Dec 18th, 2014
In front of me was a road, rather shabby if you compare it with the one on the Chinese side. Beside the road was a station where all the trucks had to stop and have their papers checked — perfect spot for hitchhiking!
I asked several truck drivers, Chinese and Laotian but no one would take me or go further than a few kilometer.
A bit further away there was a stall where insurance for cars was sold. It was obligatory that every foreign car entering Laos through this checkpoint should buy their travel insurance there. Since the truck spot did not work out, I headed for this stall. I was not hoping for Chinese cars to take me as I knew that nowadays in Chinese society there was a big problem with mutual trust. However, basically only Chinese cars stopped there…. I asked some of them and no one would take me. Time was ticking. It was about 2pm. My goal was to arrive in Luang Prabang, which was about 300 km South to Boten Border Crossing, in the evening.
Another car stopped, with a number board from the Northeast of China, where people were direct and more trusting. The driver, a bold and trunky guy jumped out of the car and walked like winter wind. He was in a hurry. I took out my Chinese ID card. This ID was made when I was studying in Tsinghua University in Beijing, so there was the address of the university on it. For those who do not know, Tsinghua Univ. is probably the best university in China and its gradutaes enjoy a solid reputation of reliability and honesty.
He bought the insurance and was rushing towards his car. Before he opened the door, I came up and said:”Big brother, where are you going? Could I go with you? No matter how far you go, as long as it is not just a few kilometer.” He hesitated. I showed my ID card and said “I am not a bad person. Look! I graduated from Tsinghua Univ.”. He hesitated for another 2 seconds and said without blinking or any expression on his face:”Get in!”
I got my first ride ever from a Chinese!!! 😀
“I did not want to take you because I am actually in a hurry. I have to reach my farm today and rush back to China before the border checkpoint closes.”
He was in his forties and ran a watermelon farm in the Northeast of Laos. This time he crossed the border to bring some pesticides which were not available in Laos to his farm. Since the border check here was really slack, according to him, his workers all entered Laos illegally from China. “Who need passports to cross the border?!” He said. Like all the drivers, he talked about his family. 😀 His daughter was doing high school in Canada and his nephew studying in Birmingham University, UK. He was very proud of them. He warned me that right now the road was one of the best in Laos and soon I would experience the worst road ever.
The road, the national road was just wide enough for two parallel vehicles. Previously it was even worse, simply a road of dust. This new road was financed mainly by Chinese, not just Chinese government, also those Chinese businessmen in Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia, including some Chinese casino owners in the infamous “Golden Triangle” area.
Last month he picked up 2 Chinese hitchhikers, a couple.
“Why do you travel alone?! Find a girl to travel with you! That’s more fun!”
After about 20 km, we had to split. I took a photo of him since he was my first driver of my SEA hitchhiking trip.
Seriously, he just lacked some big tattoos, otherwise he would totally look like a gangster. 😛 😀