Road trip

Trip Start Sep 21, 2011
Trip End Mar 21, 2012

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Where I stayed
Submukda Grand Hotel Mukdahan
Read my review - 3/5 stars

Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Up before 5am for breakfast and we are away by 6am.  On the road out of the village before the sun is up and it is quite chilly.  We reach the main road after about 20mins and 20mins later again pass through the town of Kuchinerai.  Riding quickly it is getting very cold on the bike so we stop for me to double up on shirts.  I am still shivering so we stop again and I carry my rucksack across from front to keep the wind off my chest.  We end up stopping every 15mins or so for a little bit of running around and jumping up and down to get the circulation working again.  We have a longer stop at the market in the town of Kamchaa-i but it has warmed up a bit by then.  We arrive at Mukdahan, 112km later, just before 9am and find our way to the immigration office by the river crossing into Laos.  The place is packed with what looks like Laos folk either arriving or departing in groups.  I eventually push my way to the front - seemed like the only way - and spoke with someone in authority.  He tells me that they dont do visa extensions here and that we have to ride out to the border bridge a few km outside of town.  We follow the river to make sure we find our way and end up passing beneath the bridge with no access roads and have to overtake the structure, join the main road further on, then return towards Mukdahan to reach the bridge access.
The first office we go to points us to another office who in turn directs us somewhere else and eventually we reach the immigration office that we have been looking for.  The process here is surprisingly quick and easy with friendly staff.  I am even pleased to see that she has given me an extension of 30 days from the date that my original visa was due to expire (20th Nov) rather than from today as I expected.
I am desperate for petrol by now and luckily find a station just a couple of km along the main road back to Mukdahan.  Just after filling up I am pulled over at a routine police checkpoint and asked for a license.  I produce my tatty old UK license which off course he cant read.  He immediately asks for 200Bht but I thought I would play the game a little bit longer.  I explained that the license was in order, lasts till my 70th birthday, and covers me to drive all vehicles.  He turns his back on us and is thinking - I can actually hear the small cogs in his head turning - then he gives me the paper back and waves us off.  Bluff worked this time.  Arriving back in Mukdahan we pull into the car park in front of a building marked as Tourist Information.  This turns out to be a small, unmanned, cubicle with a couple of pictures on the wall and nothing else.  Whilst here we spot a hotel next door that I had read about on the internet so we go to investigate.  The Mukda Sub-Grand turns out to be fine and I cant be bothered to go shopping around so we check-in for 1 night.  The rooms are quite nice and we have a small balcony from where you can just about get a Mekhong view and see Savannakhet on the other side.
We rest up for a bit and eat the food that we brought with us then set out to visit the Mukdahan Tower built to celebrate 50 years since the KIng's accession to the throne back in the 90s.  We came here before about 6 years ago and it hasnt changed at all.  We ride the lift up to the penultimate floor and enjoy the views looking back over the town, along the river as far as the bridge and across into Laos.  There are information boards all the way around the room and are in English as well.  We climb up one kore floor into the dome at the top and can go outside to see the views then climb one more floor for Jai to pay her respects to the Buddha there - Phra Phutta Nawaming Mongkhan Mukdahan apparently.
Descending to the second floor we spend some time looking around the small museum of Isaan artifacts and coins and make fools of ourselves posing for photos in costumes.
Leaving the Tower we return into town along the riverfront and stop at the Indochina market.  Lots of the stuff here is a little different to other markets around here being brought in overland from Laos, Vietnam and China - still looked like 90% junk to me.
We look for an old French river boat called the Morris that used to be moored here and served as a floating restaurant but couldnt find it.  A tuk-tuk driver told us that it had been sold to a Laos businessman who had taken it back across the river to Savannakhet so we wont be eating there tonight.
Back to the hotel for a snack and a coffee and to 'freshen up'.  Back out on the bike after dark and pass slowly along the river front looking at the different restaurants for somewhere to have a beer and some food.  After stopping at a couple we settle for a place called Wine, Wild, Why ? and enjoy a large fried fish.
We ride around town for a bit and then back to the hotel about 20:30 - positively late night for me !! 
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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