I reached Russia!

After 22 hours of travelling and transit from Mumbai to Delhi to Moscow, I reached my friend’s place.

Last day flight from Mumbai to Delhi cost me a bomb since I couldn’t get train ticket to Delhi.

Flight to Moscow was 6 hours from Delhi.

I took the airport express metro and changed another one to reach my friend. Not a lot of English speakers here!

A short walk in the evening revealed some of the beauty.

Next day was quite cold and damp. It was raining and the temperature was 7-8 Celsius. I found navigating in metros a little hard due to the Russian language.

Pictures:

Last one is from the underground metro. They really dig them deep inside!

Laos and end of trip

Towards the end of the 3 months in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, this space to note stuff got sidelined a bit.

Day 8 – Nakay to Konglor

Day 9 – Konglor to Pakxan

Day 10 – Pakxan to Vientiane

I completed the Thakhek loop with Phoebe. There was a cool spring on the way and Konglor caves. Both of them were quite amazing. There were nice jumping spots in the spring, and the caves were a long boat ride and an entire stretch inside.

The journey continued towards the capital Vientiane. Phoebe got 3-4 flat tires in quick succession. It was unreal. None for so long and then suddenly she goes haywire few days before I have to sell her. I managed to somehow get her to Vientiane.

In Vientiane, I started looking for buyers for Phoebe. It had been 10 days already on the bike and I felt I’ve had my fill. Plus if you look at the map of Laos, the route further up looked like Vang Vieng -> Luang Prabang -> Nong Khiaw -> Luang Namtha. Luang Namtha being way in the north. Good place to sell the bike is either Vientiane, the capital, or Luang Prabang where people from Vietnam come in from.

I managed to sell Phoebe for a really sweet price in Vientiane. I was adamant at selling her for a high price since I could use her for a few more days and sell her for less which would still save me bus money. It worked. This also meant my travel mate Kevin and I had to part ways after a real good time together in Laos. He left for Vang Vieng on his bike while I took the bus to Luang Prabang.

On reaching Luang Prabang over a night bus I found someone who was headed to Luang Namtha. Since I had no plans of my own I joined the girl and left for Luang Namtha the same night.

I did enjoy the Kuang Si waterfalls in Luang Prabang during the day, which were quite unreal.

I did a 3D/2N trek in Luang Namtha with a local tour agency. It was pretty good and cost around 90$ with food included. Some very nice river water to swim in.

The bus to Luang Namtha dropped us of at 2:30 am. Half asleep I heard the Lao bus guys say “Nam-tha, Nam-tha” and I dreamily wondered that this must be the word for toilet. I went down to pee and saw there was a board for Luang Namtha in front of me. It was quite an eye opener at that moment. Both of us were expecting to be dropped off at 5-6 in the morning. We chilled by the side of the road close to a guesthouse till 6. The bus was so small that I had to sleep diagonal on a seat of two to fit. Thank goodness I wasn’t sharing my seat with anyone.

Headed to the small town of Nong Khiaw after this which truly stole my heart. So much so that I seriously contemplated buying land there to set up a summer home. The logistics of this are pretty hard to set up.

Also went to Muang Noi which is a town an hour boat ride up from Nong Khiaw. Pretty similar appeal as Nong Khiaw.

Last place on the list was Vang Vieng. This is famed to be a party town but you can see nice spots with very few people if you know how.

I flew out of Vientiane to India after this.

I swam in fresh waters in Laos for good 17-20 days out of the month I was there for. It’s amongst my favourite things to do.

My trip cost me 1,40,000 INR in total for 3 months. Which is around 700$ a month average. Pretty good.

(This post is on a new domain)

Phoebe and I made it to Laos, but we are in trouble. 

Aah so this was the second time I was crossing a border with Phoebe. Read about the first one here

From: Stung Treng (Cambodia)

To: Don Det aka 4000 islands (Laos)

Cambodia motorbike diaries Day 10 and Laos motorbike diaries Day 1. 

So, I read about numerous stories about how the border crossing between Cambodia and Laos is rife with scams. There’s one where a friendly guy takes your passport and offers his services for 7-8 dollars. There is the stamping “fee” scam where the officials take 2$ to stamp you in or out. Then there is the one where they let you out on your motorbike from Cambodia but don’t let you in Laos, so you have to sell your motorbike for 25$ in between. 

I was thinking that the worst thing that happens today is I lose my bike. 

When crossing the Cambodian side, I had to pay 2$ stamping fee. I didn’t contest it and paid. 

On the Laos side there was a 1$ fee which was when you got your visa processed before 8 or after 4 but they still took the dollar anyway. Then I paid 2$ for stamping fees again. 

I thought I was flying out of Vientiane on the 9th and the visa I got is till 9th April. Close call. I was hoping that they gave it till 11th April since I applied on 11th March but apparently not. (My flight is on the 8th)

Like the last border crossing I was keeping my bike away and not really mentioning it to anyone. 

When I was leaving the office and walking towards the motorbike, the lady from the office called me out and asked “Do you have moto?”. I couldnt really say no and hence said a very tentative yes. She then told me to get it registered in the other office. 

I thought this is where I pay the bribe. The guy looked at my passport and asked for 6$. I had 3$ in small notes and then just a 50$ note. I asked him whether it was okay to pay just 3, but he refused. So I had to give him 50$ note which he changed for 400,000 kip and returned the remaining amount. 

He gave me a yellow document which was a document declaration for the bike. This was a customs declaration and I tried to tell him that I am flying out of the country but he just told me to show it when I made exit. I also told him I have to sell the bike in Laos. 

I got away from the border and a little realisation struck me that this is not good. I need to get the bike out of the country by 9th April which I can’t do, since I’m flying out. I went back to the office and asked the people there. Suddenly none of them spoke English! All of them pretended to barely understand me and just told me to show the form when I fly out. 

Slowly over the course of the day I figured this is really way worse than it seemed at the moment. I can legally not leave the country without the bike. The document  also said that I was not allowed to sell it. That there was a 10$ per day fine for overstaying. 

I was hoping to fly out from here to India. If I go to other countries that would involve visa fees. Plus I have to come back to Laos again and pay visa fees again. 

At the border there were 3 people who were just ditched by their driver after getting to the border. And now they had to figure out a way to get to a place 150 kms away. 

These borders are so messed up. 

I had a Swedish guy with me as well, and we were doing the same thing together. They didn’t stop him but just stopped me. The visa for Indians is 40$ while for most other places it’s 30-35$, Canada being an exception at 42. 

I have 4-5 options in my mind that I have to choose from. None are particularly great but I’ll see which one I choose. 

I made it to Don Det and it seems nice here. Most of my day has been spent over analysing what to do though. 


I bet the officials at the border were probably laughing over how they acted as if they didn’t know English and fucked the Indian guy. 

Cambodia motorbike diaries – Day 9 (Preah Vihear to Stung Treng)

Distance: 140 kms. 

Short and sweet ride. Met up with a few friends from Siem Reap again so it was nice. The city was just a stop over for the next day to cross over to Laos from the border. 

There is a nice river in the city so it was good to take a dip in. Probably not the cleanest but who cares 🙂

I did get some new food in the city. Sticky rice with beans inside a bamboo stick and a fried patty that had spinach inside. 

Cambodia motorbike diaries – Day 8 (Siem Reap to Preah Vihear)

Distance: 170 kms. 

Left really early today at 7 am to not drive that much in the sun. The ride was really good compared to others that have been in Cambodia. This is just one of the two stops that I am making before crossing the border to Laos. 

Saw a beautiful sunrise in the city and ate really good and cheap food. Mix vegetables with unlimited steam rice, for 1.5$. A person at the restaurant translated for me that I wanted something with no meat and no egg. I went back in the evening and pointed to vegetables and she understood that I wanted the same thing 🙂

Cambodia motorbike diaries – Day 7 (Battambang to Siem Reap)

Distance: 175kms 

Phoebe has been leaking gasoline from somewhere. I tried to get it fixed but couldn’t really find a mechanic who understood. I took her to one guy who did some random stuff and took 75 cents. 

I drove anyway, and reached Siem Reap. The place of Angkor Wat where the God kings walked. 

I spent 3 days seeing several temples and sunrises and sunsets from different spots. It was outstanding. I think this post can just have pictures after this. 

Cambodia motorbike diaries – Day 6 (Pursat to Battambang)

Distance: 110 kms

After starting my ride today I figured that my fuel tank meter wasn’t showing full even though I had filled it up Day before yesterday and only driven a few kms. It was missing 2 litres of petrol maybe. I checked for leaks and there weren’t none. Weird!

I am staying at the Tomato guesthouse dorms in Battambang. It’s 2$ per night! 🙂

Battambang feels like a nice place. I saw a couple of temples today. One was more like ruins. I love ruins! 


At the other one I played with cats for half an hour or so. I sat down next to this old man, who I believe had them as pets. Another lady pulled me up a chair later on when she saw me. Even though we couldn’t converse it felt nice sitting and chilling with them. 

Cambodia motorbike diaries – Day 5 (Phnom Penh to Pursat)

Distance: 200 kms

Phoebe got a major repair done. Her gear chain was breaking again and again and the mechanic said one of the parts is causing this. It cost me 65$ to fix her up and another 35 had been wasted before. But I am hoping she will not get me stuck in the middle of my journeys again 🙁

There is nothing much to do in Pursat and this was my stop only because the drive straight to Battambang is too much. Battambang is 100 kms from Pursat. 

The lazy town Kampot

Kampot deserves a special mention. It’s a lazy town in the south of Cambodia. I stayed 6 nights in this place and could’ve stayed more. 

There’s nothing really going on in this place. But for some reason the place has a charm of its own. 

There’s a river (half river since it’s salty) which you can swim in. 

There’s live music sometimes. 

There’s a national park which is the most horrible national park I’ve seen. Expected to drive some 10 kms but it turned out to be a 40 km drive one way, to a commercial place amongst the mountains with nothing to see at all. 

You can drive to Kep and spend a day at the national park over there or by the beach. 

So you do have some things to do, but the laziness is unreal. I spent 3 nights in Sihanoukville lazying around but wanted to leave afterwards. 

I finally moved out of Kampot to see a music festival in Phnom Penh. If there wasn’t any festival and maybe if there was a fresh water lake close by in Kampot, I could’ve easily stayed more nights.