ROBBED of 2 million K ($240US) by the police

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by STUART, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. STUART

    STUART Member

    Here is the story:
    We entered Xaysomboune from Phonsavan via 1D and 5. We were told that there was a guest house there. The cops picked us up at the large market in Namcha, Khixang or Muang Cha. Map and local signs not clear on the boundaries. After they took our passports we were told to follow them to the police station. They questioned us for about three hours, then after it was too dark to leave town told us to check into a hotel. Their boss was not there and he needed to talk to us the next day. We reluctantly agreed. They kept our passports. We returned at 8 the next morning and asked to wait. We waited 5 hours, and after they had their lunch they questioned us for another 5 hours. They looked at every picture we had taken (about 700) and asked us many questions. During all of this they were mostly nonthreating with the exception of a couple drunk and belligerent cops who slammed things around and hit on our girlfriends. At first they wanted $100 each person (X4) and we said that we could not pay that. They counter offered with 2 million kip (about $240US). After talking to the US embassy in Vientianne we decided that paying that would be better than staying another day there (or possibly a lot longer). We are still not sure where or when we violated any laws. We saw no signs, guards or any other indication that this was a restricted area.
    Beware,
    Stuart
     
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  3. STUART

    STUART Member

    If any one can tell me what I did wrong please post
     
  4. burnjr

    burnjr Ol'Timer

    sad news bro...just 1 question u entre by bike or others..
     
  5. STUART

    STUART Member

    we entered xaysomboune by motorcycle that were rented in vientianne
     
  6. burnjr

    burnjr Ol'Timer

    is too bad may be can ask jimoi about this.. :D
     
  7. jimoi

    jimoi Ol'Timer

    I've done some checking around and no real answers since I was not there and we don't know exactly the reason from the police. One or two things that came up talking to those that should know.
    1. The area is just one of those places not really opened up to tourism. The Phu Bia crowd at the mining site get by no problem because of the industry but tourists are not a known commodity as they are in Luang Prabang or Vang Vieng.
    2. Events in the area might have happened earlier and made the police/military on edge, it happens.

    I'm not sure if the people that were doing the Q&A were police or military, odds are they were military attached in some way. The fine is pretty steep according to the people I talked to. When I told them of nationality and the pillion were Thai, they all seemed to nod at once and it became easier for them to believe.

    Of note, many people have ridden through here but not stopped - as far as I am aware of they bolted from Tha Viang past Xaysomboune non-stop. I know that Stuart had good translation and there were most likely no mis-communications with the authorities.

    I'm not 100% sure. There are a lot of possibilities. Once I was accused of being a catholic missionary and held up for a bit of money and wasted a ton of time, this is just something you have to be prepared to wait thru and pay off. Tracking around places that are sensitive to the Lao with GPS, high resolution cameras, video, loads of cash and toys that they are unfamiliar with is always something to be aware of. Places like LPQ are not an issue so much but areas around Long Chien, Nam On, Vietnamese, Chinese, Myanmar and the Thai border are can be touchy.
     
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Stuart
    It sounds like you had a real adventurous trip.
    Xaysomboun has always been a sensitive area & it doesn't come as a shock that you got hassled, but the fine was a beauty - ouch!
    But for anyone who likes to ride in "sensitive areas", then yes, you should expect the odd local complication from time to time.

    What map were you using?

    I'd love to see some photos from the trip if you want to share them.
     
  9. STUART

    STUART Member

    I was using your map and a Reise know- how map of Laos. The reise map is large and has a scale (1:600,000) that shows a lot of detail. We are especially interested in the smaller dirt roads. Unfortunately we discovered that a lot of that detail is inaccurate. No problem though, as we enjoy being lost more than bored. There is a new version out now, perhaps they fixed some of that.
    Your map does warn of restricted entry quite a ways away to the north west. But, since we were not stopped at any check points (as I would expect for a restricted area) and far away from Longcheng, I am surprised that we had any problems. And even more strangely is that they seemed more interested in our travels south to Muang Ao Neua. We did see a lot of logging and clear cutting in that area. We were forced to turn back by bad roads that eventually just ended.
    I wouldn't mind sharing my pictures with you. It's just that I have never done it and need to find out how. I will look into.
     
  10. daewoo

    daewoo Ol'Timer

    See this;
    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorc ... t1167.html

    The process is actually pretty simple;
    Start a photobucket account at www.photobucket.com (free)
    Load your pics onto your PC,
    Resize them (try using Irfanview if you don't already have an application www.irfanview.com (free)
    Upload your pics to an album in photobucket (there is a bulk upload function)
    Copy the image tags provided in photobucket.
    Paste into your post on here where you want the photo to appear...

    It might sound complicated, but it is p!ss easy, even I can do it.

    Cheers,
    Daewoo
     
  11. STUART

    STUART Member

  12. STUART

    STUART Member

    This is another angle of the market where we were picked up. anyone know the name? The police station was a short distance to the east
    [​IMG]
    Bad road I mentioned
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  13. STUART

    STUART Member

    ooops bulk upload does not resize. Sorry, I'm learning
     
  14. daewoo

    daewoo Ol'Timer

    You can edit you post (paste in new IMG tags) once you have uploaded the resized photos... I think you can resize them one by one in photobucket, but it is slow...

    also, start the IMG on a new line for each one so that the page doesn't end up double width...

    Cheers,
    Daewoo
     
  15. jimoi

    jimoi Ol'Timer

    I just came through the same area, stopped at the same market and as well at a small shop in Xaysomboune with a friend of mine on Bajas. No problems and after I fueled in Xaysomboune, went back into 'town' and used a local mechanic shop for about 10 minutes directly across the street from about 20 military and a few police having lunch. No problems again.
    There was a lot of activity on the road but again, smiles and waves from the boys in green.
    Two clients of ours were through here as well the week before - no problems.
    I've also spoken now to several other people here in Laos and there seems to be no trouble riding past here.

    I don't know what to say about the fine, was there an official reason? My question might be, did you ride somewhere off the trail before the town or did you take photos of things not supposed to be shot?
     
  16. STUART

    STUART Member

    We went many places and shot many pictures. We were never told that any of this was a problem. Their reason was that we were not allowed in Xaysomboune itself. It was closed to tourists. The two times we encountered a road block or guards we were turned back. If we wanted to visit they said we should have stopped by the police station to ask permission first. Problem is we would have already entered the "forbidden zone". My friend has the official confession that we signed. It is in Lao so I can not read it. I will try to get a copy sent off to you, perhaps you can get something from it.
     
  17. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    2008-0520 - Media Newswire - Laos, Vietnam: Attacks Against Hmong Civilians Mount

    http://media-newswire.com/release_1066895.html

    Laos, Vietnam: Attacks Against Hmong Civilians Mount

    Confidential Lao government and military sources as well as Hmong hiding in the Phou Bia region of Laos have reported heavy and renewed attacks by the regime against Lao Hmong civilians in the Phou Bia area, and elsewhere in Laos.

    (Media-Newswire.com) - Confidential Lao government and military sources as well as Hmong hiding in the Phou Bia region of Laos have reported heavy and renewed attacks by the regime against Lao Hmong civilians in the Phou Bia area, and elsewhere in Laos. Hundreds of civilian casualties and atrocities have resulted from these brutal new attacks by Lao and Vietnamese troops over the last two weeks, which have intensified in recent days with the deployment of hundreds of additional government solders.

    The Lao People’s Democratic Republic ( LPDR ), under the firm grip of the communist Lao People’s Revolutionary Party ( LPRP ) and working alongside the armed forces of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam ( SRV ), is a one-party military junta that is closely allied with Burma and North Korea.

    “Laos continues to use food as a weapon against the Hmong people hiding in the jungles of Laos,” stated T. Kumar, Advocacy Director and Asia Policy expert at Amnesty International, Washington, D.C., at a Congressional Forum on Laos conducted on January 31, 2008, in the U.S. House of Representatives.
    http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php? ... 0070323001

    “The LPDR government has decided to increase the number of active military personnel involved in the anti-Hmong military operations in the Phou Bia region; Currently in one area, some 300 LPDR Army soldiers and 100 SRV Army advisors and officers are engaged in attacks on Hmong civilians, most of whom are unarmed women and children,” stated Vaughn Vang of the Lao Human Rights Council ( LHRC ).

    Vang also reported further: “These soldiers are currently using heavy artillery batteries and helicopter gunships, both outfitted with chemical weapons which are reported to act as a defoliant, to cause blindness upon contact and often intestinal failure resulting in death. A Lao official claims that the LPDR mission is to exterminate all the ‘internally displaced’ Hmong groups by the end of this year using conventional weapons and ground forces with artillery and aerial deployed chemical weapons.”

    Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis stated: “The Lao Hmong from the jungles and mountains inside Laos are reporting that Hmong women, children, and elderly, in hiding, are starving. Other Lao Hmong trapped in the jungles are in critical condition from these attacks; Many of these civilians are also wounded during the constant conventional military attacks by the Lao and Vietnamese ground forces."
    http://www.presszoom.com/story_144108.html

    "Moreover, there is no medical access or supplies to help these sick and injured civilians, so many more are dying as a result of these new Lao and Vietnamese military attacks at Phou Bia and elsewhere in the country," Smith said.

    Lao officials have also reported that members of the LPDR ministries have met for the past two weeks to plan the strategy and military operations to exterminate the Hmong hiding in the jungles. Senior level SRV and Lao ministry of defense meetings have been conducted in recent days regarding the situation in Laos according to official SRV government sources, including the Vietnam News Agency.

    “The Hmong currently suffering under LPDR military attack in the Phou Bia area are requesting that journalists and members of the international community help continue to document the evidence of LPDR and SRV military operations and atrocities in Laos against civilians. It is the hope of these internally displaced Laotian and Hmong peoples that such reports may help raise awareness and stop the LPDR from continuing their intensified campaign of ethnic cleansing, mass starvation and extermination of unarmed civilians, dissident groups and religious believers in hiding,” concluded Smith.

    Al Jazeera's correspondent Tony Birtley travelled in secret to the jungles of northern Laos where he documented and reported about the horrific plight of the Hmong.
    http://www.english.aljazeera.net/NR/exe ... 30C28D.htm

    “Without international humanitarian intervention, it is many Hmong in-hiding will be killed or starved to death by joint Lao and Vietnamese military forces in the next few weeks,” concluded Vaughn Vang.

    "We urge the military forces of Vietnam to immediately cease attacking the Hmong people in Xieng Khouang Province, Luangbrabang Province, Vientiane Province and elsewhere in Laos, and completely withdrawal all of their troops from Laos back to Hanoi," stated Boun Boulaphanh,Lao Community Leader and advisor to the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. who recently lead dozens of protestors demonstrating outside the Lao Embassy in Washington, D.C. following a policy conference on May 1, 2008 hosted by the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc.

    Hmong groups hiding in the jungle as well as elements within the Lao government both acknowledge that the Hmong are targets for attack and extermination by the LPDR regime because of their former alliance with the United States during the Vietnam War.

    Stuart
    Depending on your viewpoint, there's a certain amount of "truth 'n propaganda" in the above report.
    I thought it might explain a bit more & perhaps offer a reason why foreigners are not openly welcomed in the old Xaysomboune province.
    However, for some guys I think there's always the challenge / "dare" of going where you're generally not recommended or supposed to go. Makes you more of an adventurer or a man I guess.
    Loved your photos & brief report, but any chance of you downsizing those photos a bit & showing us some more goodies.
     
  18. STUART

    STUART Member

    Had I been warned that this was a closed area I would have thought twice about traveling there. But, in fact, I had met with Jim in VT and he recommended this area as a good stopping point due to there being hotels. To prove the point he and several of his clients have visited there recently. We had met road blocks in other areas and alway complied with there request to turn around. There was no road block or warning of any kind coming in to Xaysomboune. If they have the area closed why not tell people? I have a suspicion that this was a case of some opportunistic policemen making a quick "score" off some falang.We were only looking for a way to get from Phonsovan to Vientianne using the smallest roads possible. Yes, we were looking for an adventure, but not trying to prove that I am a man by challenging the authorities. Those days are long gone.
     
  19. thebamboorat

    thebamboorat Active Member

    David,

    your comment about "truth and propaganda" is right on the money. The Center for Public Policy Analysis lists among it's contributors a very, very long list of people who where in the old Royal Lao Army or government. They definitely have a large barrow to push and are behind a lot of the "genocide" press releases that come out.

    I have no doubt that a lot of nasty shit has happened and it may still be happening but I'd be wary of anything that the CFPPA puts out
     
  20. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

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