Bangkok to Laos (2011) Bangkok - Ubon - Paksong - Attapeu - Pa-am - Xekong - Salavan - Savanakhet Date: April 04, 2011 to April 16th, 2011 Distance: 2420 Km The good: Visited Russian SAM in Pa-am. Crossed Friendship bridge from Savannakhet to Mukdahan. Explored Bolevan Plateau and surrounding areas. The bad: Contracted stomach flu, Collided with cow on route 13 I entered Laos via Chong Mek and found my entry easier than on the first entry in 2009. However, there was a Thai immigration officer posted a kilometer before the border on the Thai side. He waved me to the curb and asked for my Bike passport (ITP) which I didn’t have. “No bike passport, no go to Lao”. I nodded my head, smiled big and continued to the border when he was preoccupied with another vehicle. At the border I had no problems as I had previously mentioned. Smooth transition through the border. From left to right. Drop off passport. Pick up passport. Apply for entry at customs. My reception at customs wasn't as merry as I expected but they let me through. A new ad for the Apple IPOD? The NEW land of smiles? Give us some money. Not sure who they are going to attack. Johnny restaurant in Attapeu. Khan and his wife own the second restaurant on your left as you cross the bridge into Pa-am. He is situated directly across from the SAM. He brought out some old pictures of the missile and showed me where it had originally been located. In this photo, he is pointing out all of the misspelled villages on my map. He can't speak English but he can make out the words. He also helped me get some good photos. In all, he is a pretty good guy. It's obviously Spanish. Ordinance disposal team taking a break in Xekong. UXO office in Salavan. I didn't get carpet bombed in Salavan but I did pick up Ho Chi Minh's curse in the form of stomach flu. Although I didn't try the bugs, I must have eaten something bad. On the red dirt road linking route 13 and Salavan via Vapi, I stopped at this tiny town and rested at this temple. The novices told me it was called "Ban Bung Xai." Everyone was quite friendly. Further along I came to Ban Bung Kan. I stopped at a fork in the road to ask for directions and noticed this tree. On closer inspection it turned out to be a stupa. You can see the pinnacle in the lower right. Disaster strikes in the form of a brown cow (250-300lbs). He was alone and poised on the left side of 13 as I was heading north to Savanakhet. He then trotted across the road but it was too late to stop so I aimed to pass in front of him. His trot became a panicked dash and impact was immenent. I smashed into the center of him at around 100 Kph. I launched forward and just as I was about to fly over the bars the cow absorbed the energy and launched forward and to my right. I settled back into my seat and his head swung around and whacked my lower right leg so hard that my right knee dented the gas tank. The cow continued to slide to the right and eventually swung clear to the right shoulder of the road. The bike never came to a full stop. I believe the final speed was probably around 10 or 15 Kph. Upon reaching Savanakhet, I realized the whole thing was my fault. From now on, I'm always going to come to a full stop or near to it whenever I see as much as a duck waddling near the road. I crossed the Friendship bridge after 3 days of recuperation in Savanakhet. It took 3 hours of persistence, patience and reasoning to do it. I had a Thai customs form with "Mukdahan" printed on it given to me in Chong Mek. If not for that form I would have had to go back to Chong Mek. The Laos officials let me cross with a promise to never cross there again. I plan to keep that promise. I didn't get any pics because I didn't want to stop on the bridge and have the Laos officials come running after me telling me they changed their minds. I just pushed across and then had to deal with the Thai officials. They were a little easier to win over. Back home and thankful to God.