9th November – Mukdahan

11 Nov

 

One UK pound is about 49 Thai baht.

Diesel is around 30 baht and petrol 34 baht.

Our camp spot by the plane was on the Mekong just by the Friendship Bridge and so to loop around to the border was only a couple of km’s. We passed through the Laos side very easily and although they seemed totally unfamiliar with the carnet, they were ok stamping and signing at the places I pointed at. As normal with the Laos people, all done with a beaming smile. They are lovely people, kind, gentle and however modest their lifestyle, happy and generous. They have had a tough time for all sorts of reasons, but there is no hint of bitterness and they truly seem to enjoy life. Maybe it is because they have been through so much that they appreciate what they have now.

The Thai  border post is very modern and smart, which is immediately on the other side of the bridge. There is a crossover here as they drive on the ‘correct’ side of the road in Thailand! The first time that we have driven on the left since leaving England.

On arriving at the Thai side we filled in the arrival card and as we had the visa, were sent straight through to Customs. We encouraged them to stamp the carnet, although they did not really know what it was. The fact that they could see what the Laos customs had completed made it easier to explain. They had waved us on before another official stopped us and said that it is very important that we have a form called the ‘Information of Conveyance’, also called a TM2. Without it it is supposed to be difficult to exit. If you would like to see what it looks like let us know as we have photographed the document.

Marjool was really excited as we were told that there was a Tesco with all the things that she had dreamed of … chocolate, cakes, biscuits, cheese, fresh milk ….. funny how little we appreciate the variety of food available at home! Just imagine her face when she saw the shelves ….. !!

However as we moved through the aisles there was plenty of things to tempt us. The poor souls whose houses have been flooded are having a really tough time. In Bangkok it is apparently difficult to get anything, including safe drinking water. They are saying here that a third of Thailand is under water … hard to believe. We had not realised how bad it was, as we have not been seeing news or reading news papers.

Outside of Tesco we met a Scot called Mick  who had lived in Thailand for years. He saw that we were driving a Toyota and asked if we had met Edith. She owns the Toyota dealership and is a local magistrate. We needed insurance and she sounded so nice that we decided to go along and check out the price of an oil change. We were quoted the equivelent of 5o pounds to change the oil and filter and adjust the fan belt. As the oil cost 30 pounds in Russia and a filter 15 pounds in the Uk, it seemed an excellent deal! They checked various other fluids and gave it a really good clean.  They were very efficient and professional and were incredibly polite and friendly. I would strongly recommend a pit stop there if you are driving a Toyota.

 

 

 

The car looked new as the mechanics drove it out of the washing area, they had even blacked the tyres. It looked like a different car!

We were picked up from Toyata by Noy, a friend of our host’s girlfriend. We were going to stay the night outside his house and next to the community swimming pool. Sounds great!

 

 

In the evening, Noy took us to the night market, a nice restaurant on the bank of the Mekong and then finally to a western (as in cowboys!) bar where they had a band playing. The bar staff were dressed in cowboy gear complete with guns. We played pool and darts with the staff. Great fun and good band.

 

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