Sunday, 15 December 2013

Moto registration in Pakse

So, you're moving to Pakse.
So, you've gotta get a moto.

So, you go with your workmates to buy a select the bike, you pay, you leave and start riding around with no registration plates and you wait.

And you wait.
And you wait.

And maybe, a month or so later, your workmate tells you that your registration plates are ready - whoop whoop!  What happens next?

Step 1. Day 1. Go to the place where you bought the bike early, say around 8am in the morning. Hand them your paperwork and 40,000 LAK (Kip, the currency here).

Step 2. Day 1. Follow your salesperson to the shop around the corner.  As you're falang (foreigner) you'll likely be offered a comfortable plastic seat to sit on while you are completely confused, that's nice of them. They'll hand over your money and paperwork and insist you keep sitting while a bunch of other people arrive and hand over differing sums of money and paperwork.

Step 3. Day 1. Wait around 30 minutes or so in your wonderful plastic falang chair.

Step 4. Day 1. Follow one of the workers from this second bike shop, who is all packed up with multiple paperwork and monies out to a non-descript government location for vehicle registration.  Arrive at new location around 9am.

Sign visible at the turn-off to the "Garage",
coming from the East
Sign visible at the turn-off to the "Garage",
coming from the West
It's like a large open "garage" set up (some sort of aparatus for checking braking, mirrors and a pit to check under the vehicle).  This is located at around km3/4 on Route13, down a dirt track around 500m.  The "Garage" has a nice glass windowed a/c office, where you can see people chatting and pushing papers around while you wait.

The "Garage", approaching from
the dirt road
Step 5. Day 1. Line up your bike with with others.

Bikes lined up, taking engine number details etc.

Step 5. Day 1. Staff at the garage check paperwork vs bikes- calling names (I didn't know which mine is under...I figure it was a process of elimination?)  This is the point at which I start keeping notes of my experience....These will follow the steps in quotation marks and italics, to give you a feel for being there.
"They bring out some plastic seats to sit on - again!  What a treat!
There are toilets and a fridge, a dog and a cat."

Step 6. Day 1. Masking tape and pencil used to record engine number.
"I'm 5th in line out of 13
Now 4 dogs, 9:15am, quite cute"

Step 7. Day 1. "Wait"

Step 8. Day 1. "Wait"

Step 9. Day 1. "Wait"
"9:30 a fifth dog appears.
Very glad I put the deet on this morning.
I'm the only Falang.
And only 1 of 2 women waiting for the bikes.
09:45- familiar face from office arrived, Dao heung shirt so not sure if works PAFO or coffee and comes in for phytosanitary certificates.
10am - 6th dog
10:15- 7th dog, no discernible family lineage as such, maybe 2 siblings
10:20 - one guy leaves
All stickers seem to be on bikes now, more or less
10:30 - car comes through, light and brake check it seems
10:50- dog 8 and dog 9
11:00- leave, no plates just stickers, 2pm at talat tomorrow."

Step 10. Day 1. The staff inside the glass office seem to relax, you aren't sure why, nothing seems finished.  Eventually it occurs to them to interact with the many people waiting outside.  I was told to leave and return to the talat ("market") tomorrow afternoon at 2pm.  At this stage, you only have two stickers on your bike, no number plate.

A view of the glass office....and unregistered bikes

Step 11. Day 2.  Show up at Market at 2pm, at the second shop location.  Encounter confused staff who don't know why you're not already out with the rest of them (at least, this is what I think they think).  Be directed toward a plastic chair, again, and you guessed the next step right.....

Step 12. Day 2. Wait.  Eventually they assign someone to ride your bike out to get the number plates for you.  Then you get to wait, again, on a wonderful red plastic chair.

The view from the shop while I wait for my bike to return....
glad I didn't have to ride in the rain!

Step 12. Day 2. Wait.  I recommend bringing a book or a good tablet device/laptop with battery.  I got quite a few emails off that afternoon.

Step 13. Day 2. Wait.  Watch them close the shop at 4pm and then leave one poor staff member to wait with you for your bike to return.

Step 14. Day 2.  Your bike is returned to you!!!  Registration plate is attached!!!!  The staff member left behind berates the driver for being so late.  And why was the driver late......"it was raining".  Ah, this is Laos!!!!

Now you can ride around town secure in the knowledge that now, if the police pull you over, you have important documents that they can hold you to ransom with - delightful!

NOTE - if you are lucky, this may happen all in one day.
NOTE - if you are very lucky, a work colleague or friend may sit through the entire experience for you - consider paying someone to do this for you.....

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Sometimes I forget how beautiful Pakse is.....

I was astounded by just how beautiful Pakse is on my ride home tonight - so I thought I would share some photos to give you all an idea of how beautiful it is....

Pakse by day - view from Residence Sisouk

Pakse by night - view from Residence Sisouk

Lone fisherman on the Mekong, Pakse