Day 78: Goodbye China hello to SE Asia.

3 October 2010

High Points: Zipping through the China and Laos borders in no time at all and the road of many children to Luang Prabang.

Low Points: Goodbyes.

Author’s comments: Today was border day, and through past experiences these need to be had early. With this in mind we departed our hotel in the pitch black at 6.45am, and drove the short distance to the China – Laos border. After watching the impressive flag raising ceremony from the Chinese side we elbowed our way through the melee and Paul and I were out of China within twenty minutes. Steve had the task of bringing Martha out and amazingly thanks to the mountains of paperwork Navo and Sun Ji had prepared they followed shortly behind. The entry into Laos couldn’t have been more comical; it was like stepping into the nursery rhyme Old McDonald had a farm. After a bit of chat and some strange looks, we located the passport stamping zone. Next was the insurance documents for Martha, $10 and a big smile seemed to do the trick, so much so we were awarded with three cans of larger, our first test?

The drive to Luang Prabang was quite simply stunning. A narrow partially made up road (Route 13) snaked it’s way through endless tropical jungles and mountain sides. Although not for the faint hearted (I’m sure I saw Paul cover his eyes on more than one occasion) this has to be one of the drives of the trip so far. It was a world away from the super expressways in China and gave us all the opportunity to see this amazing part of the world really close up. It was a fascinating eight hours and about every 10km we would drive through small villages where we were greeted with the shouting and waving of children. I have honestly never seen so many children and for every adult we saw there must have been twenty or so children all going about their daily chores.

Goodbyes – Today has been filled up with a lot of goodbyes which makes me sad. Firstly goodbye to Sun Ji our Chinese guide who really has become part of the crew. His amazing patience (particularly with me), determination, and sense of humour have all contributed massively to the success of stage 3, I really don’t think we could have done China without him, particularly the borders, and we certainly wouldn’t have had so much fun. Sun Ji – a big thank you from all of us. Secondly, goodbye to China, goodbye to being national superstars. Where else are we going to be stopped by 15 people to have our photo taken for just walking down the street? Where else are we going to appear on TV or be on the front page of a national newspaper? China is amazing for its sheer size and diversity, but above all the Chinese people have been awesome and have welcomed FTFE with open arms. And now finally goodbye from me, after roughly three months on Martha and this amazing expedition it’s time for me to depart. Stage 3 (Beijing – Laos) is now complete and we are looking forward to welcoming three new crew members for stage 4 (Laos – Singapore) which begins tomorrow. It really has been a wonderful three months, tough at times but full of so many wonderful memories I will always keep. I wish Steve and the crew all the best, keep on rolling and keep on smiling.


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One Response to “Day 78: Goodbye China hello to SE Asia.”

  1. Beer Laos is awesome! Laos is amazing, very jealous!