2014 GTR Mekong Boat trip. Part 1. Chiang Mai - Houei Xai - Luang Prabang

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    A new GTR tradition - the annual Mekong boat, bikes, & beer trip - sailing the spectacular Mekong.

    2014 Participants
    Brian Moto Mania Ennion - KLX250
    Tony Bkk - KLX 250
    Ron Webb - CRF 250
    Oddvar - CRF 250
    Robert Hoghead - Versys 650
    Richard Rodda - Versys 650
    Jurgen - Versys 650
    Dave Carrel - BMW F800

    Some earlier GTR Mekong boat trips

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/25834-Laos-Expedition-2004

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/26465-Losing-my-Laos-Cherry

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/28260-The-Mekong-Boat-amp-Lost-Rider-Trip

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/37975-Early-Mekong-Boat-Trip

    The Mekong is the world's biggest river not navigable by large boats, because of its rocky reef ridden dangerous nature. And it is always a spectacular trip, no matter how long it is. The trick is to hire your own boat, get a few good natured compatible mates together & off you go with a whole boat to yourself. Far better than going on the regular passenger boats. Do it in style, relax, enjoy, have fun....... & what a great time we had, off & on board the boat.

    THE WAY
    Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai - Chiang Khong Houei Xai
    Houei Xai - Luang Prabang
    Luang Prabang 3 nights
    Luang Prabang - Pak Lay via the Sayabouly dam
    Pak Lay
    Pak Lay split up & return however wherever whatever
    Pak Lay - Loei - Udon - Cnx for David Unk.

    THE TRIP..
    This year the trip started off with a bang - I dumped the Versys on a greasy stretch of R118 a mere 60 kms out of Chiang Mai.

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/39603-Ooops-done-it-yet-again-another-spill

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    In a state of shock I honestly thought my trip was over,

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    but Hoghead came to the rescue getting his driver & pick up out from Cnx to pick both me & the bike up to transport to Chiang Khong. I was able to continue on as "normal" albeit bike-less. Many thanks Robert.

    I arrived in CK about 40 minutes behind the other guys & we were over the border - riding across the bridge & me in a Thai Immigration escort car leading the way.

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    The start of bike loading in Houei Xai, for a 7am departure.

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    That night pre trip drinks to get the show rolling

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    We also met up with Goran from Phuket for a few ales in HX & it was a particularly enjoyable evening swapping tales & info on the S E Asia motorcycle touring scene.

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    Yay there Goran - brilliant meeting you in HX & well done riding across the bridge too.

    Loads more to come...
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Day 2 Houeui Xai - Luang Prabang
    Up at sun rise & down to the boat landing & get away on time at 7AM.
    Yeehar.

    The sun comes out not long after we set sail

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    into the fog we go

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    To my amazement the skipper has a GPS on board

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    & the story is there are 6 units with the Lao Mekong port authorities
    2 in Bo Keo.
    2 in Pak Beng
    2 in Luang Prabang
    Supplied by the Chinese & available for use by the boat skippers - free.
    However the skipper does not like or trust them so much; & our second boat skipper from LPQ - Pak Lay was the same.
    Whilst the GPS may be right & follows the deepest safest (& longest) channel, the boat skipper claim they know from experience where & when they can corner cut & save time & fuel. You don't always have to follow the longest, deepest channel.
    And in the thick fog that morning we had to hove to for for 45 minutes, to wait for the fog to clear near some rapids - all exciting stuff, believe me. They did not want to rely on the GPS.

    The bikes stored on board

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    you could take more bikes, but then the space on the boat becomes quite restricted if you want to walk up & down to enjoy the views from wherever. So 8-10 bikes is the maximum I reckon.

    It was gets unbelievable chilly on the boat once it gets moving & most guys rug up in the blankets provided.

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    Coffee time for Richard

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    Beer time for others

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    The river topography varies from narrow rocky channels with myriads of rocks just above & below the surface, to wide calm shallow bodies of water.
    There is so much variety to see it is hard to know what & where to look all the time.

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    Once the skipper has picked his line through the rapids he seemed to power on, then in wide shallow channels they seemed to slow right down, concerned about the lack of depth & running aground.

    River life.....timeless

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    Chilling out on board

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    Eventually even Jurgen takes a break from photography & submits to a beer

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    Powering on..most of the time

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    It was never too cold for a beer

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    more to come....lots more in fact.
     
  4. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Great pics David!!! Thanks again for putting this together- I'll never forget it! :clap:
     
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    More river scenes Houei Xai - Luang Prabang

    Beautiful white sandy beaches

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    Rocks

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    The new bridge for Pak Beng

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    The ferry landing by the new bridge

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    Pak Beng

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    Beautiful tree

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    Pak Ou

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    Bath time for the monks

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  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The boat comes up short in LPQ - the bikes have disembark at a new port several kilometres up stream.
    A bit of confusion & tension at the time, because we want to get the bikes off at the main concrete pier downtown.
    But nope supposedly you're not allowed to unload cargo there, or you have to pay an extra fee to do so.
    Whatever we go with the flow.

    Here we discover that Dave Carrell is worth his weight in gold unloading bikes.

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    Unbelievably the only other guy who gave Dave a run for his money in the muscle department was the tiny Lao deckhand guy. He was not fazed one little about muscling the bikes around. A genuine Lao Hercules if he ever was.

    A BIG THANK YOU to Dave Carrel for making the bike unloading & loading so easy.

    Thanks to all the guys who made it & made part 1 so damn enjoyable & relaxing.
     
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    News update on the bridge:

     

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