tried, Monkey butt stifled any attempt I made at getting any form of meaningful ZZzzeeeeessss! or REM sleep.

    I rode across quite a few crash scenes, mostly after the hours of darkness and in the wee small hours of the morning. Most were trucks, a few involved big truck and trailer units but mostly smaller 5-20 tonne trucks and all but 1 had rolled onto the side (roll overs). From memory all appeared to be single vehicle crashes. At all crash scenes, Traffic Police were in attendance and I must have looked quite the spectacle, appearing as a triangle of bright lights, only then to turn out to be a motorcycle with a rider with a white helmet and full green/yellow fluorescent jerkin, often not too indistinguishable from what many of the Police were wearing themselves. I just rode on through.

    I only had a couple of near misses with eviction with some Police at the provincial border toll crossings who attempted to intercept me as I rode out through the toll booths.

    Day 2 & Day 3:

    Often times I found it near on impossible to try and use the very RHS booth as there were 2 or 3 lines of trucks queued at the RHS toll booths. This presented a challenge a couple of times, since I was then forced to use an alternative toll booth, where the barrier arm poles are often longer (as most long-term PRC expats might appreciate) the RHS booth usually has a shorter barrier arm pole making navigating round the barrier easier. Only adding to an already difficult task was that I had a set of panniers albeit slimmer than normal/standard. Added to this was that I found that the mirrors on my GS were at a similar height as the barriers - when I was leaning my bike and bars attempting to manoeuvre round said barrier. At one or two of these provincial toll stations after passing through the booths I was chased down by one Police Officer or another on foot upon seeing me - I just rode on. While at other toll stations, one attendant even directed (helped) me as I was manoeuvring my bike alongside a truck and the lane through the booth.

    Kunming:

    The queues of traffic heading into Kunming, Yunnan were immense. The Expressway became confusing, as though the Expressway became at one with the Highway and vice versa. Making it into Kunming proper despite what seemed like hours to travel something like 10-20km or at least that was how it felt and how I remember it.

    As I got closer to Kunming I was making a mental note of landmarks and where I needed to turn. Zooming in and out of the GarminXT map. As I neared a lake in Kunming the GPS lost satell!te reception. It happens occasionally. I rode on, expecting the reception to resume. It didn't. I replaced that HD2 with my new HD2 and powered it on. Got GarminXT up and running but only after a short moment it too lost reception. I had a general sense of where I needed to be heading (toward Xishuangbanna), but I got confused multiple times.

    I rode on and off different Expressway entrances/exits, found the lake, but was it the correct lake? I became confused which way I should head in relation to the lake as when I zoomed in and out of the map there appeared more than one lake (so I questioned myself was it the correct lake?). I lost sense of my situational awareness. I rode round and round areas that became familiar after one too many visits. Rode along a new Expressway though I didn't recall entering through any tolls... beside or near a lake. The road (Expressway) was new, quiet and turned into an elevated bridge over a body of water from what I could work out. Getting a sense I was heading in the wrong direction I wanted to exit so I could ride on the opposite side in the direction from which I had come. I had to exit down a ramp where a toll booth sat. At the top of the ramp were two Police officers stood giving me a good visual as I approached, so I stopped and asked them 'Xishuangbanna'... that took like 30mins - or it seemed like it. 'No bikes' but you have to go that way (gesturing toward the other side of the Expressway), given this was a bridge and looked to be the only direct way back the way I came. I haggled and negotiated with them the best I could for permission to go back (using the other side). It seemed they gave somewhat of an approval or tired of me and lost interest. I rode down the ramp and out through the toll booth. I had to ride some distance away to be able to do a U-turn as there was a central divider which could only be crossed about 500m-1km away.

    Making the U-turn I approached the on-ramp on the other side and as I entered I was challenged verbally by the attendant in the LHS booth as I rode up the right of the RHS booth toward the closed barrier. The booth was not operating. I stopped. I could have ridden on, but I chose to stop. Discussions ensued. The booth operator was insistent that I couldn't ride on, I insisted I had to. The assistant stayed in her booth, but soon tired, she looked away disinterested - so I rode on. Somehow I found my way in the direction of the main Highway slash Expressway leading to Xishuangbanna. Leaving Kunming the GPS's found satell!te reception again.

    I surmise that there is something that interferes with GPS/navigational aids in Kunming. I'd wasted hours in Kunming. After Kunming getting petrol direct into the bikes tank/bladder returned to standard practice thankfully.

    <photo 4>


    Riding towards Xishuangbanna was surreal - mountains, rivers but I was riding late at night and into the early hours. I stopped a few times. Got gas at a surreal Petrol Station opposite a T-junction. There was a block of shops next door which shared the Petrol Station drive way. There was a big tree with a little garden in between and I attempted to find a shaded spot there in the shadows. It was like 1-3 A.M. I was tired, but my serious Monkey butt meant that try as I might getting sleep perched on the bike seat, it was near n impossible to get anything more than maybe 30 minutes of shut-eye. I started the bike and rode on. The closer to Xishuangbanna I got, I observed an increasing South East Asian influence. I noticed many of the kerbs near intersections, corners and bends etc coloured with red and white paint, a phenomenon often observed in many South East Asian countries. The nearer I got to Xishuangbanna tourist town (with a back-packer vibe sort of enclave) the more the geology and geography changed to reflect the warmer/tropical climate found in many parts of South East Asia. The foliage changed accordingly. On the last <100km into Xishuangbanna, the Expressway was more like a surreal country highway. There were places one could stop on the road side. I stopped at a kind of park. Well it had been a park, landscaped with gardens, a small disused building and a pagoda. I heated one of the meals and spent approx. 1-2 hours eating and allowing my serious case of Monkey butt rest. I brushed my teeth here, washed my face etc. My face was almost black from the grime of 48 hours and 3000km+ of riding.

    The signs to Xishuangbanna were great, a sense of relief, except as I got closer to Xishuangbanna. All road signs seemingly dispensed with Xishuangbanna and instead referred to Jinghong.

    I had to stop and check several times, zooming in and out of the Garmin map, panning here and there. Xishuangbanna is the major tourist town with a kind of Yangshou vibe (a former foreign backpackers mecca - now overrun by local travellers instead) near Guilin.

    At the last exit before Xishuangbanna I had stopped my bike on the Expressway/Highway on the chevron dividing the off-ramp and the Expressway. I was checking my whereabouts on the GPS when a Police car stopped behind me. The male Police Officer who'd been driving got out and walked up to me, accompanied by a female Officer. The male officer was turse and stated I should not be there, no motorcycles... the female was polite and nudged her male colleague. She asked me if I needed help? I pointed to the GPS and asked Xishuangbanna - where is it? She replied 'next exit' (last exit as it transpired). I thanked them and rode off, as they both walked back to the Police car. I got into Xishuangbanna at about 7 A.M.

    Xishuangbanna:
    Xishuangbanna sits opposite Jinghong divided by a river. Where Xishuangbanna is quite the bohemian tourist town - Jinghong is larger and quite unremarkable aside from 'its' chaos. Chalk and cheese IMO - maybe there's more to Jinhong aside from chaos? The Expressway just kind of ends in Xishuangbanna - there's no tolls as I recall. One rides of the Expressway into a large round-a-bout. Xishuangbanna enclave to the left. Jinhong staright ahead over a bridge. Xishuangbanna road layout is made up of perpendicular roads/lanes.


    I spent a few hours (to kill time) riding the streets in Xishuangbanna, as the little town started coming to life. I also searched out some hotels, and needed to kill time to approach the usual 'check-in' time. I found a 4 star Hotel which had some off street parking which appeared a bit of a premium in Xishuangbanna. I did like another Hotel (new which seemed popular with a younger affluent set) but no off street parking though the interior of the Hotel and the room was spot on - it was also a few hundred kuai cheaper. I chose the more expensive, checked in, unpacked the bike of luggage and after dropping my bags in the room, showered and caught up with a few hours of sleep.

    The night of 4th January I chatted with Prince666 who would wait for me on the Thai side at the Chiang Khong border. We talked through the different border crossings etc, reviewed the final leg out from Xishuangbanna out past Mengla to the PRC-Laos border town etc. We went through the various processes for the umpteenth time. We arranged a rough ETA (which as it transpired I failed to met). We walked our way using Google maps as well as my GarminXT while I was in the Hotel. I hadn't realised that my Garmin Ch!na map was missing the newer G213 & G8511 Expressway slash Highway. I'd input my destination 'the border' and thought all was good... little did I realise...

    The next day January 5th, I departed the hotel after having packed my bike and getting a big breakfast in. The breakfast area was beside a pool. I didn't have time, though the pool looked inviting. My plan was to ride the G213 Expressway down towards Mengla and then to the Ch!na-Laos border (known as Bolten Border Crossing on the Laos side).

    Attached Files:

    #1
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  2. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    205
    Location:
    Kiwi in China, Australia, NZ & Thailand
    Well little did I know that I was in for quite the ride over the next 12 hours...

    <photo 6>

    Day 4:
    Exiting the hotel, I rode out to the round-a-bout and there were a contingent of Police standing at the entrance to the Expressway I had ridden in on. There's no toll booths at this on-ramp. Apparently the Police stand across the on-ramp each and every morning for an hour or so at peak hour - to stop any e-bikes, motorcycles and other vehicles not allowed on the Expressway. I rode out and down beside the Expressway to the RHS on the road that travels down and round to the left underneath the Expressway overpass - so far so good.

    I remember coming to a fork in the road, I followed the Garmin map I had and what I had visualised in my mind the night before though this is where the confusion was to start. I should have taken the right fork I think. I took the left. This took me Northwest, back towards the second to last Expressway on/off-ramp. I jumped on it. I soon was travelling Northwest and I knew it. I passed semi familiar areas I had ridden coming into Xishuangbanna the morning before.

    <photo 5>

    I got off the Expressway, then back on... became a little disorientated as the reality was not fitting with what I had visualised and Prince666 and I had discussed the night before. I found what I thought was the road to Mengla as shown on my GarminXT map. Actually I did several circuits trying to make the reality fit with my visualisation and Prince666 instructions. Problem was it wasn't fitting.

    Increasingly frustrated I had back tracked to Xishuangbanna several times, but always ended up to this small deserted road over a small bridge traversing the Expressway miles Northwest of Xishuangbanna. It didn't fit with Prince666 description. Frustrated after an hour or more I took it. It was what my GarminXT map indicated.

    What I hadn't realised was that the 2012 Garmin map of Ch!na didn't have the G213 Expressway mapped nor was there any reference to the G8511. What I had viewed on Google maps in the Hotel room on my Laptop was not the same G213 I was viewing on my GarminXT, though I'd not realised this at the time. Google also doesn't have any reference to the G8511 - yet it exists.

    <photo 7>

    In the Goggle Maps snapshot <photo 7> it's pretty clear there are two G213 roads... one is fairly straight the other is a narrow mountain road with snake like twists and turns... fun, except that there were obviously trucks traversing the mountain passes, dropping a tandem trail of slick as snot water mixed with mud like substance behind 'em. There's no reference to the G8511 though!

    The ride was still really great except I was pushing time backwards without success. I had a schedule to keep but hadn't realised the error. The supposed 3-4 hour ride it should have taken in the G213 & G8511 Expressway (no tolls) down to the border at Mohan, took me almost double. I did stop a couple of times too on the mountain road - the old 213, once to catch some water from a road side waterfall. A local Ch!nese youngish guy maybe 25-35yo on a motorcycle who had stopped to fill a couple of containers with water. We got to talking. He was a teacher and spoke quite reasonable English. It was just pleasant to chat with someone in English for a change. We chatted for probably 20-30mins. At this stage unaware of my error I thought I was only an hour or so behind schedule.

    Later I again stopped as I ascended the crest of one of the mountain grades after I'd passed a female cyclist on a mountain-bike. Realising it was a foreigner, I stopped and turned round and got to chatting. The cyclist was a tourist, cycling her way through Asia for a few months. She was from the EU, about to embark on University having completed High School, so she was doing a two month trip abroad before she was going to be burdened with studies etc. The mountain old-213 highway road had taken a toll on her though, and she doubted if she could ascend too many more gradients. Leaving her, I rode on ahead and returned with the news that for the next several kilometres she would be descending instead.

    Bidding my farewell as I was coming to the realisation that time was of the essence if I hoped to make it to Thailand that day before borders closed etc. As I proceeded I got glimpses of a major highway down crossing between valleys over major viaducts. The further on I rode on the old 213 mountain road, the more frequently I saw this lower wider highway (as it turned out it was the Expressway G213 or G8511 I should have taken). Eventually in some sections the mountain road lay beside this Expressway (G213 or G8511) only divided by a fence or similar. I rode on. I stopped in a village/town, bought petrol - I must have looked quite the sight - not that I felt out of place. It's likely that at this village/town which was quite substantial had a few intersecting 'roads' bustling with activity. I didn't realise it, but the G213 / G8511 Expressway likely intersected some of these perpendicular roads. Because my GarminXT map didn't have the Expressway G213 or G8511 mapped, I didn't know this at the time. I stayed on the mountain road navigating using my GarminXT.

    Eventually the mountain road was beside the big multi-lane highway (Expressway G213 / G8511). There was a break in the fence and I rode all of 3-4m over a mound or two of dirt and prepared to ride onto the Expressway. Before I did, I checked and there was a Police car approaching. Fortunately the Police car turned into a driveway, probably a Police base, and it disappeared from view. I then rode out onto this big wide multi lane bitumen and concrete Expressway - it was obvious that this site had been a toll station at some point, though all structures had been removed.

    I rode on. The number of tunnels I rode through - quite staggering, though the number I would ride through on my return leg some two months later sticking to the G213 / G9511 Expressway from the border to Xishuangbanna was astounding.The road was pretty good too, but I had taken hours to get this far. I knew I was several hours behind schedule.

    Mengla:
    On the outskirts of Mengla the road became somewhat confusing once again. There were several intersections. All big and wide roads. Signs were conspicuous because of their absence. I made turns at intersections not knowing if I was correct or not. Often I turned back - rinse and repeat. Remember this Expressway G213 / G8511 which I was riding on, wasn't on the 2012 Garmin map I had. Frustrating.

    Onward to Mohan 磨憨 the border town.

    Attached Files:

    #2
  3. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    <photo 8>

    Mohan:

    Rode into Mohan 磨憨 which is the name of the border town to Boten Border Crossing (border name on the Laos side), riding the last couple of hours on the G8511.

    <photo 9>

    The G8511 is unusual as it is an Expressway yet it's a highway. There weren't any tolls. I suspect that it won't be before too long that this road will undergo a significant upgrade/transformation with the amount of traffic on the increase as the doors of progress open.

    <photo 10>

    Mohan Petrol Station is a few kilometres outside the town so it was a quick pit stop there to refuel before riding into Mohan. I planned to have a full tank and ride through Laos in several hours. No plan to stay in Laos, or certainly not to refuel - so didn't bother converting any CNY into Laos Kipp. I had some THB (Baht) remaining from my 2014 ride.
    Shops and businesses on each side of the road leading into Mohan, which reminded me a little like a boulevard as I rode into town.

    <photo 11>

    I kept riding straight ahead and rode up to a round-a-bout outside the PRC border buildings. The main building I needed to head for was on the RHS of the road. I rode up the kerb onto the footpath and parked my GS beside a set of stairs leading into the Immigration building.

    Mychinamoto member Prince666 had already briefed me to turn left just inside the entrance. Just inside the doorway there were a couple of cubicles with an official looking guy (uniformed) seated in one cubicle, though he didn't seem to be doing too much. It wasn't possible to immediately turn left inside the doorway. Instead I had to walk forward then turn between the two cubicles which from memory was the only entry into the area to the left of the entrance. It might seem intimidating for the unfamiliar given the presence of the official. Having turned left ,at the far end wall were Immigration counters, officers etc. with the obligatory queues of people heading via Immigration to Laos.

    In this section were the various immigration and customs application forms. Some forms on a counter up against the wall and window over looking where I had parked my bike. Other forms were located nearer the immigration counters.

    Big props to a fellow 'mychinamoto' member - Prince666 as we had discussed where various forms were located that needed to be completed to get both myself and my motorcycle out through the border crossing.

    Photos of the forms (edited) are provided in post #4 that follows.

    Once I had my forms completed, I stood in the immigration queue, eventually went through the procedure and once completed turned round and walked back out the way I came in. - I had my bike on the Ch!nese (Mohan)side. If I had walked through past immigration as everyone else had done, I would effectively have been on the other side in no man's land. I would imagine that this would lead to bedlam in the peak season (New Year and the Spring Festival).

    Back outside, I started the bike and rode it to the Customs gate where I handed over completed forms along with my Passport, vehicle registration documents etc.

    Forms stamped and handed back I was through PRC Customs. Rode off into no man's land - the area between Mohan Border (PRC) and Boten Border crossing (Laos).

    <photo 12>

    Attached Files:

    #3
  4. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Documents required at the Mohan, Yunnan, PRC Border to Boten Border Crossing, Laos.

    Form 1: Keep this document if you intend to return to PRC. The document is stamped once on the way out of PRC, and then again on the way back in through the PRC border. The document is then retained by you. One can reuse this form/document on subsequent excursions in and out of the country through Mohan - so long as there is enough room for the exit/entry stamps. I still have my original form, so I'll attempt to reuse it - one less form/document to find and complete.

    Form 1 is shown with front and reverse sides.

    Form 4 is new, and was needed for a car - it has CHN in big red letters on the front. Unsure if this form/document applies to motorcycles.

    Attached Files:

    #4
  5. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    205
    Location:
    Kiwi in China, Australia, NZ & Thailand
    <photo 18>

    Mohan -> Boten:
    Rode from Mahon Border to the Boten Border Crossing which is approx 1km (no man's land). On the Laos side the Immigration and Customs are housed in two separate buildings some distance apart from one another. At immigration I went inside the building, got a form from one window and completed the required sections. After dealing with immigration it was back on the bike and off to Laos Customs in a different building down the road Laos Highway 13. One passes through Boten border town where there is a new Duty Free store and Casino.

    The distance between Boten to Laos Customs is a further 6 kilometres.

    First Petrol Station was on the Southern side of the Boten Border Crossing (near immigration), appeared quite new and big but basic - I was all good for petrol. Close to a full tank plus my additional 5L strapped to the pillion seat. I figured I was good for petrol.

    Between the Laos Immigration and Laos Customs there is a small shack (actually it was a small marquee with a desk/table and a few chairs) on the RHS just off the roadway where one is meant to stop and buy the compulsory insurance. I stopped and bought insurance for the GS for either 1 month or more (I can't recall). I paid in RMB since I hadn't obtained any Laos currency (Kipp). Since I only had 100kuai notes, I over paid the insurance (we did the currency conversion on a calculator). The over payment was insignificant as far as I was concerned - just to have the peace of mind in the event of either a crash or being stopped by Police. The latter is fairly frequent by all accounts, Police stopping foreign plated vehicles to check paperwork is in order especially the insurance and well... I'm certain one knows how that might go with corruptible officials etc. I wasn't stopped at all during my ride through Laos in either direction.

    Rode into Boten town, which is renowned for being a seedy gambling town increasingly serving the Ch!nese gamblers. Must be all hidden off of Hwy 13 as I didn't see much of anything fitting the description aside from the new Duty Free store & Casino right on Highway. There was also a large open area full of trucks. A few stores on either side of the highway. Honestly though I wasn't hanging round as I was hours behind schedule.

    <photo 19>

    Formalities completed continued on riding. I didn't have any GarminXT maps of Laos, though I had some directions. Follow Hwy 13 South. Watch for Hwy AH3 at Netuy junction on the right heading South.

    <photo 20>

    Found AH3 turning to the right at Nateuy. Nice twisties from Nateuy through Houaydam following the Western river bank. Passed AH3A and AH17A turn-offs to Luangnamtah on the RHS, before riding into Namha National Park for some very tight twists and corners. A few Chinese plated trucks hadn't been so successful negotiating some of the bends! The twisties didn't end at the edge of the National Park.

    Lots of little villages a long the way, and many children of all ages playing or standing round outside shacks and houses on poles. What really struck me was the eager smiles & friendliness of the children - many of whom would wave frantically as I rode past them. Unfortunately I didn't have time to stop, and certainly even if I had allowed myself to do so - I was none to prepared. Nothing exceptionally tantalising to offer young hands, minds or mouths. The return trip was no different. Smiles aplenty and waves to satisfy the soul.

    Chiang Khong Bridge Border Crossing:
    Nearing Chiang Khong Bridge Border Crossing over the famous Mekong River, it was nightfall. A set of traffic lights at the Hwy 3 Mokachok intersection, the first I had seen since well... Jinghong, Xishuangbanna actually.

    AH3 turns right (West) here which would take the unwary to the old Laos-Thai border ferry crossing at Bokeo. There is a PTT Petrol Station in that direction at Oudom, not far from the Hwy 3 traffic light though if it's needed - I was still on the GSs main tank.

    At the traffic lights, I was waiting on the red, when one guy rode up behind me slowly on a non-descript MC, calling out, Nia Hao, Nia Hao (hello, hello in Mandarin). Once he rode up beside me, he realised I was a long nose (foreigner), he smiled 'sheepishly' - we smiled at one another - he pulled a U-turn and rode off down AH3 in the direction of Oudom. Light turned green so I rode on straight ahead. Here the area was bathed in modernity - lots of street lights. I was nearing the Laos side of the Chiang Khong border.

    <photo 21>

    [Prince666 and I had visited the new border crossing buildings in Jan/Feb 2014 before the border crossing was fully operational. At that time, motorcycles were to be excluded from being able to cross at this point over the new PRC/Laos/Thai funded bridge. This would mean that motorcycles had to continue crossing at the aforementioned Laos-Thai border ferry crossing at Bokeo. Subsequently though things have changed, sometimes motorcycles still have to cross at Laos-Thai border ferry crossing at Bokeo, but only the motorcycle while the rider has to find his/her way to cross at the 'new' bridge. It's quite some distance between the bridge and Laos-Thai border ferry crossing at Bokeo].

    At the Laos Border, the officials were friendly enough, though they were trying to convince me that I should stay in Laos for the night, and cross in the morning, since the Thai border wouldn't likely accept me. I on the other hand was attempting to convince them to let me cross the bridge which had seen motorcycles banned when it first opened to allowing MCs across with an escort - albeit at an inflated rate of 100kuai. Yes, they were willing to take RMB. I told the officials that the Thai border side were expecting me. I made sure to pull out a crisp new 100kuai note and make sure it was visible. This was a psychological ploy on my part. One to show that I was willing to play the game, and that they knew I knew what the game was. The rate for a motorcycle to cross one way or the other is 100kaui (a kuai = a reminbi (RMB) = Chinese yuan - the terms are interchangeable). 100kuai = 500THB (I paid the 100kuai on the Laos side and ~2 months later, 500THB on the return ride). The cost for a car to cross the bridge is about 10% of the prices bikers are being gouged. Still beats being forced to use the ferry...

    Eventually the Immigration officials relented, and some haggling between the blokes resulted in one of them getting on a little 125cc moto and leading me onto the bridge over the Mekong river to the Thai side, well as far as where the roads criss-cross; the right lane crosses over to the left side & vice-versa. At this point the escort said goodbye and I rode on alone to the Thai Border checkpoint.

    As I approached the Thai border facilities I saw Prince666 shiny noggin from a distance... he'd been waiting on and off for quite a few hours apparently... gawd bless...

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  6. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

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  7. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

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  8. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

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  9. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

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  10. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

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  11. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

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  12. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

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  13. eemsreno

    eemsreno Super Tenere Rider.

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    Sinned
    Thanks for the link over to this.
    I can't even imagine riding in a country like this and not speaking anything but English.
    I'll have to stick to N. America.
    #13
  14. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

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    Yes not many Chinese people in China speakng English, even the very small percentage that have the ability don't have any significant comprehension let alone an appreciation for nuances etc.
    #14