Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Days 60 to 66 – 7 Days in Vientiane - Wed 24 to Tues 30 Apr

Days 60 to 66 – 7 Days in Vientiane - Wed 24 to Tues 30 Apr
7 unexpected days in the capital of Laos, investigating Fuso overheating problem – highlights:
  • No Fuso dealer in Laos, started at Isuzu – their diagnosis bubbles in radiator, replace head (expensive-delays importing from Oz) or head gasket (less expensive-delays)
  • Pressure re meeting rest of group in time to enter China together
  • Conversations with and between Zupps in Brisbane and Fuso-Daimler in Melbourne (no warranty outside Oz), John M’s mechanic in Tamworth, expat Canadian in Vientiane, with a few suggestions from our fellow drivers and their mechanic mates
  • Tests on gauges, sensors, ERG cooler, radiator pressure in top and bottom hoses, motor temperatures, driving/observing…
  • Stripping/cleaning earth points
  • Packing silicon on viscous coupling
  • Agreement radiator core probably insufficient for weight/load and mountainous terrain – potential to increase capacity in China/Mongolia
  • Decision to keep on with trip but watch/manage heating, whilst having head gasket, and VDO temp sender unit shipped to China

In and around vehicle over-nighting in workshops, explored a little of Vientiane, highlights:
  • Visited COPE museum, shocked by ongoing damage caused by residual unexploded ordinance throughout Laos from US bombing of Ho Chi Minh Trail (every 8 minutes, 24hrs day for 9 years) numbers of amputees, particularly children affected when farming, searching for scrap metal


  • Wat Sisaket, spoke to visiting monk, chief of abbots, Prakrou Woradith Chaiyawat from Wat Meechai Ta, Nongkhai Thailand who had visited St Johns Park NSW, near where GirlRob grew up. Saw wall of miniature Buddhas in cloister, Hang Hod water trough in form of naga water spirit (during New Year/Water Festival pour perfumed water in to flow onto heads of monks or Buddha statues), ancient brush murals on walls. Toddler earnestly helping mother to sweep around drink stall

Met up with 4, then all 5 couples over dinner before rest of party departed without us; highlights:
  • Roof top bar watching sunset over Mekong, and lights go on in Thailand on the other side (but SpiritHouse makes best pina coladas)
  • Makphet international restaurant run by Jon and Jude’s friends where they teach hospitality to street kids, and sell products made by village women in an effort to provide them with an income so they can send their children to school
  • Walking through night markets. Toast to Anzac Day
  • Voted to continue with China pending NAVOs advice on bird flu and earthquake in Chendu region. Given their demonstrated skills, voted Jon spokesperson for group for tour, and Cheryl/Marina purse holders
  • Kerfuffle over Miles’ passport and wallet missing – he and Marina watched all hotel CCTV footage, turned out he had left it on hotel table in lobby and staff picked it up and put under counter without telling anyone
  • Learning how to “bump” photos from one phone to another from a proud Mongolian waiter in an Italian restaurant in Laos who wants us to visit his grandfather a herdsman, and to stay for the festival in Ulaanbaatar 10- 13 July (he says he hasn't touched up the photo!)

Well, the new fan is fitted, all boxes, lockers, cupboards and plastic crates have been gone through and repacked, and (a little!) gear thrown out, the vehicle has had an internal and external clean (including the dusty fly screens), and the consumables topped up. The old maps and Lonely Planet books have been replaced with the ones covering the next leg, and the digital/ electronic items have been moved to a more discreet location. The laundry is up to date, the hair cut or coloured, and the smelly sandals washed. Onwards to the Plain of Jars tomorrow….

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