DAY 47 6:30am I did not sleep a wink last night. Not wanting to court any shenanigans I caught a bus the 30km to drop me off on the other side of the Chinese border. Heavy rainfall created massive mudslides that had blocked sections of the border bound road…where and how the authorities came from […]
I did not sleep a wink last night. Not wanting to court any shenanigans I caught a bus the 30km to drop me off on the other side of the Chinese border. Heavy rainfall created massive mudslides that had blocked sections of the border bound road...where and how the authorities came from to clear these mountains of mud and rock so effectively and quickly is beyond me.
We reached the Laos border, myself and the peeps pile off the bus to get our Visas stamped...I am last in the queue. The Laos border was slightly shanty, a stark contrast to the massive, almighty, Golden Shrine arching over the road leading to the grand Chinese border control off in the distance. The Laos military clad officer leafed through my passport very intensely, he then looked up at me..."Where stamp when come Laos". My passport thanks to the cleaning lady back in Luang Numtha got whipped up amidst the bedding and given a good wash...it now looks quite Psychedelic.
'Military clad officer' with my passport was not joking, I quickly realised this wasn't funny and that all I was to him was a pound sign. He started shouting and making a scene...staring me down.Storming out of his chair he pointed to the end of the building where I met him to be marched into the head honchos office. Absolutely no one around spoke English or no one let on they did, yet this charming fella knew how to say "500 dollars or back to Vientianne" to get my Visa re-stamped. This was obviously a volatile situation for me, I try to explain that my passport had a few spins in the washing machine...I try to tell them to call the Vientianne border to clarify my passage through last Thursday. He wanted his money and it was becoming clear he was also the thorn in his fellow workers sides. The dynamic was obvious, "Head Honcho" had to stand by him, yet no one else would look me in the eye... fair enough my stamp could not be found but all it would take was a call to Vientiane and the situation would be resolved. I had been in the office for 40 minutes when I had to mention I was on a bus with passengers waiting..." can I be excused" so as to inform them of the situation. With my passport in his hand he waved me off.The Charming officer followed me out... I beckoned him closer and whispered that I have an ipod... I offered it to him, the charming fellow nodded and agreed, I headed off to get it for him.
All I had on me at the time was my passport and bankcard...my video cameras, equipment and everything else were on the bus... which quel surprise! had decided to leave without me. UNBELIEVABLE!
So charming man had revealed his crookedness to me and thanks to his rank nature I was left with only the clothes on my back...I was far from happy.
I stated to the charming crook.
He went back to Head Honchos office, I sat on a step and had a think...
a pickle this was...hes a crook,no one spoke English,what could I do, I was powerless.
I walked into Head Honchos office, took my passport out of his hand and made the gesture of a phone call saying "Vientiane", I then walked off, slyed my way behind the toll gate and stormed forward to check if the bus had just parked up at the Chinese border. Cue wild shouting! I turn to see crook and 2 officers chasing after me, I promptly turn back and walk confidently toward them " YOU GO AND CHECK IF BUS IS AT CHINA BORDER"...as we stood their ranting and misunderstanding every word each other were saying I notice the little fella who accompanied my bus driver leaning on a railing next to the toll gate...he waved, sweet relief waved over me. I left the officers to rant some more and walked over to explain to the little fella I was in a spot of bother and if he could go and get my bags for me, which were now in China. Once crook and his crew were inside the little fella prompted me to just follow him ..."it ok " he said, even the guy at the toll gate waved me through, this just compounded my thoughts on the crooks standing in the camp as a thorn. I thought about it for a split second but did not like the possible repercussions of such a risk. The little fella went off to get my bags as I sat in the middle of 2 officers on a wooden pew out the back of the compound.
I will not do that journey through the Laos jungle only to come back again...NO WAY!and I was certainly not going to give crook any money...I don't have it. So fingers crossed he would take the ipod and I could get the Thumb out past the Chinese border.
Due to the whole sour saga I hadn't had chance to look for the stamp myself. I sat their, forehead crinkled, eyes focused searching through the psychedelic notebook that is now my passport.
"GET IN" !
The 2 officers either side of me jumped, their it was as faint as you could get, but it was their. '28 June 2012 / 27 july2012 Trying my hardest not to look smug I walked into Head Honchos office, crook studied it, Head Honcho didn't want to know and the 3 officers he brought in to scrutinies it all verified its legitimacy. 'Sweet relief' again. As I was filling in the forms 3hrs on from getting off the bus the little fella and an old woman were lugging my bags down for me... I looked at them beaming, gesturing stamping an imaginary passport, they both laughed and looked up at the heavens. The toll gate guy acted out that I should iron my passport as I lumped my bags toward the arched golden shrine to China.
I felt bad when I saw the bus had been waiting all that time on the otherside. I noticed that my camera and all the equipment which I had left in a separate bag on the back seat of the bus were still on the seat and not with my rucksack and guitar... an innocent mistake that could of proven to be very upsetting. I gave the little fella my ipod and bought everyone on the bus a can of coke in a lame attempt at an apology.
The bus dropped me off at 'Jing Jong'... i managed an hours sleep. I was in China yet too tired to be excited - more fatigued, weary and non plussed about the ordeal of getting to immediate grips with a new currency, new culture, getting a letter translated in Chinese explaining why and what it is I am doing, only to then find the right road outta their and get the Thumb out to make ground. I get in a tuk tuk who I thought understood my request...No!. He dropped me off at a hostel, thankfully the owner spoke English and all of the above was sorted. 200km north is Pu' er.
I am on my way. Jing Jong looked beautiful and China so far looked stunning. A huge contrast from Laos, the architecture the people, the style...everything. I rolled into Pu'er around 9pm, I have absolutely no clue what 'Trevors' reals name was who gave me a lift, his sound nature did all the talking.