03.07.2010 - 03.07.2010 36 °C
We crossed the border crossing at Don Kralor at 4pm on July 3rd. On the way there we had ran out of fuel and there was no gas station to be seen anywhere. Luckily, we always carry an extra jerry can of fuel and some oil, so it was not a problem.
Although the working hours are officially from 8am to 6pm, everything later than 3.30pm counts as ‘overtime’ and people wishing to cross the border therefore have to pay $1 extra. All went smoothly on the Cambodian side and after a health check on the Lao side we had to show our visa and obtain the entry and exit card. This already proved to be slightly more difficult since none of the ten immigration offices had any staff in them. After a while a guy showed up. He looked as if he had just been woken up from a nice little nap and was still buttoning up his shirt and doing up his pants as he already asked for my passport. We also paid for ‘overtime’ and some other inexplicable charges before he told us to head down the road for 1 km to the Customs Office to obtain the necessary legal documents for the TukTuk.
Now the funniest part started! When we arrived at the ‘Customs Office’ we found it guarded by a herd of cows that only moved out of the way very unwillingly. The actual office was completely deserted; the only thing that indicated its existence was a table and a sign ‘Customs Office of Laos PDR’. It turned out that the staff was having a party behind it. They had installed huge disco speakers, set up a whole bar and were busy drinking Beer Lao and playing boule. They seemed to take no notice of us. Finally, one guy yelled something and a few minutes later someone appeared. Again, he looked like he had been asleep and was still getting ready. He took our motorbike registration card and told us to wait in the ‘office’. After a while he motioned me to come somewhere else. He took what seemed to be an eternity to fill out an A5 form and then, with his alcoholic breath asked for a fee seven times the amount of what it said on the sheet of paper he handed to me. It was obviously his monthly beer money, but given the circumstances, we thought it better to pay it and leave with the TukTuk. After a few kilometers the next adventure followed; suddenly, a huge pop sounded and our rear bike tire had burst. Although we were in the middle of nowhere, we were lucky to find a woman selling tires on the road. Our air pump had gone astray so she told us that the hairdresser - three houses down the road - could fix it for us. Now we have a sturdy new tire and all the tools to fix the next flat tire ourselves.