Along the Edges... a 15 day N. Thailand/Laos Loop

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Rfgannon, Jun 5, 2004.

  1. Rfgannon

    Rfgannon New Member

    Along the Edges

    A 15 day Northern Thailand and Northern Laos Loop on a rental bike at the start of the rainy season, May 2004

    I have gained much information and advice from this web site and am submitting my trip report as a service for others.

    My name is Bob Gannon. I am flying a single engine 1968 Cessna 182 airplane around the world, http://www.earthrounders.com. I left the USA four years ago and my airplane; Lucky Lady Too (LLT) is now parked 15 kilometers southeast of Chiang Mai at a private airstrip. I fly a leg of my world flying adventure then park LLT and return to the USA commercially. Each leg takes about 30-45 days. I return to the USA commercially for 2-3 months to take care of business and plan the next leg. I have just finished my 13th leg. I drove LLT from one end of the airstrip to the other but never flew her this leg. Instead I did a motorcycle trip thru northern Thailand and northern Laos. Over the last 4 years I have parked LLT in Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, twice in New Zealand and three times in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Borneo Malaysia and now twice in Thailand. The flying adventure isn’t just about flying. I approach it as if it is the only chance I have in seeing that particular country and so try to create experiences that are worthwhile for the area, i.e. scuba dive, hike, cattle drives, festivals, especially meeting local people, etc. One of the legs in New Zealand I never flew but instead did a 3,000 kilometer motorcycle trip around the south island and then hiked the Milford Track. I desired to create a similar experience in northern Thailand and northern Laos and to see the hill tribes up close.

    The last leg of my flying trip (Dec./ Jan 2004) I flew from Kuching, Malaysia up through Peninsula Malaysia to Hat Yai, Krabi, Bang Phra, Ban Thi, Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang, Laos, Vientiane, Da Nang, Vietnam, Phonm Penh, Cambodia, Ratankiri, Siem Reap, U-Tapao, Thailand, Phitsanulok and back to Ban Thi airstrip (outside of Chiang Mai). Returning to Chiang Mai in early May, 2004 I stumbled upon David Unkovich’s map, The Mae Hong Son Loop, while renting a 125 cc motorbike from Mr. Mechanic for transportation around town and out to the airfield where LLT was parked. I later rented a 250 Honda from Mr. Mechanic and took off on a 4 day, Mae Hong Son Loop with overnights in Pai, Mae Hong Son, and Mae Sarieng. I made side trips to visit the long neck girls at Nai Soi (why do they call them Long Neck people when it is only the women who subscribe to the weighty custom?) and to the border river town of Mae Sam Laep. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and wanted to do a larger loop of northern Thailand and northern Laos. However, upon further investigation the problem arose that I would need a ‘number plate’ motorcycle to enter Laos from Thailand and there were no licensed plate dirt bikes in Chiang Mai. Researching the web site, http://www.GT-Rider.com, indicated that most Laos bikers rented in Vientiane and just did that country. Mr. Mechanic knew of my desire and tried to contact David Unkovich but he was away in Laos. A chat with several others in the know at Sax’s bar indicated that it was the start of the rainy season and their advice was it was too late to do the 197 k. dirt track from Huay Xai to Luang Nam Tha. A fellow countryman who runs a motorcycle touring company out of Chiang Mai said I should just come ride with him around northern Thailand since I would not be able to accomplish what I desired. I am not much of a groupie (I grew up with 13 brothers and sisters) and actually prefer traveling solo most of the time. Solo travelers realize the unique experiences that arise due to their oneness that do not happen when there is a companion. Going back to Mr. Mechanic I even discussed the possibility of the purchase of one of his bikes to do a Thai/Laos trip. My enthusiasm eventually lead him to direct me to a motorcycle vendor in Chiang Rai who had Honda 250’s with number plates that could be rented for a trip like I desired. Persistence paid off. Thank you Mr. Mechanic. You are a kind and generous man.

    Having hangared and locked up LLT, I took the bus to Chiang Rai and check into The Golden Triangle Inn, two blocks down the street from ST Motorcycle (053-713-652), and by 3:00pm had the necessary paperwork and a good looking Honda 250 cc dirt bike (#32). The manager, Seksit Chotivachira, and his sister knew of my plans and filled out the necessary paperwork that I would later present to Ann Tours in Chiang Khong for entry into Laos and back into Thailand. Most cycle vendors require your passport as a deposit on the bike rented. Being I would need my passport to get into Laos and back into Thailand, ST required a cash deposit of 50,000 baht in lieu of the passport. They also gave me the option of purchasing the bike for 65,000 baht. Fortunately, I had US $1,000 and 10,000 baht on me and preferred to rent rather than buy. I said I would be back in a week to 10 days and prepaid 7 days rent (1,000 baht per day). I had rented an unlicensed Honda 250 from Mr. Mechanic for the Mae Hong Son loop for 500 baht/day (off-season) and I am told that renting in Vientiane is less than 1000 baht per day but I did not want to backtrack any more than I had to and instead do a giant loop through northern Thailand and Laos. The manager of ST bike even gave me an extra clutch handle, brake handle, spark plug, extra ignition key, padlock and key to lock the bike up and a can of lubricant. I thought this was evidence of how good the vendor was. I happen to have a REI (USA outdoor retailer) waterproof duffel bag in the airplane and with bungee cords it strapped down to the rear of the bike snuggly and provided a backrest as well. I had bought a rain suit (Thai size XL = USA size Medium) for the Mae Hong Son loop and drove around Chiang Rai in the rain late that first afternoon to ensure all systems were a go. Leaving my extra bags at The Golden Triangle Inn I departed the following morning on my northern Thailand/northern Laos loop.

    May 18, 2004 Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong

    From Chiang Rai I headed north to the Thai/Burma border town of Mae Sai then south on 1290 to the Golden Triangle stopping for a look at the Opium Museum, Chiang Saen and onto Chiang Khong. I pulled into Chiang Khong at 3:00pm and handed over the paperwork that ST Motorcycle had prepared to the manager of Ann Tour, Anirut Ngeroome. He said for 5,600 baht he would do all the paperwork needed to exit Thailand and enter Laos for the motorcycle, my Laos visa, ferry both of us across the Mekong River and reentry back into Thailand at Vientiane. I thought this a bit much and he reduced the fee to 5,100 baht of which I agreed upon. For the frequent Thai/Laos biker who can speak the language I am sure this can all be done personally and at a much-reduced price than what I paid. However, for someone who has difficulty with the only language he knows I thought it prudent to have all the paperwork in order. In hindsight I would not have done it any different as by 10:00am the next morning Mr. Ngeroome was personally escorting me and the bike thru Thailand immigration and customs, onto a ferry and then handed me off to his associate on the Laos side who then personally escorted me thru the Laos immigration and customs, put the necessary stickers on my bike and waved me off by 11:30am from Huay Xai. In Chiang Khong I stayed at the Riverside or Bamboo G/H? It is only 4-5 years old, built by an ex-Bangkok couple and their daughter. He is the only person in town that is a musician and the only one with a goatee and long hair. And theirs is the only place in Chiang Khong that serves Mexican food! Lovely place. Great people. And damn good quesidilles.

    May 19, 2004 Chiang Khong to Vieng Phoukha

    Heading north from Huay Xai I had to slip into my rain gear at Poung (31 k. north) and was rained on all the way to Vieng Phoukha where I pulled in to the G/H around 3:30pm. I only saw two busses (both in a ravine putting chains around their tires) and three trucks (all at the bottom of a hill trying to pull each other up) on this route. Other postings on this web site complain of the dust they had to eat on the Huay Xai – Luang Nam Tha route. Do this route in the rain and you will eliminate the dust problem and increase the adventure!

    May 20, 2004 Vieng Phoukha to Luang Nam Tha

    It rained all night and was still coming down hard the next morning when I departed for Luang Nam Tha. I wondered if I should wait as I slid down the hill north of Phoukha but figured I could always turn around if things got too bad. The red clay must have a high content of bentonite as it is as slick as snot when wet. But that is why I have a dirt bike and this is the adventure I wanted! There are numerous stream crossings on the route from Vieng Phoukha to Luang Nam Tha. I was warned about the depth and swiftness of the stream crossings during the wet season. The last water crossing before Luang Nam Tha was the deepest and swiftest. I was on one side trying to decide if I should wade out into it to determine the depth and if there were any obstructions that might knock me off the bike when a young Laotian lad appeared on the other side. Putting my arms up in question he pointed the direction I should traverse the stream. It was easily 2 feet plus deep and swift but I succeeded forging it with the only consequence being my boots were full of water on the other side. I found the log culverts on the Huay Xai- Luang Nam Tha road to be as challenging in the rain as the slick red mud. You travel thru the National Biodiversity Conservation Area on this stretch that has stunning scenery. Arriving in Luang Nam Tha I stopped at the bank to exchange some money. I was so muddy and waterlogged I stood outside the bank door and handed them my US dollars so as not to dirty up their floor. It takes a lot of Laos kip to travel around the country but a US dollar goes a long way! The exchange rate was 10,400 kip to US $1. To refill the gas tank every 150 k. or so cost about 25,000 kip. A room for the night will cost you between 10,000 to 25,000 kip. A good meal of fried vegetables with chicken and a large bowl of sticky rice about 10,000 kip. A large bottle of a great beer, a gulping 9,000 kip.

    I am 6’1” and weigh 220 lbs. My orange rain pants size Thailand XL had finally ripped out in the crotch. They were too short to cover my boots and I had been using plastic baggies to cover the gap since the Mae Hong Son Loop. The pants were no longer of any use so I went to the local market in Luang Nam Tha and located a couple of empty orange Laos rice sacks. Purchasing them along with a nail for a needle, some thin green cord for thread and large rubber bands allowed me to create two leggings that served me well-enough for the rest of my trip and always brought big smiles from the locals. The orange rice sacks matched my orange Thai raincoat keeping me fashion conscious.

    May 21, 2004 Luang Nam Tha to Muang Sing to local Chinese Border crossing to Luang Nam Tha to Boten (Laos/China International Border Crossing)

    I especially enjoyed the Thailand/Burma border area between Mae Hong Son and Mae Sam Laep and so headed up to Muang Sing. The main market here was the biggest opium market in the Golden Triangle during the French days. I was offered the sale of marijuana along with opium by an elderly Akha tribeswoman in front of the Information Center that had a large sign stating ‘Drugs are Illegal in Laos’. I ran up to the local border crossing for a photo opportunity then back to check on a trek. It was off season and there seemed to be of little interest so I continued back to Luang Nam Tha and then headed north to Boten, the Laos/China International Border Crossing. The road east out of Luang Nam Tha was crowed with people harvesting sticky rice. Got some great video and still photos along here. It was 4:00pm by the time I reached Boten and decided that it would be an interesting village to stay the night. Being the only falang in town that night I was soon invited for beers at several venues. Then out of nowhere the girls showed up. One of them caught my attention, or was it the other way around? I gestured to what her name was and she replied “Sing”. She gestured to what my name might be and I said, “Call me Bob”. She said, “Call me?” I said that would do. So, her name was “Sing” and my name was “Call Me”. Not much English spoken up here but it is interesting how much communication one can have with someone of the opposite sex when their is attraction and intuition. After way too many beers, I paid not to play and she escorted me back to my G/H where we fondly shook hands. I went to bed and she went to get a paying customer from the truck lot. It was a fun night but the head was a bit thick the next morning when I departed for Udom Xai.

    May 22, 2004 Boten to Udom Xai to Muang Beng to Udom Xai to Pak Mong to Nong Khiaw

    Heading south from Boten I met the first pair of push bikers of my trip. They were heading for China. An hour later I stopped and visited with a German couple also headed for China. They had left a year ago, biked South Africa then East Africa. Shipping their bikes to Singapore they had come up thru Thailand, Vietnam and into Laos and were headed north into China. Been gone a year and were looking quite brisk and in good spirits for their endeavor. In Udom Xai over lunch I met an American couple who had just arrived from Muang Ngoi (up river by boat from Nong Khiaw) and suggested I get to Nong Khiaw by 2:00pm to catch the last boat up the river to Muang Ngoi and stay at a place called Ning Ning that had impressed them very much. I had a quick lunch and departed in hopes of making good time. 6 k’s out of Udom Xai is the turnoff that I missed and instead of heading east I headed southwest (the sun didn’t seem right to me and yet I drove by all those concrete sign posts?) for 80 k’s to Muang Beng before waking up to my error. To make matters worse I had ran over a small chicken coming thru Muang Beng and now was going to have to retrace my tracks. Would there be a lynching party waiting for me? One encounters a lot of different animals on the roads of Laos; water buffalo, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, and children to name a few. Of all of these chickens are the most difficult to determine which direction they will run as you approach them. I guessed wrong on the direction this time and the chicken guessed wrong on how fast I was going. Fortunately, when I returned back thru the village there was no lynching party nor dead chicken in the road. There will be chicken in a pot tonight in Muang Beng! Due to my error in direction I didn’t make Nong Khiaw till 5:00pm. I like to get checked into a a G/H while there is still daylight. It gives me time to wash my clothes, shower, and have a look around before catching a sunset drink. It was too late to go up the river and the Sunset Resort was full but got a bungalow next door and a good evening meal at the Sunset. The next morning over breakfast I had a nice chat with the owner of the Sunset, Church. His uncle had taken him from Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang when he was 6 years old. It was during the time when America was bombing the area heavily. He later worked for a French businessman in the tourist industry and was very knowledgeable about Laos. Spoke English and French as well. He suggested I continue to Vieng Thong, as there was some nice scenery on Route 1. Departing Nong Khiaw I stopped just outside of town at the caves that were used by the resistance. Several bomb craters here are signed “250 lb. USA Bomb site” and “500 lb. USA Bomb site”.

    May 23, 2004 Nong Khiaw to Vieng Thong

    Ran over a piglet (small pig) today. That makes one pig and one chicken so far for the trip. I grew up on an Iowa (middle of USA) farm with 13 brothers and sisters. We had a Guernsey dairy herd, an Angus beef herd, a cross-bred swine farrow to finish operation, chickens and enough corn and soybeans to feed them all (1,200 acres). Pigs are one of the smartest of the domesticated animals. I was on the outskirts of the village of Hong when a bus rounding a corner forced me to the shoulder and my action forced the litter of pigs on the shoulder to scatter. I think one brother pushed his younger brother off the trail and into my path. There will be pork in a pot tonight in Hong!

    May 24, Vieng Thong to Phou Lao to Muang Kham to Nam Kanh (Laos/Vietnam International Border) to Nong Het

    I saw my first metal guard rail in Laos today along Hwy. 7 east of Muang Kham. After driving on so many dirt and asphalt seal coat roads, Hwy. 7 is like a freeway. It is even centerline painted. The highway from Muang Kham to the Vietnam border has some grand views. Up until now the height of vegetation along the Laos roads tended to obstruct ones’ view but along Hwy. 7 the vegetation is cut down along the highway and one can really stretch one’s eyeballs. They appear to be finishing up a new Vietnam border station but there is no town on the border here and after a few words with the Thai border guards and a photo I retraced my route back to Nong Het. Had a nice Lao Lao (50% rice wine) evening here with newfound local friends. The only other falang in town was a German heading for Vietnam whose motto was ‘Never take a fast boat’.

    May 25, 2004 Nong Het to Phonsavan to Phou Khoun to Luang Prabang

    Stopped in Phonsavan for a late breakfast at a restaurant next to MAG, Mines Advisory Group. Chatted with a Brit about the unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos and MAG’s explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) program. On my flying adventure in January of 2004 I was able to land in Luang Prabang and Vientiane but not Phonsavan. I wanted to see the Plain of Jars and so caught a commercial flight to Phonsavan from Luang Prabang. I served as a combat medic on a dustoff (medevac) helicopter during the Vietnam War and did not know of the unprecedented scale of bombing America had dumped on Laos till I visited Phonsavan in January of 2004. For most Americans this was and still is an unknown war. Between 1964 and 1973, the US flew 580,344 bombing missions over northern and southern Laos dropping over 2 million tons of bombs at an average cost of US$ 2,190,000 per day. We dumped more armament on Laos then we dropped in all of World War II. MAG and similar organizations have years of hard work ahead of themselves with EOD in Laos.

    Hwy. 7 is a great motorcycle ride. Excellent paved road, beautiful views and the kind of curves you love to ride! I continued west to Phou Kloun and had a great bowl of noodle soup and a chat with another pushbike couple, this time from the UK. They had been on the road for a year and 20,000 k’s and heading south having come down from China heading toward Thailand. Was about to depart for Luang Prabang when along comes a young perky red headed Scottish lass on a 125 cc step-thru motorbike. She had been teaching English in Bangkok. (I have to roll that one over in my head. The Scots I know tell me they are speaking English but hell if I can understand but one out of three words they say. Now I can understand they could teach Thai’s to speak like they do but then whom are the Thai’s going to speak to once they learn it? Other Scot’s? Hmmm.). Anyway along comes this pretty young thing on a small bike and she has come from Vang Vieng and is headed to Luang Prabang. Quite impressive.
    Later in the day I was wandering the back streets of Luang Prabang admiring the heritage houses and was invited up into new made friends’ home for beers, sticky rice, fried eggs and French bread. Before I said my good-byes and stumbled down the steep stairs they invited me to come back in mid-August for the boat races in Luang Prabang. If I would arrive 5 days early and practice with them I could be a part of their village boat entry. Be a part of their team. Gosh, that sounds awful tempting. Great folks.

    May 26, 2004 Luang Prabang

    I had been in Luang Prabang with LLT and had been around the town a but had not got out on the Mekong so stayed another day and took a boat up the Mekong to the Pak Ou Caves and the villages along the way. That evening at an Internet shop in town I was approached by a young Chinese man who spoke quite good English. He told me he was illegally in Laos having escaped from China where he had been in prison for 5 years. He had made e-mail contact with Amnesty International and would I read their reply to him and give him my advice. He wanted to get out of Laos and into Thailand which he thought would be somewhat friendlier to his cause then Laos. However, he had no papers. I read the communication from Amnesty International that said he was in danger to be in Laos and would be in danger if he got over to Thailand without paperwork. They suggested he make contact with an official in Thailand with Amnesty International but that the contacts’ e-mail was being monitored. I was stumped for a suggestion and thought that making contact via e-mail sounded like the only way forward. Since the encounter I have often wondered if I could have helped him in some way more than I did. I guess I could have put him on my bike and hauled him close to the border and wished him luck but I am not sure that would have been the right solution. I guess I will always wonder about that one.

    May 27, 2004 Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

    Just about 20k’s south of Luang Prabang is a gravel road heading west to Kham Falls. It had not rained for several days and this was the first time I had to eat dust on this trip. The falls were falling nicely and I was able to position my bike to get a photo of both. I carry a Sony Digital video/still camera. Several times thru the trip I was able to bungee strap the camera to the handle bars on the motorcycle to video the winding roads. Hopefully it will give me a second living of this trip in my old age. Got in early enough at Vang Vieng to drive over the bamboo bridge and walk to the not-so-impressive caves. Wandered down to the Lucky Bar. The local kids were having so much fun swimming in the Nam Xong River that I dumped my pockets out and joined them. Finally met two other motorcyclists doing a Laos trip. One was a German living in the USA who was heading back to Vientiane. The other was of European decent in too much of a hurry to visit. Both of their bikes looked quite new and I assumed they picked them up in Vientiane.

    May 28, 2004 Vang Vieng

    Decided to stay another day in Vang Vieng and wandered back to the Lucky Bar where Wong, the owner, took care of my every desire. Hung out by the river on a rainy day with Bob Marley playing in the background. By mid-afternoon the rain had stopped and Wong took me up river in his boat. A most relaxing and enjoyable day for me and a welcomed rest for my butt.

    May 29, 2004 Vang Vieng to Vientiane

    Having filled up on mulberry shakes and pizza, I headed south to Vientiane. Actually this stretch of road was my least favorite of the entire trip. Traffic picked up and animals and kids on the road decreased. Just outside Vientiane I was overtaken for the first time of the trip by two Toyota Land Cruisers…. and I was doing 100 km/hr.

    May 30, 2004 Vientiane, Laos to Udon Thani, Thailand to Loei to Chat Trakan to Ban Khok to Thai Police Checkpoint on Hwy 1243, 2 k’s north of the turn-off to Bo Bia

    Vientiane to the Friendship Bridge is bit of distance. Somehow I didn’t make it on the main highway but took the asphalt road that follows the Mekong. This puts one under the Friendship Bridge instead of on it. I turned around and headed down a dirt road along side the bridge then through several peoples’ back yards and eventually got to the entrance of the bridge. Ann Tour’s paperwork proved value again as I was processed efficiently and sent on my way to Thailand. You are routed to the other side of the road as you enter the bridge getting you headed on the proper side of the road for Thailand, the opposite side of the road for Laos. Entering Thailand I felt I was back on a freeway to Undon Thani then on to Loei. By Chat Trakan the traffic had thinned considerable. I wanted to follow the road less traveled and get back over to the border area between Thailand and Laos. I headed up Hwy 1237 then Hwy 1268 through Ban Khok then Hwy.1241 and onto Hwy 1123. At the fork before Bo Bia I stopped to put on a jumper and dig out my flashlight as it was getting dark and chilly. Several k’s further was a Thai police checkpoint. They stopped me and said it was dangerous to go further at night as the road turned to gravel and mud a short distance ahead. I said it was a long way back to any G/H. They said I could stay with them and did I like Thai whiskey? I couldn’t have asked for a more adventurous evening. The amazing experiences that can occur when one has no plans. After feeding me and filling my belly with Thai whiskey they moved their automatic weapons and made room for me on a mat on the bamboo platform.

    May 31, 2004 Thai Police checkpoint on #1243 to Nam Muap to Nan to Santisuk to Nam Yao to Bo Klua to Pua to Tha Wang Pha to Chiang Kham

    The next morning the young policemen made me coffee. I handed out cash gifts for their hospitality, said my farewells and headed off again. Just like they said within 100 meters the asphalt turned to gravel and mud for the next 20 k’s. This would have been most difficult to negotiate at night but during the daylight it reminded me on the Huay Xai – Luang Nam Tha road only in better condition. Beautiful scenery and nature along this route. Stopped in Nan at the Dhevaraj Hotel for a late breakfast and a ride around town. I was told that Nan and Phrae are two of the least westernized towns in northern Thailand. Didn’t make it to Phrae but thought Nan was beautiful. In ‘A Motorcycle Guide to The Golden Triangle’ the author and host of this web site, David Unkovich, writes “You can’t claim to have ridden N. Thailand until you’ve done the Doi Phukha loop”. So I headed over to Bo Klua and across to Pua. Low cloud cover and rain but an spectacular ride over the top and all the way to Chiang Kham.

    June 1, 2004 Chiang Kham to Thoeng to Chiang Rai

    A mid-morning hour and a half ride in the rain returned me to Chiang Rai where I had departed 15 days earlier. I have concluded that the rain in SE Asia is much warmer then back in the mid-west of the USA, at least other than at elevation on the Doi Phukha loop. And when the rain stops one becomes dry in no time. I actually enjoyed riding in the rain.

    A total of 4 days and 750 k’s and on the Mae Hong Son loop on a Honda 250 from Mr. Mechanic in Chiang Mai and 15 days and 3,330 k’s on the Northern Thailand/Laos Loop on a Honda 250 from ST Motorcycle from Chiang Rai. Not a single problem with either bike on either trip. Both were fantastic trips. I especially liked the travel along the borders… along the edges.

    Thank you Thailand. Thank you Laos. And thank you David for this web site that aided me in planning my trip. I owe you a beer and will pay up when I return to Chiang Mai in September to depart for Burma and Nepal.

    Thoughts and Suggestions

    1. Time of Year. Doing this trip at the start of the rainy season created a unique adventure. It was also not as hot as the rain cooled things off and the air was crispy clean.
    2. Helmet. If you can bring your own helmet, great, if not, the one they provide will work just fine. I dropped the one they gave me and cracked the face shield and replaced it for US $0.70.
    3. Pack. I used a waterproof duffel bag from REI (US outdoor retailer) that I bungee corded to the rear that worked well and provided a backrest for me.
    4. Rain gear. Bring your own if possible. If not you will be able to find some inexpensive suit in the market.
    5. There will be times when you haven’t encountered traffic for a long distance and you will begin to think you own the road. Then around the curve comes a bus or a fuel truck and he will think he owns the road! Drive defensively.
    6. On a motorcycle you will be the fastest vehicle on the road. You will get used to passing others. I witnessed two vehicles, side by side, passing a third vehicle while a bus was approaching from the opposite direction all on a narrow two land road.
    7. If you don’t ride regularly like I don’t, your butt is going to hurt. I went to the market in Nong Het and purchased a small pillow, like the ones on the beds in the guesthouses. By rearranging the pillow ever so often I was able to change the pressure points on my butt and increase the ride ability comfort.
    8. I don’t own a motorcycle in the USA and ride at best once a year. If you have the desire to do this trip and will drive the speed of your ability you will do just fine.

    Resources

    1. ST Motorcycle Rental, Seksit Chotivachira, manager, Tel. (053) 713-652. Mobile (01) 322 1750. In center of Chiang Rai. His sister speaks English very well.
    2. Ann Tour, Anirut Ngerome, in center of Chiang Khong
    3. A Motorcycle Guide to the Golden Triangle by David Unkovich
    4. Laos map published by www.GT-rider.com
    5. Mae Hong Son Loop map published by www.GT-rider.com
    6. Thailand road map, B&B Map
    7. Thailand North road map, B&B Map
    8. Laos, Lonely Planet
    9. Thailand, Lonely Planet
    10. Web site: www.GT-rider.com
    Article for distances and times:
    http://board.gt-rider.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=106

    11. Currency rates at time of trip in May, 2004:
    $1US = 40 Thai bath
    $1US = 10,400 Laos kip

    If I can be of any further help please e-mail me at [email email=Rfgannon@cts.com]Rfgannon@cts.com[/email] and put ‘Thai/Laos motorcycle trip’ in the subject line.

    I hope this is of some help to others as others have helped me.

    Wishing you all the Best,

    Bob Gannon
     
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  3. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Bob-
    I thought this was a really well written and organized report. I am what I guess you would call "a regular" to this site and am living in Chiang Mai. Still, some of your information was new and informative, especially the info on ST Motorcycle rental. Let me know before you head back again and maybe we can do some riding together here. Also I would love to see LLT.

    Dave Early

    Ever notice that "What the Heck!" is usually the right answer?
     
  4. Rfgannon

    Rfgannon New Member

    Dave,
    You are most kind.
    I hope it helps others as others have help me.
    Pass along your contacts and I will check in with you when I return in early Sept.
    Bob Gannon
     
  5. NY1

    NY1 Member

    Hi there Bob
    I just read parts of your posting , and remembered when we met in Vang Vieng?
    I just returned from Luang Prabang and made a quick lunch stop in Vang Vieng ...you actually mentioned me in your report.
    The German guy living in New York on the road in Laos ... in May ... with the 250 Baja (rented at PVO in Vientiane: great shop .. amazing service...and killer baguettes). - It was so cool to read about your experiance .. and more than once (since I got back to Manhattan) did I wish I could "blink"
    and beam myself back to Laos. - What a great time I have had.

    Where are you now and where is the plane?
    Looking forward to hear more from you.

    Greetings from New York City

    [*] I will post my report shortly .. got cought up with New York, once I got back ...funny .. I returned from my Laos/Cambodia adventure just 4 weeks ago (actually on the day!)_... but it alreday feels like it's been month ... makes me wonder .. maybe it's to stressfull to live in New York City .. I might be ready to move .. and leave manhattan alltogether?
    We'll see.
     

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