4th Mekong Friendship Bridge Houei Xai - Chiang Khong Opening.

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by DavidFL, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Back in home town after an extended stay in HX-CK-CEI.
    The original master plan was 2 nights in HX to witness the bridge opening, then ride out across the bridge, then spend a night in CK or CEI after checking on GTR map stock around the GT; however true to form events & the weather overtook me - I ended up being away 6 nights 7 days....

    ON THE LAO SIDE.

    11.12.13
    The auspicious day to officially open the 4th Mekong Friendship Bridge

    The Lao came from everywhere in whatever they had

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    Crowds lined the road, looking at what I don't know, but it was an event to be there

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    A huge market & food centre was set up

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    but the rain & muddy clay soil did not quite entice me to venture over for a look

    Access to the checkpoint & bridge was closed right for the official opening

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    The official opening as seen from a far

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    The opening done, the royal motorcade comes to HX

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    Then in the afternoon the bridge & checkpoint was open for a stroll & look see for the Lao.

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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Now just to back up a day, there was one "last" ceremonial ferry crossing, from Chiang Khong to Huei Xai,; or at least I hope it is.
    Squeezed in one more time

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    Powering on for one last time

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    And I swear that there is always some vehicle having trouble on the Thai side

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  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Back to crossing the bridge for the first time.

    Where you have to go

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    from downtown Houei Xai it is 10.5 kms downstream to the bridge & Lao checkpoint.

    I cruised down about 11.30 am, fingers crossed & hoping for the best.
    The gates were open & in I rode straight into the Lao Immigration & Customs booths.
    It wasn't exactly busy...

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    as I dismounted I announced that I was exiting to Thailand & wanted to get stamped out plus hand in my Customs Import papers.
    No one questioned me about anything or suggested it was no go.
    At the immigration booth I got stamped out, then 20 metres away I handed in the Lao customs form & it was all A-OK.
    It was only then that I asked is it ok (never ask before or you might get a negative answer), & was told yes ok, no problem.
    Getting back on my bike then to leave another farang pulls up on a bike - a Honda Wave all loaded up.
    Who - what the hell is this?
    I say hello & ask the guy what he is doing - going to Thailand too?
    Yes is the answer - almost dumbstruck. Ok I will wait & we can go together to take photos.
    Another 3 minutes & I would have gone "alone" across the bridge & no pix of the crossing.

    French Philippe Meunier had been in Laos for 3 weeks checking heaps of roads & trails in Northern Laos. He was / is a really cool guy.
    SO........
    off we went.....step by step, photo by photo...

    The two lucky guys.

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    Gday again & Philippe - absolutely brilliant meeting you at the "auspicious" moment.

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    out onto the bridge

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    A view looking back to the Lao side

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    towards the Thai side

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    One happy GT Rider

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    One very happy Frenchman, Philippe.

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    Well done mate!

    What is was all about

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    Down to the Thai checkpoint & Immigration

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    and indeed they got a surprise. The staff did not really know what to do - we were there on their doorstep & coming in.
    Some of them did not quite no what to do, but I diplomatically explained the procedure - the confusion being the TM2 Information of Conveyance.
    One of the guys assumed I was trying to leave & could not believe that no I was entering; I'd just ridden across the bridge from Laos into Thailand.
    Ho Ho we'd pulled off a bit of a coup alright.
    My TM6 immigration card was prefilled when I left 2 days earlier, so there was no delay completing the form, just front up to the desk hand in your card & passport to get stamped in.

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    Not so Philippe who had been in Laos for 3 weeks, had to find one & then fill out the card.

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    Mission complete

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    safely inside Thailand.
    Thanks again Philippe for escorting me across the bridge.
    We had a good time on the bridge taking photos & chatting - almost 20 minutes & I was amazed that no one yelled out for us to get off it!

    Not all the facilities are yet complete & in place at the bridge yet.

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    a big new scanning hanger is still being built.

    The Thai customs guys whom I chatted with at the bridge over the next couple of days say that they are working 6AM-10PM, 7 days a week. IT's all new & not everything is running smoothly.
    Most of the staff at the customs office in town will move out to a new office once all the computer equipment is in place.
    Another large customs office is also being built on the approach to the bridge.
    The old customs office in town will remain open, but with only a few staff.

    More to come..later on.

    The bridge maybe open, but there is a problem with the new immigration chief who has come from Chiang Saen = NO motorbikes on the bridge.
    Lao approve motorcycle use of the bridge, but NOT Thai immigration = you have to use the ferry.
    Bikes came out of Laos for the first 3-4 days op operation, but I understand that the Thai Imigration has complained to the Lao & asked them to stop or the bikes will be sent back.
    Now if you're trying to exit Laos across the bridge, when you rock up don't ask if it is ok for you to go, just saying that you are leaving & want to go to Thailand.
    Had in your passport, get stamped out, then hand in your customs paper at the next booth 20 metres away.

    FERRY SERVICE
    If you're exiting Laos the ferry fee is 500 baht on the Lao side. You get stamped out of Laos at the bridge, then back track upstream 11.6 kms to the north end of HX & the Lao ferry landing.
    If you're exiting Thailand the ferry fee is 1,000 baht a bike, with a minimum of 3,000 baht a trip. You get stamped out at the bridge, then ride upstream 10.7 kms to the north end of CK & the Thai ferry landing.
    Confused? So you should be. It is a shambles for motorbikes at the moment.
    If you don't like any of this, then ride around the border to the next crossing - a land border crossing - at Huay Kon (T) / Muang Ngern (L).
     
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The confusing border crossing procedure for some Malaysian riders who were refused use of the bridge by Thai immigration to enter Laos on 13 December.

     
  6. Ticino

    Ticino Ol'Timer

    Thanks David, complete, informative and accurate as ever - almost as having been there too!
     
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    A few more pics from Philippe..

    Stopped by a security guard trying to enter Thailand.

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    he had to radio ahead to get permission for us to proceed

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    all clear, but what were they going to do - send us back for another "illegal bridge crossing"?

    Thai immigration booth

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    about to begin the inbound check in.

    The 3 Malaysian riders who exited Laos across the bridge on 14th December 2013.

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  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Yesterday - 19 December 2013, Lung Guichard exited Houei Xai, Laos with his AX1-250 . At the bridge the Lao told him to put it on a pickup which he did. Cost 300 baht.
     
  9. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    I think I'll stay in Thailand. What a bloody stupid co.. up
     
  10. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    It looks like the bridge may be slowly opening.
    Bikes have been getting across at a cost of 1,000 baht each with a police / immigration escort vehicle.
    Goran from Phuket sweet talked his way over on 21st February.
    Bikes have been exiting out of Laos for 1,000 baht each.
    GT Riders rode across the bridge into Laos for the 2014 GTR Mekong Boat Trip on 21st Feb also, the same time as Goran.

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/39613-Epic-Awesomness!-Cruising-the-Mekong-with-the-GT-Riders!

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/39611-2014-GTR-Mekong-Boat-trip-Part-1-Chiang-Mai-Houei-Xai-Luang-Prabang
     
  11. none

    none New Member

    This is really great news, will be crossing the bridge next week, hope I can contribute with another success story.
     
  12. alrikki

    alrikki Ol'Timer

    This is also what I was told this week, by the customs house in chiang kong.
    Motorbikes can be taken over the bridge in a pickup, 1000bt each way.
    They can also be taken by boat, dont know the price, but you would still need to check out of thailand immigration at the bridge
     
  13. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    There have been a lucky few make it over solo.. But the general rule is 1,000 baht and police escort.
    Lets hope this all gets sensible soon.. As that bridge is hardly busy...

    Cheers
    Brian
     

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