15 day road trip around North West Laos

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by rob reznik, May 8, 2010.

  1. rob reznik

    rob reznik Member

    Hi all - new to the site so please be kind to me :thumbup: - went to Thailand with a friend on 20th Feb for 5 ½ weeks to celebrate my 50th Birthday and after two weeks of travelling realised it was not the place for me - too many tourists!! Decided on visiting Laos, a Country I would never have thought would influence and affect me so much. My friend is not as travelled as me and didn’t fancy the 2 ½ day bus from Chaing Mai to Luang Prabang so we too the plane. On arrival we went straight to the bus station and took the overnight bus to Vientiene. Spent a few hours on the internet and went to see Thiery at Jules and decided to rent a couple of XR250’s for 15 days. Thiery was very helpful and showed us some routes and places to stay. Purchased the G-T 2009 map and the following day we started our trip West on the track next to the Mekong to Pak Lay

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    Luckily we missed the new road NE to Pak Lay and carried on along the Mekong and crossing the river heading for Kenethau

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    As we had left late in the morning we were running into dark so turned around before hitting Kenethau and stopped at a couple of houses and asked if we could stay the night and would they feed us ( try that in England!!!!) - no problem at all and we headed down to the river to wash the dust off us with the other locals and stopped the night with food for tea and breakfast.
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    The next morning we set off for Pak Lay and ended up reaching Xayaboury where my friend told me he was home sick, had enough and was going to fly home!!!

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    - following day rode up to Luang Praband
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    where we spent a couple of days sorting his return flight to Bangkok and home - I was on my own and that’s when I really started to enjoy myself not having to worry about someone else!!

    Headed up on the Tarmac road to Nam Khan where I stayed a couple of days with some local villagers but did a loop around Vieng Kham - Pak Xeng - Nam Khan on the second day.

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    Headed on up to Phongsali via Oudom Xai, Sin Xai and along the stony road to Boun Tai.

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    Spent a couple of nights at Phongslai and included a short trip to the Nham Khan river were I spent a few hours with a couple of guys who were doing a ‘huckleberry fin‘ adventure with a home made raft and a trip down the river to Luang Prabang

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    Headed on back down towards Luang Namtha but this time took the road South of Boun Tai avoiding the stony road - the new road was empty and I would recommend it to anyone but you really should be riding as a pair - there were about 6 water crossings on route but very interesting.

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    Stayed a couple of nights in Namtha and then went north to Muang Sing , Xieng Kok and then found the track down to Xieng Dao and then south to Houei Xai.

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    Next was my longest day in the saddle heading south to Pak Beng - south again over the Mekong and then to Muang Ngeun, Hongsa and then north up possibly my favourite track up to Luang Prabang - had my only puncture towards the end but just made it back before it got dark.

    Trendy Laos with nice Nike hat !!

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    Took a quick photo before rescuing the wheel/tyre form the exuberant locals! I used some sun tan lotion to help ease back on the tyre
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    Spent a couple of days in LP before taking the easy route back down to Vientiene

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    Laos has affected me in a way I could never imagine - so much so that I am planning to move over there with the wife and 4 teenage children - I understand its one thing to go there on holiday and another to live and I know the Country will change with time but I just want to have more of it whilst its still as it is.

    If I can be of help to anyone please just ask!

    Rob
     
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  3. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Very nice ride. You covered a lot of ground. I must say I find this pretty incredible;

    I'll reserve my thoughts as I don't know either of you and you say it worked out in the end to be better for you.

    It also sounds like you have had quite a life changing experience. Wow, I hope you think this one through. Let us know how it goes. Best of luck! :shock:
     
  4. Ally

    Ally Ol'Timer

    Thanks for sharing the pics & the emotions of your journey.

    Good luck with your relocation, lets hope the family recognise & appreciate what you see in the country and it's an all round success.

    Cheers

    Ally
     
  5. Speedy Stamps

    Speedy Stamps New Member

    Hi Rob,
    Thanks for a great report. We were in Laos five years ago and I'm itching to get back. It's a hidden treasure and I hope it can keep that in an ever developing western world. The roads are pretty good to!
     
  6. svenivan

    svenivan New Member

    Rob!

    Thank you for a wonderful report biking in Laos!

    I live in Chiang Rai, I have been to Laos but with the slow boat to Luang Prabang and also to Vientianne from Nong Kai.

    I am in a group of offroadriders that takes trips in northern Thailand.

    What you have reported makes me interested to make a trip to explore Laos.

    Can you give some info about renting a bike in Vientianne?

    Thanks for a very good report!
     
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

  8. rob reznik

    rob reznik Member

    It also sounds like you have had quite a life changing experience. Wow, I hope you think this one through. Let us know how it goes. Best of luck! :shock:[/quote:2xri2ulp]

    I suppose 3rd World Countries are not for everyone even when you have spent time in the comfort of your own western house investigating what 3rd world Countries are like? - my friend had only been abroad twice before and both times with me - once on a 3 day trip to Finland and then a 5 day overland trip to Poland. There was more to this than just being home sick - since returning home he admitted the severe stomach problems we were both experiencing made him feel low - for me this was just an inconvenience as I had experienced this type of problem many times before including a severe bout of Amoebic dysentery in India - my friend also liked to have his three showers per day and clean sheets - yep we could find this in Thailand but not Laos - I prefer to sleep under the stars with a dip in the local river to clean myself off - the dust and heat was also an issue and I’m a bit of an animal when it comes to riding preferring to start at 6.30 am and spending most of the day in the saddle - I think the thought of doing this for another 13 days helped him make his mind up! Ultimately this was my holiday and he asked if he could join in !

    With regard to moving to Laos? - well I didn’t have to think about it too long - most people call me an ’odd ball’ - I tend to make reasons to do things in life whereas all the people I know make excuses ’not’ to do things - we will keep out house in the UK and if it doesn’t work out we can go back .
     
  9. rob reznik

    rob reznik Member

    yep that link http://www.gt-rider.com/motorcycles-in- ... nformation shows most if not all of the bike hire companies - I can only give my personal experience and that was with 'jules' - Thiery the owner was extremely helpful to the point of even paying back the 12 unused days my friend didn’t have his bike for !!! :shock: :smile1: :clap:
     
  10. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Rob
    Enjoyed the report, great pics.
    Reminds me I have to get up there again next dry season.
     
  11. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    With regard to moving to Laos? - well I didn’t have to think about it too long - most people call me an ’odd ball’ - I tend to make reasons to do things in life whereas all the people I know make excuses ’not’ to do things - we will keep out house in the UK and if it doesn’t work out we can go back .
    Hmm, I guess, even though I agree with you that it is better to make reasons to do things rather than not-to-do things (I left my home country 34 years ago and still do not regret it and have lived recently in Laos for 2.5 years), that I also agree with Silverhawk about thinking things through.

    It would be good to do a bit more research on your options in Laos with regard to visa's, health services, education for your teenage kids and the costs of education, work and stay permits, and so on and see what is possible and what will cause problems in particular when taking the plunge with the whole family.
     
  12. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Rob
    Good luck with whatever decision you make, but before uprooting the whole family & totally changing their lives as well please look long & hard before you leap with them. My advice would be to take the family out there for school holidays 4-6 weeks & see how you all go. Then think about it some more, do 1 or two more bike trips in Laos & THEN make a decision if you think it might work for the whole family.

    Thanks for the trip report & photos - it is a beauty & certainly going to get people thinking about riding in Laos some more.
     
  13. rob reznik

    rob reznik Member

    I suppose I should explain a bit more rather than people assuming I’m going to Laos ‘blind’ and blasé !

    Whilst there I did have a number of conversations with a some Europeans who live there ( one for 13 years) about the logistics etc. I’m aware that it is virtually impossible to buy property or land as a foreigner ( phelang - not sure how to spell that one but it was the first word I learnt!) - there are ways to do this through a business but not simple at all. Visa’s can be extended and work permits are possible. If inflation keeps low over there we should already have enough savings to live there reasonably comfortably for a number of years although I am keen to work there and have already found employment if I want it - I am looking at cheap telecommunications from there so that my wife maybe able to set up a telesales business over there working for a UK based company - many calls from bank and financial institutions over here in the UK are actually made from India - I am hoping that setting up a company in Laos and employing the local people to work may smooth things a little but I assume the worst and then it can only be better.

    Health care is virtually non existent and most people go to Thailand for treatment - important in my case as one of our children is type 1 diabetic and requires regular supplies of insulin.

    I’m looking to go over myself with two of the children in September/October to set things up with the wife following sometime next year with the other two - she is confident in my/our decision and said as long as the family is together we will be OK - if it doesn’t work we can always come back - having been in sales all of her working life she is looking for a big change. Children in general all seem to be OK about it.

    Education is only a concern for two of the children as one is already finished and another will possibly stay here in the UK to go to Uni - she has support here from other family members and friends and said she is OK with the situation. The two younger children will be educated at home in Laos by me - children learn a lot quicker that adults and adapt better and the change will be an eductaion in itself - I never worked myself until I was 26 just travelling around the world - I felt it put many more years on my shoulders than staying in the UK - yes I did work but just long enough to earn money to carry on travelling.

    I have travelled extensively around the world over the years and during most 6 week summer holidays have toured with the Land Rover/Caravan and 4 children to many Countries.

    My mother tongue is German and I also speak French as well as English - I have a farm in Poland and visit the Country on a regular basis on route to the Ukraine where I buy parts for some of my vehicles ( hobby gone out of control ) - whilst they have been my life for the last few years on returning from Laos the trucks have become a burden and I have just sold them all to one buyer. I started up the website for them http://www.russianmilitarytrucks.com and have just handed it over so it now belongs to members.

    Yes I have given it a lot of thought and am still in regular contact with people who live over there - I’m meeting one of them in Germany at the end of this month to discuss other options of working for him in his tourist camp over there.

    On a final note this is a riders forum/website - am I OK posting this information here or should someone in admin move it somewhere else?

    See you on the road

    Rob
     
  14. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    I agree, it is a riders forum, which is why I didn't ask too many personal questions or offer personal opinions. Your replies are interesting and thanks for sharing with us. It sounds like a great adventure for you and the family and that you are not a newbie to such things.

    Personally, I have lived in Thailand since 2002, but I never really pursued what it would take to do the same in Laos, although I have logged many kilometers there. As I said already, best of luck and please keep us informed of how it goes. :thumbup:
     
  15. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    Hi Rob

    I'm overwhelm by your courage to decide moving over to Loas and by reading your insight and brief background of your
    traveliing experience and business exposure, I do positively think that you have the "right mission & vision" to make it in such a country.

    The locals from the rural areas are mostly poor peasants and the kids have limited education as compared to many of its neighbouring countries in this region. With expats who have the enthusiasm like you will contribute to the employment opportunities as well as economic benefits to a certain extent.

    Do let me know if I can lend so "small help" as my buddy is a Country Head of a foreign bank in Vientiane.

    Regards

    Lip Meng
     
  16. burnjr

    burnjr Ol'Timer

    nice trip bro..enjoy 3rd country scenery..
    i like it. :happy4: :happy2:
     
  17. petercorthouts

    petercorthouts New Member

    Hi Rob,

    Looks like a really nice trip. I would like to do the same in october. Would you mind sharing a more detailed itinerary?

    Cheers
    P
     
  18. rob reznik

    rob reznik Member

    well I'm returning on the 18th October for a few weeks and am interested to see how the weather has affected the road conditions compared to March - I'm assuming from the end of October the weather is stable or is there still heavy rain?
     
  19. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    Hi Rob,

    Difficult to say how the weather will be in October. Normally the rainy season stops around October/November but that is not etched in stone. The rainy season started late this year and there has been a lot or rain lately. Last week the road north from Vientiane (about 20 km north of Vientiane) was flooded for some time and motorbikes had to be transported by tractor over a small stretch on Rd 13 as the water was about 50 cm. deep.

    The only thing you can expect with some certaincy is that a lot of the unpaved roads will be muddy and that there will be much less dust when compared with your previous visit. Here is a trip report from September last year which may give you some idea of what you can expect: northern-laos-on-an-er6n-september-2009-t6585.html

    Best is to talk with Jim from Remote Asia (sponsor of this forum) in Vientiane when you arrive in Laos as he is the guy who should have all the latest information on roads and riding conditions.
     
  20. rob reznik

    rob reznik Member

    Thanks for the info - I want to spend most of my time on the tracks and this time am getting a DRZ400 as I have my daughter with me who cant ride so need something with a bit more power - I'm assuming the water crossings will be more difficult or impossible and that the roads will have big holes or even disappeared in small sections.

    Nice Enfield by the way - I also have one here in the UK and tried a trip down to Cape Town on it down the West coast of African until I was 'T' boned and smashed the front of the bike puting me in hospital with broken ribs - its also an Indian one and delivers over 100mpg's - made a few mods to it including 5 speed box.

    Sorry going off topic :oops: - thanks again

    Rob
     
  21. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    :) Falang (actually farang wich should probably come from farangset, "the French" and first foreigners they met). But as Lao (and Thai) are not good in rolling "rrrrs" it becomes "falang"!

    I share your love with Laos (but I also love most Thais, particularly Northern and Isan people). Thank you for posting your precious pictures and for your incentive to be on these roads.
     
  22. rob reznik

    rob reznik Member

    Hi - what are the current conditions like on and off road? - is it still raining hard or easing off?

    cheers in advance
     
  23. helbob

    helbob Ol'Timer

    Nice pics, thanks for sharing :happy5:
     
  24. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    Just rode today from Luang Prabang to Vientiane and encountered a few heavy downpours along the way. Earlier this week most of the times it was dry with a little bit of rain but nothing serious. Dirt roads were most of the time quite dry and even dusty. Don't know the conditions about the other parts of Laos but apparently there was heavy rain in the south last week with rice fields flooded around Savannakhet.
     
  25. rob reznik

    rob reznik Member

    thanks for the info - will be arriving in Laos on the 21st Oct
     
  26. rreznik

    rreznik Member

    Hi - just thought I would update anyone who was interested in my move.

    I've been living in Luang Prabang since December 2010 and have enjoyed every minute :D - I arrived with my 16 year old daughter who stayed here with me until sept 2011 when we returned to the UK for a short period. Have my 18 year old also who took a gap year and is now teaching English at a local school. They have both (unlike me!) picked the language up very easily. I bought a Honda Baja and Pajero but have not done that many miles so far - the dry season is now here and I'm sure that will change!

    If anyone needs any local info just ask - I had major problems logging in and in the end decided to set up a new username so apologies if there is confusion.

    Rob
     

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