The revamp of Mohan
The Chinese-Lao border town
This time the road in China ended in Mohan. I had been here before and knew exactly what Mohan looked like. I had been here the first time in 2000 when I came by bus. Two years later, I cycled from Luang Namtha in Laos into China and stayed in Mohan. Little I had expected what I was to see this time, in 2006.
I knew the Chinese finally went to finish the express way from Kunming to Laos. Almost the whole road between Kunming and Simao was now ready. The part from Meng Xiang to Jing Hong was also ready.
The only part to be finished were some kilometers between Simao and Meng Yang but should be finished in the summer of 2006. All that was left was the road between Jing Hong and the Chinese-Lao border.
On the way to Mengla I saw this was no joke. I had heard the expressway to the Lao border should be finished in April 2006 but I doubt that story is true.
There has too much to be done to make that true. On the other hand, I would be surprised if the last part of the expressway is finished later then the end of 2006.
On the way from Mengla the expressway is in preparation, so to say. Some points are already flattened but no asphalt.
But I was also told the last part to Mohan was in pretty bad state. It was not that bad, only the last few hundred meters were of stamped earth, the rest was fine. The last part was leading me straight into Mohan.
However, I did not recognize Mohan at all! As far as my memory went, near the border was a market, many typical ugly white tiles and blue window buildings around.
In the evening the atmosphere in the village, it was really not much more then a one street town, changed. I saw lots of children with piles of money running around.
Lots of people were busy gambling for quite a lot of money. And there was the usual amount of prostitution one can find in many small roadside towns where truckers usually stop. In short, it was a sort of wild west border town. Then, only four years ago, the town was a place for smugglers and outlaws, it seemed.
In between 2002 and 2006 much has changed. There is almost nothing left of the old town. Almost all the white tile, blue window buildings are replaced by new buildings.
The main road now is split with a nice green corridor. All neat, clean and green. Mohan is absolutely ready for mass tourism to arrive. And with the opening of the expressway it will be easier to reach Jing Hong and Kunming in less then a day. After all, it's just 800 km.
But outside town the mess is still visible. The dirt houses probably in use by the road builders do not offer a nice site. This will change when the expressway is ready. And still some of the local people live in those houses too. Many of the locals in Mohan nowadays have nice and new houses. The surrounding villages however are still in the same shape as they are for many years and it doesn't seem that that will change once the expressway is ready.
The next step for the Chinese will be the extension of the expressway all the way to Thailand. The plans are ready and the new express way is ready until Luang Namtha.
However, this new road is not build by the Chinese but by the Japanese. And from what I have seen of it at this moment, it will be an excellent road. The old village of Boten is already vanished, villagers moved to other areas and the border will be ready in 2006 for mass tourism.
Most of the road from Luang Prabang to Vientiane is also in good state. Funny enough nowadays the worst part of the road is the last part from Vang Vieng to Vientiane, which is already extensively repaired. In the rainy season some parts of this road are demolished.
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Jinghong to Laos
Jinghong, capital of Xishuangbanna is the starting point for a few days bicycling to Mohan and the Lao border. It's a pleasant road.
Cycling in north Laos
North Laos is on the way from Xishuangbanna. The border is formed by Mohan on the Chinese site and the now almost destroyed town of Boten on the Lao site. Nearby are towns as Oudomxai, Luang Nam Tha and Muang Sing
Plenty to see in North Laos, and as usual, a bicycle is the way to travel
Map of Yunnan
On the way to Jing Hong
The road to Laos is mostly abandoned after finishing the motorway. An excellent option to cycle from Simao to Jing Hong