This section from Hekou to Sa Pa is the tenth instalment of my bicycle ride from Yunnan to Cambodia – if all goes according to plan. Titled “Slap the Belgian!”, it is simultaneously published on, where you’ll find a map with the itinerary and many other bicycle diaries by me and others. I hope you’ll enjoy.

Day 11: Transferring to Vietnam

I’d submitted my passport to the Hekou visa office at 9 am, hoping that it’d be ready in a few hours. Unfortunately, I learn that I can pick up my visa by 6.30 pm. It seems the best thing to do is get into the visa office before 4 pm on any weekday. That way you can be across the border by 7 pm the same day. Price is 450 RMB if you’re handsome, and 500 RMB otherwise – according to the giggling girls running the business. Bah. Another day at Hekou, it’s starting to get on my nerves.

I spend the day slowly – Yunnan style – walking around town, ignoring attempts by pompous Chinese trying to make conversation in abominable English. The hours tick away slowly. A visit to the Hekou uprising museum and trying to decode the text kills a few of them. The museum is actually quite interesting if you can read what it says (no English, although the titles are in Pinyin, as if that helps anyone). There are quite a few interesting pictures and maps from middle nineteenth to the early twentieth century, including the building of the railroad by the French and portraits with biographies of the revolutionaries.

carving up China
Carving up China