ca 3000 km around Laos

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Sven, Nov 29, 2007.

  1. Sven

    Sven Member

    Went on a Baja from Fuarks on a 15 daytrip. The bike was pretty good, though the lights went first day (just the switch, easily fixed in LPB), and the spedometer took a nap every now and then, especially on bad roads and high speed.

    It's now 3 weeks since I started it, so some roads may have changed quality a little. When I write "bad gravel" I mean road that's not fun as in off-road, just annoying because of the distance between the holes where one gains speed, only to have to brake down again.

    From udom Xai it was periodically good and bad. first 20 km rough gravel/good asphalt in between. Next 22 km good tarmac, some holes around curves. Then 36 km of good/bad-mix, untill Na Teuy junction, where the best 40 kms I've seen in Laos started. Around Udom Xai there were heaps of chinese trucks, but on this highway I was alone.. nice to let her fly :)

    Luang Nam Tha-Muang Sing was 59 km of good and fun asphalt with a nice view.
    Muang Sing-Muang Long was 49 km of bad gravel, big holes. I've read good reports on this road, but I guess I was pretty close from the rainy season? Could do 40 every now and then, but mostly not.. The first guesthouse along the road on the left (when coming from north) in Muang Long was pretty good! Clean, big room with squeaky clean bathroom.

    Udom Xai-Sin Xai was the longest stretch of unbroken asphalt on the trip, nice fun road. 60 km til Sin Xai, where I missed the turn to Phonsali (no sign, take left onto good gravel road after the bridge). The road to Phonsali ranges in everything except river crossings. Tiny, poor villages that didn't seem to get alot of white visitors.
    Arrived in Buon Tai at sunset, and was victim of the asian politeness of "when you don't know, point somewhere and say a random number of km's", and it was truly dark when I found a hole in the wall to sleep.

    Ban Yo to Phonsali, 55km mostly good asphalt.

    Phonsali-Hat Sa, 20 km of bad gravel. Hat Sa has a very basic guesthouse with friendly hosts, but no toilet. There are toilets just across the market, but they are closed. Asked to use them, but nope, the beach is the place to go. Not cool with fooe/biscuits-diarrhea, but I've done worse (Buon Tai).

    We got a boat (two backpackers I met), and was told it would take 4 hours to Muang Khua. Off course with the boatmans constant stopping, picking up goods and people, sometimes even going upstream, 4 hours got us halfway. Then the battery started dying.. So after a rope-start, we mimed "DO NOT kill the engine this time", which should be unnecessary. 200 meters down he went to another beach and whatdoyouknow, he kills the engine. But Luckily some of his family lived there, and whehey, for a small sum we could sleep there... We kept cool but made it very clear that we had paid to get to Muang khua, and he had agreed to take us there. Because of my bad/nonexcisting Lao, and his english the communications where bad, but in the afterlight there is no doubt he tried to rip us off (seen from our point of view. They may have a different view of the "when" in getting there).
    After an hour of trying ropestarting the engine, he gave up and borrowed a battery from another boatman, who wanted us to pay for it. I find Lao people to be the most honest I have met, but tuktuk-drivers and boatmen are the same wherever you go..

    Nam Bak-Phou Lao is a very fun, scenic road with good asphalt almost all the way. From Vient Thong there is alot of small gravel on the road, but still fine. Nam Neun had a basic guesthouse and a few nice noodle/rice shops. 20 km south of Phou Lao the roadworks began.. ranging from almost not able to keep upright, to ok.. 40 km in total when I was there, probably less by the day..

    Phonsavan-Paksan. Someone wondered why there where little about that road on this forum. Called Stan (thanks for taking the time, good man!), who told me to ask the busdrivers wether there had been any shootings lately. The busdrivers didn't understand me, and just pointed some direction (very polite though.. ;)
    The guesthouse-owner in Phonsavan said I shouldn't go, I would be shot, but when asking policemen and gas-sellers along the way, they reassured me it was no problem. And it was the coolest ride I had in Lao! the river-crossings where pretty high, and at the deepest I had water in my lap, and was sure I would flood the engine. But no problem, it went straight throug! Met 4 french going the opposite way, one flooded his bike.

    Lonely Planet writes about the Loop Tha Khek-Lak xao-Vieng Kham-Tha khek, and there are alot of backpackers on this once very fun road. Now most of it is wide construction road and dreadfully boring, but with some nice opportunity to go offroad on sideways. didn't venture to much off the road, was getting shorter on time.

    Love Laos, but I've had enough of the "politeness" when driving on my own..
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  3. bill

    bill Ol'Timer

    Hi Sven
    Good to hear you got thru the Phonsavan-Pakxan route OK
    I was wondering how high the river crossings would be.

    Did you visit kong Lor cave in Kammuan province, well worth it if you're still in the area.
  4. Sven

    Sven Member

    Have there actually been any shootings lately?

    Did go to the Konglor caves, but my flashlights weren't up to the job, so it was a dull experience.. :)

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