30 Hours Bus Journey to China
The time was 6.30 am, Julien was in a deep sleep. I had no choice, other than to wake him up to bid my farewell. I had lots of great moments and memories travelling with him. it would not be nice if I leave silently. My next leg of journey was China border crossing. After bidding my farewell, I started to walk towards the main road to catch a tuk tuk to go to the bus station. The temperature was cold, with a slight breeze. Maybe around 15°C. The temperature made me worry about the latitude of Kunming where the temperature was going to be lower than Laos. The bus journey is from Luang parabang to Kunming (500,000 kip/60USD/263MYR). Advanced booking is required as only a trip is allocated daily.
Alms Offering To Monks
Along the way, there were many offering alms to monks. Offering alms to monks is an ancient tradition in Laos as in Thailand. It is a daily event done by people who are staying nearby the Buddhist Monastery. Sticky rice was one of the many offering by the people to the monks.
Another Surprise by the Tuk tuk Driver
The tuk tuk driver fixed a price to the bus station as 25,000kip, while it could usually can be done for 10,000kip. I tried to bargain to the max, but only up to 20,000kip. I had no choice other than agree since there was no other tuk tuk seen. After a few minutes , the tuk tuk jerked forward and backward until it stopped completely. His sign language and his broken face said the tuk tuk has broken down. He broke my heart too..He tried to rectify but unsuccessful. I only have half an hour to go to the bus station. Cortisol slowly released into my blood stream. However, I was very confident that I can reach the bus station before the departure time.
The tuk-tuk driver finally gave up repairing the tuk-tuk and called another tuk-tuk to take me to the bus station. The new driver asked for 15,000kip. I offered 10,000kip to the stranded driver, before i got onto the second tuk-tuk. He shocked me badly by saying NO to the money that I offered. Laos surprised me again and again and again, repeatedly. But, I didn’t gave up, I managed to force him to accept the money than going back empty handed.
This sleeper bus journey wasn’t that fun as my Urumqi to Almaty bus journey. Because, there was no any other traveler except me. Moreover, the scenery wasn’t mind blowing as Urumqi to Almaty. However, unexpectedly the border crossing at Mohan (Laos/China border) pushed me into deeper Adrenalin flow which shaken me badly.
“Your Height is Not 182cm”
The Laos exit point was extremely easy without any hassle or bassle but the China check point, Mohan really pumped my Adrenalin to the top and really put me under stress. The immigration officer was so alert until he stopped me saying ” Your height in the passport is stated 182 cm but in reality you are not”. OMG …. First without knowing my actual height I was arguing with him that I am 182 cm.
“Can you please wait in that room”
He wasn’t happy and said ” I am very sure your height is somewhere 176 cm”. He took my passport and asked me to wait. After he consulted a few other officers and came back saying, ” Can you please wait in that room”. OMG. I knew this is to interrogate me for sure. But the problem was they spoke little English and I don’t speak Chinese at all. Another problem was the bus may not wait for me. I’m already late by 20 minutes comparing to other passengers in the bus. This situation really put me under stress. BUT I was very confident that I can go through this.
The room was big and there were two more officers standing there to interrogate me. The officer who initially dealt with me asked another officer (who was taller than me) to stand beside me. After comparing us, he said that the officer’s height is 180 cm and impossible my height to be 182 cm when I looked very much shorter than him. I didn’t understand why this minor error on my height is so important.
One of the officer even asked me to take out all my belongings from my backpacks and checked them thoroughly. He deeply questioned me of why I’m travelling through this route instead of flying. The interrogation process didn’t scare me but I truly was nervous.
Another officer was busy with analyzing the legitimacy of my passport with a magnifying glass. To convince them that I’m an overland traveler, I showed them my Malaysian Identification Card and driving licence. Importantly I masked my brooding face. I did changed my script of my explanation that the 182 cm could be error from the Malaysian Immigration or I would have given some wrong information during the passport application. Time was ticking, they were not convinced yet.
I’m late by approximately one hour. Suddenly, a lady officer entered the room and started to argue with them regarding my issue (conversation was in Chinese) forcefully and she overridden the others to ‘release’ me…
It was big relief for me. Eventually I understood that, they suspected my passport to be a fake one. Moreover, my overland route was very unusual for a Malaysian. Well justified reason to stop me and the incident really heighten my respect on China’s Government and their compliance on National Security. The following afternoon, I reached Kunming safely. My assumption was correct, the temperature was 10°C in Kunming. TO BE CONTINUED…….