Adventure Riding Southern Laos - Ride Report

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by brian_bkk, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    G'day All,

    Recently back from a fantastic 9 day ride in Southern Laos with Chris and Mike.
    Chris took some time out from Moto Lao based in Luang Prabang to join us..

    Big effort for him to meet us at Muang Nong.. Well done..

    Basically we crossed Chong Mek / Vang Tao.. Then turned left a few KM after the border and dirt to the boat over the Mekong.
    Then back on the 13 until we could get on to some dirt to ride up to Savan..
    Savan to Xepon.. Xepon to Muang Nong and the Big Bamboo Bridge and down to Ta Oy..
    Tay Oy to Kerlerm.. (Spelling) abandoned town due to new dam.. Then on to Sekong for the night.
    Before heading up the mountains to ride along the HCMTrail and some unique scenery along some remote trails heading to the Xekeman river.
    Then on to Attapue.. Before taking in Lake Nong Fa, extinct Volcano 1,200 metres above sea level, then back to ride along the trails on the Lao Cambodia border.
    Back to Attapue and the next day 18 A upper track to Pakse for lunch then Thailand and the night train back to Bangkok..

    Short video here.. Where we went looking for adventure.. we didn't find it.
    Where we expected an easy ride.. we found adventure...



    More to come....
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    That's some adventure ride - excitement plus.
    Normally I don't look at the VDOs too much, but this one is excitement plus.
    A ripper. Well done. TQ.
     
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  4. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Great editing, wonderful story.
     
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  5. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Sorry for the delay.. Started the post and then realized a load of the early pics on my phone and need to BT them to my MAC.

    Bike all ready to go.. Engine rebuild after 65,000 km.
    Ohlins front forks serviced and oil changed after 10k plus KM...

    Finally get to try out the Giant Loop bag Rexy bought back for me from Australia,
    What a winner.. Wish I had spunked up the cash years back now..

    The KLX looking a winner..
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    Still nice and clean.... for the moment ;-)

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    I ride off and meet Mike down the road and we head to the train station together.

    Not sure who was more shocked at each others appearance.

    Me with Mike in flip flops, jeans and T-shirt
    Mike with me full Enduro Battle gear riding through downtown Bangkok Friday rush hour

    Bikes dropped off with time for a coffee while we wait for our train.

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    Quick check to make sure all in order before we get on the train.

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    Ubon station all friendly as usual.

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    At one point they use to remember me. But rides with the train south have become less frequent.


    Chong Mek the same as usual.. No real change.
    Helpful as ever and a breeze to cross.

    The Lao side is a big construction site.
    Now when you cross they want you to go the right immediately.
    Register you are there in a little booth near the gate where the pedestrians cross...
    They just recorded passport and green book details.
    ( This is a first for me )

    Then make you way to the old building.. to the left in this picture..
    They insisted I ride on the new concrete.. Very proud..
    We just parked between the concrete beams.
    Usual forms, photo, visa on arrival, customs, Insurance
    Then register and final check 200 metres down the road..

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    The full scale of things...

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    The road is upgraded all the way to Pakse now.. Just missing some white lines.. but not really needed.
    As you saw in the video ;-)

    It is a toll road.. bikes are free..

    For those interested in the train and bikes.

    There are new trains from China running the tracks now.. There is no cargo on these.
    So guess.. you are best to try and get your bike on the older earlier train so you are not waiting for it
    Or when you ring to book your ticket or go down to the station. Ask for the train that you can put your bike on..
    These trains will be phased out eventually.. So "logic" would say..
    They will have to run a regular cargo train a few times a day.. As there is plenty of people moving things back and forth..

    Doesn't bother me as I will just buy the cheapest ticket and fly after dropping the bike.

    Costs for sleeper is around.. approx.. 1300 for the lower bunk and 1100 for the upper bunk.
    Or as Mike and I did.. You can book the entire cabin for extra 500 baht on top of the lower bunk cost.
    Well worth it.. Once had to share with an old German that had to get up and pee every 1 hr all night long..... Sigh..

    Bikes were around 1,100 baht may be 900 baht.. can't remember..
    You can't book the bike on until the day.. The station asks that you are there 1 hr before


    More to come....
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
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  6. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Just to add...
    Carrying a bunch of tools. Levers, 3 tubes camping gear and warm clothes.. water filter food.

    The new body armour purchased at paddock was great. Folded up nicely so wasn't too bulky..

    Will sort out a pic soon
     
  7. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    The rest of the pics.. Like the video is a contribution from all riders on the trip.
    Chris, Mike and me..

    The track is a little bumpy to start with.. Then sandy and dusty
    There was still a little water around.. Some what late for this time of the year.

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    Then you arrive at the town along the Mekong.. Very easy to miss the ferry turn off.
    Basically next to or through the temple.. I went past and realized and we doubled back.

    Lat 15.26437 Lon 105.65089

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    Almost ready to go

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    G'day to old mate..

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    We are off.. This is a really wide stretch of the Mekong... You really feel small out here.

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    When I did this a couple of years back with James Franey.
    The other side was incredibly steep, through a narrow alley way behind someones house.
    Pleasantly surprised to see the track up to the right of the town. Then up and head back to the Route 13 and head north.

    The skipper was a really friendly lovely old fella.. Always smiling.. As I was about to ride off the boat..
    Realized I hadn't paid for us.. he didn't even blink.. I quickly stopped and gave him the money .. he just smiled.

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    Make our way and back to the 13 and on to Savan..

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    A bit later on.. A buffalo to the right facing the bush.. Just jumped back around in to the road and darted in front of me.
    Mike saw the entire thing.. In a split second.. Brake.. but felt the rear lock, let go and just rode around it..
    Rather than skidding in to the beast...

    These two guys had their 'Cock' out...
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    Then we peel off and ride dirt to the stone house.
    After Rex's report. Wanted to check this place out..

    As I am riding down the track heading towards the river.. A local hears me coming, as i am going around him.
    Looks over his shoulder to his left and of course starts to veer across the track while looking at me.
    I was already committed and he ran me off the road.. accidentally.. No biggy as on the KLX and just carried on..

    The Stone House.

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    " HEUN HIN (STONE HOUSE)
    Heun Hin literally means "Stone House" and is believed to have been one of the 121 rest houses constructed by King Jayavarman VII (1181-1218) along the roads which once connected every corner of the Khmer Empire. Therefore, it shares similar characteristics with Wat Phou in Champasak and Phimai Temple in Thailand. An annual festival is held in the full moon night in April. "
    HEUN HIN (STONE HOUSE)

    How to get there:

    Lat 16.21476 Lon 105.03139

    From Savannakhet city take Route 9B south to Ban Lak 35 and continue a further 3 kilometers before turning right. After 10 kilometers you will reach Xaiphoutoung town, turn left and get along the Mekong River about 16 kilometers then you will reach to the house.

    Open daily from 8:00am - 4:00pm.
    Located along Route No.13


    Here is me thinking.. We will ride dirt in to Savan..
    Basically the road is paved 8 or 10 km from the Stone House heading all the way to Savan.
    We were not complaining as now it was getting dark and cattle all over the road.

    Dinner in Savan at the square and ready for the next days ride..

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    Today's route.
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    More to come.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2017
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  8. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    This is no doubt the beginning of another epic BrianBkk Laos trip report.
    The Pha Taem National Park shown on the map above looks amazing when riding up hwy 13. I reckon it would be good to check out at some stage.
    Was the monkey in residence when you arrived at the temple?

    Moto-Rex
     
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  9. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    I did give that national park a good going over on Google earth..
    Worth a look around but couldn't see many ways to get through. Look quite mountainous and tracks along the Mekong stop when reaching the creeks running in to the mekong
     
  10. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    No monkey at the stone house.
    It was only 20 mins from dark..
    So very quick look around and head on to savan. Last part of the ride was on the dark
     
  11. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Off to Xepon..

    As we had plenty of time we thought we would go the nicer creative way and avoid the highway.
    In hindsight. Wished we had just blasted to Xepon.

    The way we went is mostly paved now and a few fun bridges left.. But mostly new bridges
    Where not paved.. Potholes and dusty and generally not that great.

    There was still some fun experiences..

    Sand.. Pattaya weekend riding came in handy here..
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    Locals

    Love that surprised look you get when they see you dressed up as a Power Ranger.

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    Bridges

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    Standing on the pegs, blasting through rocks and bull dust..
    See a dog bouncing around to my left.. Open the throttle to get past..
    Thinking it could jump in front of me. Sure enough.. As soon as I open the throttle..

    Bang.. Under the front wheel.. Hardly felt it.
    Big thud and crash in to the bash plate.
    Under the rear wheel.. Didn't feel a thing..

    I didn't look back.. Mike saw the dog after. said it was in a bad way.
    Expect it didn't sit there long before ending up in the hot pot.

    Not a pleasant thing to happen.. But the logic of hitting them straight on is the way to go.

    A roundabout..
    The local nearby really thought I was going to park here for the day LOL.

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    We made it to Xepon..
    Some what dusty and fillings rattling in our teeth.

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    Hotel ornaments
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    Hot pot for dinner a couple of doors down from the Hotel.
    Of course sponsoring our friends Kay and Noah with the T-shirt ;-)
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    The route.
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    More to come..
     
  12. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Some really terrific photos...
     
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  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Outrageous fun & trip.

    I love this bridge photo.
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  14. FaraGit

    FaraGit Ol'Timer

    Proper stuff! Great vid and pics.

    Unfortunate about the dog. Did the same in Kanchanaburi. Dog sprinted across the road as I was doing about 110 on my versys. I braked as much as I could then hit the throttle as impact was imminent otherwise I would have gone over the top. Lost a few pounds during the tank slapper and wobble!
     
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  15. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    That is my worst nightmare.. Hitting a dog on a road bike at speed.

    Had two near "Dog" incidents..

    One backed off by a nose.. The other sprinted in front of me
     
  16. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Ol'Timer Staff Member

    You are very lucky. Some of my pals almost lost their lives in similar situations.
    This happened to my Phuket buddy, I was right behind him when he struck and killed the cow in Cambodia.

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  17. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Chris had contacted us when we crossed the border and decided to take some time out from Moto Lao and ride all the way down from Luang Prabang and meet us.. Off road as much as possible.

    He didn't make Xepon but pretty close.. We decided to push on to Muang Nong, Check out the Big Bamboo bridge and see what the time is and where Chris is and make a plan from there...

    Excellent quality road up to Dong from Xepon.. Then turn right to head to Muang Nong.
    There is a museum with loads is USA hardware on the corner of the main road and the turn off.
    We just had a look from the out side.. Have been in side before..
    Interesting if you are a war junkie.. They opened the place up for me last time. The only visitor.

    Pics from previous trip
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    Sadly the road is now paved all the way to Muang Nong..
    Just an 8km may be more stretch in the middle where it is dirt.
    But easy Dirt and can be done on a Versys sitting at 80 kph.

    I am sure a lot of road bikers would love to get to the Big Bamboo bridge.
    You could do it on a road bike.. But make sure it is dry.
    If you are a bit skittish on dirt or worry about dropping it.. Then see if you can get some one to take you from the village.
    Dirt track is about 3 or so km to the bridge.. Worth making the effort.

    (Goran, easily doable on your GS)

    From Nong side
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    From the village side.
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    A close up look
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    Mike enjoying the moment.
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    Back towards the Nong side of the river

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    What a winner. Never get tired of visiting.

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    How it looks on a sunny day
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    More to come.
     
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  18. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    If you continue on a kilometre or so past the Big Bamboo turn off..
    You come across Little Bamboo bridge

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    10,000 kip same a Big Bamboo.
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    A closer look

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    Worth a look if you have time.. If you follow the track on you can do a loop at Rex did in his report.
    Taking in the rapids 15 or 20 km down stream..

    More to come..
     
  19. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Chris a still a fair way off.. We still have the entire day left..
    So decide to push on to Ta Oy the way Jim and I rode last time.
    Then if Chris is at Muang Nong or Xepon.. We will ride up the HCMtrail track and meet him at Big Bamboo.

    We have a few days buffer up our sleeve and this is good riding..
    My only concern is how wet it had been and the rivers are high..
    There is a big river crossing at the end of the track we will take today...

    Off we go.. Take a left out of town.. Through some creeks and dusty roads..
    Over the mountain....

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    We get to the bottom of the mountain 25 km away from Nong.. Mike's big is dead...

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    We check all the fuses and a bunch of other things.. no go...
    Remember.. We are mechanical dummies.

    Only one thing for it.. Towing Mike back 25 km.

    I was really thinking.. How the hell will I get him up this hill.
    The pics don't show it. But it is steep and big holes with rocks etc. Steep ups and downs.
    I don't want to burn my clutch out too..

    We made it this far with out stopping or having an off until now.. Amazingly.
    The first off...

    The ruts are like train tracks..
    I have to keep to the left as much as possible so Mike and the rope don't tangle up and we both come off..

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    The camera lies how steep and how big the holes are...
    We pushed the bike up to the left of where I am standing.

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    So happy when we made it to the top.. only 20 km to go.....
    Towing along the ups and down.. Getting speed up on the downs so can make it on the ups.

    Through creeks
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    Made for some interesting handling experiences.. But the Mighty KLX did the job..

    Back we go to Nong.. Try and see if the local bike shop can fix it..
    This fuse was gone.. Funnily enough.. There is no spare for this.

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    A spare for all the other fuses.. We didn't even know where to look for this one...
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    But still no go....

    In the mean time. Chris had been in touch.. He was a Xepon and decided to push on and meet us at Nong.
    This was when we realised one of the Pins in the ECU was bent after being taken out on the track.
    When put back in.. bent.. Straighten that out and she fired up...

    Game on...
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    So we have a late afternoon in Nong to look around and a few beers..

    The GH
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    Free fuel with a bang...
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    A sign demonstrating a safe way to setup a fire in case there is UXO under the ground.
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    Beer o'clock along the road watching the world go past.

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    Plus it was cold at night...

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    Muang Nong is in the middle of the track.. The left then right for 25 km before we had to turn back..
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    More to come..
     
  20. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    This is starting to sound epic. Carry on.
     
  21. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    It would have been a quite night in Nong. Lights out at 7pm??
    No discos in Nong, but...they do have good auto electricians by the look of it. ;)
     
  22. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    G'Day David / Rexy,

    Need to sit and edit the next batch of pics.. Which takes time when working and riding full time ;-)
    Plus you need to be in the mood..

    Nong wasn't too bad considering.
    Bunch of yanks there looking for bones.. Hired some helicopter pilots out of VTE.
    Same deal as what goes on in Ta Oy.

    Seems like a big jolly to me.. all on the piss.. Seemed pretty relaxed.

    There are two bars with food that had music playing. So with that crowd there.
    The nights were pretty lively actually..

    They had booked out the new GH on the main road.. But the old original with Bombs out the front still had plenty of room
    Plus a few of them staying there.. I think there were there for 2 months.. Can't remember now..
    Now that is a long time to be in Nong.....

    The weather was cold, wet and terrible.. The pilots said as soon as you make it half way to Ta oy and get off the plateau.. The skies are blue and sunny.. Which is exactly how it happened the next day..
    Who would think such a change in 60 plus KM

    Cheers
    Brian
     

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