Monday, 15 November 2010

Vang Vieng to Vientiane - Fuel problems...

The morning is spent tubing - $7 buys you a one way ride 3km out of town to the start of the route, plus the use of a truck inner tube.

The start point is like a scene out of Mad Max. One giant beach party. After a few warm up beers you just jump straight into the river on your tube and float off downstream. Bars line the first 1km, so anytime you run out of beer you just pull over to the bank for a top up. Unfortunately I'm driving today, so its Cokes only... :(

After tubing its back into the car, destination Vientiane. Its late by the time we leave so unfortunately this quickly becomes a night drive - Still, the roads are fairly empty here so its no big deal.

Just as it turns completely black and we head off down a remote jungle road, the engine decides to run rough. I pull over to the side of the road to check out the problem. Theres nothing quite like trying to fix a car in a jungle at night whilst you're getting bitten by mosquitos....I'll never forget it! Fortunately its just the points gap, I re-set them and we're back on the road in 5 minutes.

We're running low on fuel so I pull over to a rural gas station to fill up. Nobody speaks English and all the pumps have Laos writing. I figured that the black handled nozzle was diesel, the red handled nozzle petrol. And it was, well it was petrol but not the petrol we needed.....Shortly after re-fuelling the engine starts to run rough.

I pull over to the side of an even more rural road and run the usual checks, but its nothing obvious....Suddenly I get a whiff of the exhaust fumes coming out of our tailpipe. They smell like paraffin or heating fuel. Great. Meanwhile Becky swears she's seen something big moving around in the palm trees at the side of the road. She half jokes that its probably a tiger, then locks me out the car!

Theres little I can do about the poor fuel here, so we carry on. I hope to burn off as much as possible, then re-fuel with some good gas further on. Eventually we've managed to use a quarter of a tank, I pull over to a fuel station. The attendant sniffs the fuel cap and looking bewildered shouts "MOTO-BIKE!" I nod, agree and try to explain how the previous station put the wrong fuel in.
However.....The attendent obviously doesnt understand a word of my ramblings. Seeing me nod in response to him saying "Moto-bike" and knowing that its already half full of moto fuel, he proceeds to fill the car back up with poor grade, red, motorbike fuel.....AGGGHHHH!!!!

Aside from the popping and banging, the rest of the ride to Vientiane goes without a hitch...

We make it to Vientiane by about 8pm & check into HOTEL LAO, a great little hotel in the center of town. Dinner is spent in 'Le Vendome', a ridiculously good French restaurant set in a colonial era French villa, awesome and cheap too!

After dinner I drop MAG a line to see if anyone is around to meet up for a beer - We're in luck. As it turns out, theres an international cluster munitions conference being held in town. The CEO of MAG has flown over from the UK to attend, he knows all about our fundraising drive and is keen to meet up with us.

The rest of the evening is spent with several of the guys from MAG - Its a real pleasure to meet them all, including the charities founder 'Lou', a real character and an exeptionally great guy. Thanks again to MAG for such great hospitality and an excellent evening :)

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