The Best of Both Worlds

 |  May 27, 2011

Indochina’s ‘Croissant City’ is, of course, Vientiane. In March, I drove my Honda Wave (with all 110 cubic centimetres of its engine capacity) over 800 kilometres to Nong Khai (and back again). After this journey, which involved four days of driving, I am more road-savvy and I feel compelled to share my lessons with you.

My route from Chiang Mai to Nong Khai passed through Lampang, Phrae, Uttaridit, Nam Pat and Dan Sai (where I stayed overnight) before traversing the labyrinthine National Parks to Loei and Chiang Khan. A helmet with full visor is vital protection against the ubiquitous resident bugs of these national parks.

When I arrived in Dan Sai (Isaan) at the end of the first day I stopped to eat noodles. The charming noodle vendor asked if I would be her pen friend. Afterwards I checked into one of the many love motels for unencumbered slumber. It was here that I slipped and cut my elbow, which transformed into a tennis ball later, offering me a chance to claim on my Personal Accident policy (annual cost: 600 baht). Remember, it is smart to stash a first aid kit under the motorcycle’s seat.

The scenery across the National Park and along the dehydrated Mekong – from Chiang Khan to Nong Khai – is SPECTACULAR.

I would have taken my motorcycle across the border into Laos, but I discovered that my motorcycle tax had expired. Damn! It’s possible to cross the border into Laos with a vehicle at Pakxen if all prerequisite documentation is in place: the green vehicle ownership book, a motorcycle conveyance certificate from the Thai Transport Department, Thai driving license, insurance cover for Laos (an add-on to your Thai insurance policy)…and, of course, valid motor tax…

On my return to Chiang Mai the weather also performed a u-turn, so I wished I had checked the weather forecast ( I arrived home with red eyes and blue hands.

Next day, I visited the Transport Department to renew my motor tax. I was surprised when the officer rejected my insurance policy because it was too comprehensive. So I purchased another insurance policy – a very basic one – to enable me to renew my motor tax. My original policy was ‘too good!’ This is Thailand, which we all love!

Philip Wylie is the author of several books, including How To Establish A Successful Business In Thailand and How To Make A Living In Paradise; and he assists writers in their quest to get their books published.