After a week in Bangkok (working!), I finally went to the airport to collect my much missed XT. Using my agent in Bangkok made this pain free and I was soon back on the road (even if the police manning the toll booths thought I shouldn't have been!). The windscreen and numberplate were both broken from the flight and some moron in UB had cut off one of the velcro straps on my panniers rather than undoing it, so I had to improvise a repair. Also, oddly, the fuel gauge no longer works. Otherwise, the bike was sound (as usual; great bike the XT) and I was on my way to Pattaya.
Afyer a day of drinking way too much and I headed north to Chiang Mai via Ayuthayya. The Thai roads are generally very good, especially after Mongolia, and I made good time to the north, experiencing only a couple of torrential downpours on the way. Just enough to cool down in the heat and humidity of Thailand. I spent a few days in Chiang Mai but soon headed north again as I heard a monsoon was sweeping into the south, so it was on to the border with Laos at Chiang Khong.
The crossing from Thailand to Laos was a total cock-up. As I was stamped out of Thailand, I was given a form by the Thai immigration to give to the Lao immigration to allow me to import the bike. I boarded the ferry (no bridge......yet!) with all the trucks and set off across the Mekong to the Lao side. First problem was gridlock on the slipway into the country which the truck in front of me got stuck on, with no way around. When that was finally sorted, I found the customs office only to be told to go back to Thailand as they hadn't stamped the form they had given me to export the bike. So, back on the ferry and back across the Mekong to get the stamp. Landed at a different dock this time and I had to walk through the town (I had already been stamped out of Thailand, but I could have easily wandered anywhere without a problem) to find the customs man. Finally with my paperwork in order, I crossed the Mekong for a third time to try and enter Laos. The bike documents were now in order, but it took another hour for me to find the place to get my passport stamped as I had landed at the freight dock rather than the passenger one and didn't know where to go. This is a somewhat relaxed border, and very porous.
Eventually back on the road by early afternoon for the beautiful ride to Luang Namtha, close to the Chinese border where I should have crossed into Laos! Spent the next few days meandering back south through the stunning Lao countryside. Bumped into Lorraine at one point riding up the other way. Laos is a great place to ride a motorbike!
Soundtrack: Levellers - Beautiful Day