Chiang Mai – Attapeu Via Siphandon (Mekong 4000 Islands) Return

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Mar 12, 2011.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    CHIANG MAI – ATTAPEU VIA SIPHANDON (MEKONG 4000 ISLANDS) & RETURN
    Remapping southern Laos towns

    26 nights 27 days. 27 Jan – 22 Feb 2011

    THE WAY
    Chiang Mai – Loei
    Loei – Mukdahan
    Mukdahan – Ubon – Pakxe
    Pakxe 2 nights
    Pakxe – Champassak
    Champassak – Don Khong
    Don Khong – Don Det
    Don Det – Pakxe
    Pakxe – Champassak - Soukhouma – Champassak – Pakxe
    Pakxe – Pakxong & Laos Tree Top Explorer
    Pakxong – Pakxe
    Pakxe – Champassak
    Champasak – Tad Lo
    Tad Lo – Attapeu – Boun Keua – Attapeu
    Attapeu – Pakxe
    Pakxe – Savannakhet
    Savannaket
    Savannaket – Tha Khek
    Tha Khek – Vientiane
    Vientiane
    Vientiane – Loei
    Loei – Chiang mai

    5,000 kms

    THE RIDERS:
    David Unk (trusty Africa Twin) + Swiss Alex (Contact Travel) one way on his KLX50. Then The Snail aka David Lek on the return on Alex’s KLX 250.

    THE WEATHER:
    Damn cold on the outward & damn hot on the return. I witnessed the change of seasons from cold to hot.

    THE MASTERPLAN
    1. Survey for a bicycle tour alongside the Mekong south of Pakxe & island hop the 4000 islands / Siphandon.
    2. Check the cities for new & closed establishments to update the GT Rider Laos guide map.
    3. Get some photos / enjoy life / make a trip report.

    :) It's a start .....
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    CHIANG MAI - PAKXE
    Days 1-2-3

    CHIANGMAI – LOEI: 486 kms
    Ex Cnx: 10.20am
    Arrive Loei: 5.45pm
    Average speed: 65 kph

    LOEI – MUKDAHAN: 427 KMS
    Ex Loei: 10.15am
    Arrive Mukdahan: 5.30pm
    Average Speed: 59 kph

    MUKHDAHAN
    A new over nighter for both me & Alex.

    Our digs for the night
    The Rabiangmuk

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    550 baht. excellent value & highly recommended.

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    Self service breakfast coffeeshop

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    And it was a bitterly cold night, with a cold wind howling down the Mekong.
    We bravely scouted town....

    In our efforts to find warmth we discovered the Won Warn Country Pub
    N16 32.059 E104 43.895

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    but it was a cold night & the outdoor seating did not do the job.

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    After riding round in what seemed circles & a fruitless search, we finally stumbled across a nice pub & restaurant The Share Yes (?)
    N16 32.375 E104 43.285

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    The place was packed, even though it was semi open - outdoors. The food was good, the music ok, but the service 'hit & miss" & it was C-O-L-D.
    All the locals had a charcoal brazier pot under the table to keep warm. Eventually Swiss Alex weakened & asked for one to keep his feet warm. Yep that's right, the Swiss guy felt the cold more than I did. But I was rugged up with a set of thermals on underneath. Ho. Ho.
    This however was not enough & by 10PM we were tucked up in bed. Brrrh!

    Alex must have been feeling pretty good though, as prior to this trip the further-est he'd ever ridden his KLX 250 was 70 kms from Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao.

    Life was good once more.:thumbup:
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    MUKDAHAN – UBON – PAKXE: 311 kms.
    29 Jan 2011

    Ex Mukdahan: 9.30AM
    Arrive Pakxe: 7PM

    Mukdahan – Ubon is a smooth undulating fast dual carriageway & it was on here that the speedo on the AT quit @ 165 kph. The road was so smooth, the weather so cool & the bike running so well that I thought it might be time to redline it in top once more & see how slow it was. Curses, I was sure it was going to peak at 175-180kph & not bad for a 15 yr old 280,000 kms machine. Africa Twin darling I love ya!
    Funny now that I think about it too. Unlike a some riders, my AT / bike does not have a name. She’s a female & just my darling. But why / why not have a name? I’ve never really thought about it; & wonder if it would perhaps make an interesting poll?

    In Ubon we were delayed whilst Alex picked up some docs for his trip at the airport.
    Arrival time at the border was 4.40PM.
    On the Thai side I could not believe how friendly & helpful the staff - immigration & customs were. The best ever? & I was expecting otherwise because of the problems Scotty007 & Trevbart had here last year trying to exit to Laos on their bikes - NO GO!

    The Thai customs officer was the friendliest though, even getting photocopies for us from another office! :clap:
    The exit for Alex was a little complicated, as he was taking the bike out, surveying in Laos for the bicycle tour, then flying home to Cnx for work with The Snail flying in & riding the bike back. However this did not appear to be a problem once we had explained the situation clearly. The Thai customs officer printed out a Permission To Export form to be signed by Alex & completed by David Lek after he flew in. No problem; & it worked just like that. "Simple."

    The Laos side was not so easy though & we lost an hour clearing here. Customs were easy, but the Lao immigration system was atrocious & rude. Not impressed, but smile, go with the flow & "look at the spaces."
    We got away in the dark then

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    Needless to say it was a harrowing run in the dark to Pakxe from the border.
    The adventure had begun.
    :lol-sign:
     
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    PAKXE

    The bridge across the Mekong

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    The muddy Sedon river flows into the clean Mekong

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    and what an amazing contrast the colours are.

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    The Pakxe hotel

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    a place to go for fine roof top city views & sunset

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    and the food & service at the Pakxe hotel is first class.
    Check em out. Run by French Jerome & his vivacious wife Khun Noi.
    The Pakxe hotel also has a huge breakfast buffet, & is definitely the best breakfast in town.

    Downtown old Pakxe

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  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Pakxe South & Island Hopping In Siphandone / The Mekong 4000 Islands
    Checking out roads & trails alongside the 'Khong for a bicycle tour

    5 days: 31st Jan - 4th Feb 2011

    The new Pakxe - Wat Phou / Champassak road on the west side of the Mekong

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    Mekong views

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    Champassak hotel: The Siame Phone

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    GPS Waypoint: N14 53.945 E105 52.836

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    100,000 kip a night for aircon rooms.

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    Following the Mekong south

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    a wonderful old temple

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    I never quite worked this building out

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    it looked like a cross between a Christian church & a temple!

    The trail along the west side of the Mekong became a beautiful bamboo lined lane.

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    The bicycle tour will be a charity ride & part of the plan is to make a donation to assist a poor school south of Champassak.

    Discussing the needs of the school

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    The school

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    a classroom

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    no doubt they could use a better building

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    classes go on as usual

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    magnificent trees on the edge of the school grounds

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    Schools out & the kids join us for some photos

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    The Luangsay Cruise boat gracefully sailing up the 'Khong.

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    Back on the road

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    the villagers on the west side of the Khong were some of the friendliest people I have ever met in Laos. It was an absolute joy to be out there riding the Khong on these small trails.

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    back on the main road heading home for Champassak

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    it was dry 'n dusty

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    away from the river.

    It was getting late & we picked up some good info for a short cut

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    but it did not quite work out with the Africa Twin.

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    we did actually think about walking the AT across, but then the villagers certainly did not think it was a good idea AT ALL. A 250 kg bike + a 100 kg rider + 80 kg assistant ++. Nah, common sense prevailed & we tried the next short cut.

    This one did not work out either.

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    so we back tracked & looped around 7 kms to come out on the same trail 700 metres past the dodgy bridge.

    One day down.
     
  7. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    Discretion was certainly the better part of valour! I wouldn't even have dared to try & walk over that bridge! I'm really enjoying these reports - especially the photos. Don't have much experience of Laos - "only" been to Vientienne from NongKhai - in November 2004 on a Royal Enfield 500 Bullet.
     
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Pakxe South & Island Hopping In Siphandone / The Mekong 4000 Islands cont'd

    Champassak – Don Khong
    Back out to finish off the west side of the 'Khong

    Packed ready to ride in the dust for the day

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    now some of you guys please take a close look at the GT Rider luggage set up for a month on the road.
    One bag - travel light. And; under the top cover on top of the kit bag is a heavy cold weather lined denim jacket. Remove the jacket & that is a small kit = travel light guys!

    Anyway, on the road......starting from the main Champassak ferry landing

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    On the new Champassak bypass road.

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    beautiful scenery & the way ahead

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    whilst at the northern Pakxe end the new road is nice smooth fast asphalt; most of the bridges are not completed, And at the southern Wat Phou end, neither is the road.

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    Soukhouma city is 26 dusty kms south of Wat Phou.

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    one of the main towns south of Champassak, west of the Khong, it feels a bit like the wild west with wide open dirt streets, no trees & dusty buildings & people.

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    The main intersection was adorned with lottery vendors, complete with dust masks.

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    Grandma

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    whom I shouted lunch in exchange for a photo.

    At Soukhouma you can turn left (east) head over to the Khong & a network of riverside trails.

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    The road runs out & you need to take a motorbike ferry across a small river running into the Mekong.

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    It's a motorised ferry across the Khong

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    or a string powered one across the stream we needed to cross.

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    but it is often a steep bank you need to ride down to line up the plank onto the ferry.

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    and by the end of the day I did tend to find these damn tiring & tricky. More than once I walked the heavy AT down to the plank & then rode on. :?

    The Swiss motorcycle adventurer sets sail

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    Halted at a village thamboon checkpoint for a donation.

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    Some guys have complained about these "touch ups", but I always found them fun & most charming.

    A bridge you would not want to hit at speed in the dark

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    to be continued.....:smile1:
     
  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Cont'd Champassak - Don Khong

    The trail alongside the west bank of the Mekong is dotted with gorgeous "unspoilt traditional" villages.

    Many of them have schools & one of these schools was a highlight of my 3 weeks in Southern Laos & one of the best feel good feelings I've ever had.

    Often when you pull up in a village or near a school, the people & kids are very nervous about the farang & even scared. Take out your camera for a photo & they all run away.

    But not in this village.

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    The kids could not get close enough & followed us like a mob shadow.

    Wherever we went & took a step they too took one. I felt like a piece of sticky fly paper with tens of kids stuck to me.

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    Whoa, what an incredible warm fuzzy feeling it was too.

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    it actually got a little claustrophobic, so Alex & I retreated to the village shop.

    The kids followed us into the shop! It was jam packed & you could not move.

    So, what to do?

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    We bought the shop out of kanom & ordered the kids to line up.

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    it worked for awhile, but true to form control was eventually lost

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    and it was a free for all.

    We fled the scene & kept plodding on alongside the 'Khong.

    The real end of the road came.

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    and to our surprise Cambodia was on the other side.

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    we honestly had no idea we were already that far south.

    Where to go?

    Catch another motorbike ferry & get on an island.

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    off we went along the Mekong

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    Alex riding off the motorbike ferry

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    and onto Don Khamao island.

    Don Khamao

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    these islands in the Mekong 4000 islands are surreal unspoilt beauties.
    Pristine & with no cars.

    6 kms across to the other side of the island

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    back on the bicycle trail

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    The beauty & the grub

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    unbelievable, in such a remote isolated place as we were, the young beauty only wanted to practise & speak English!

    The KLX at dusk waiting for the next ferry

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    End of the day, crossing the Mekong yet again

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    Last boat for the day

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    We were on Don Khong island, the biggest of the 4000 Islands.

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    This guy below agreed, life was good again today.

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    to be continued in due course.
     
  10. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    DON KHONG
    Is the biggest island in the Siphandon / 4000 thousand Mekong islands in the south.
    A lap around the island is 41 kms.....

    The best restaurants & accommodation are all on the east side of the island.

    The breakfast view from Pon's restaurant

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    The "main street" outside Pon's

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    it's not exactly busy on Don Khong & the leaves are picked up one by one

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    not quite a high pressure job, you could say.

    Another glorious Mekong view from Pon's

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    A staff member "under pressure."

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    Apart from the main car & bike ferry from the "mainland" 4kms south of Muang Khong & Pon's restaurant there are several small motorbike ferries to other islands.

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    On a big bike, only getting down & up the bank is a problem.

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    From Don Khong you can island hop south to Don Det via Don Som island

    Contact Travel Alex crossing the 'Khong on the bike ferry

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    Riding Don Som island

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    School on Don Som

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    and it was another brilliant school stop & fun with the kids

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    riding by the "Khong again

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    on the road

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    under pressure & the toughest decision of the day

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    The lazy idyllic south side of Don Som

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    Alex's KLX 250 get a full inspection

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    the local boat yard

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    and what a beauty she was

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    TLC

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    one year warranty & money back if not satisfied (Ok we tried, but got rebuffed.)
    AND
    the price?
    A mere 30,000 baht.
    What a steal we both thought, but what would we do with the boat if we bought it?

    Time to ride & sail. The next ferry crossing to Don Det

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    the plank & the approach

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    Alex rode on, but old lung walked the AT down & then onto the ship. (The thought of 370 kgs riding onto the plank did not inspire me.)

    Pristine Mekong scenery from Don Som to Don Det.

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    AND
    in the "middle of nowhere" backpackers paddling about

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    just another holi-day at the office?

    Don Det beach & the motorbike ferry landing

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    another plank & sandy beach, but this one dotted with bikini clad backpackers!

    Life goes on....
     
  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    DON DET & DON KHON
    It is 8.5 kms from the northern tip of Don Det to the southern tip of Don Khon.
    The islands are joined by a small bridge.
    Once on Don Khon the main attraction is Li Phi Falls

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  12. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    At the bottom end of Don Kon the Mekong appears to be at it's stunning natural best.

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    a very satisfied David Unk

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    it was here that the French explorers planned to winch their boats up from Mekong, train them across the islands & then set sail again above the Khonephapeng falls.

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    it never quite worked.

    This part of the Mekong is also where you can still see the freshwater Irrawaddy Dolphins

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    if you're luck is in.

    After this it is time to backtrack to the northern tip of Don Det: "Hua Don Det" island.
    As the sun goes down the buffalo graze on the fields

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    and the kids graze in the fields, playing with fire.

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    Sunset over the Mekong at Don Det

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  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    DON DET

    Don Det & it's beauty impressed the hell out of me. I used to think Nong Khiew in the North was the most pristine spot in Laos, but now I reckon Don Det is a winner. Don Det is arguably the Khao San rd of the Mekong & all those cool backpackers can't be wrong.
    The main town "Hua Don Det is a maze of guesthouses, restaurants & bars.

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    The top restaurant is that one at the top of Hua Don Det "Jonenee" owned by Miss Nuan

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    Nuan speak perfect English, has overseas travel experience & knows how to look after her customers.

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    Her restaurant has the perfect location right by DD beach.

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    It is also right by the "plank" onto / off the beach. You can sit & watch the riders struggle to ride off the motorbike ferry,

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    onto the sandy beach, then up the slippery sandy plank & onto the main deck.

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    Quite a few of would have enjoyed watching David Unk ride up the plank, get the front wheel on the deck & then have the back end slide out, fall off his bike. I landed on the beach & was waiting for the bike to come down on top of me, but no. I & the bike was saved by the post at the top of the plank. The bike fell onto the post up against the seat & was nicely held up. No damage. It would have been a good photo, but sadly there are none. However I do own up to my spills & falls. There's nothing to hide or be ashamed of, we are all human.

    There's a variety of accommodation on Don Det, most of it cheap

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    These are the Jonee Guesthouse bungalows

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    however the best place I saw was Little Eden Don Det and if I ever take Happy-Go-Lucky there we will look to stay at the Little Eden.

    Unfortunately both Jonee & Little Eden were full, so I crashed out at the Souksan for 120,000 kip a night.

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    and it was hardly worth the 120,000 kip IMHO.

    A sunset swim at Don Det

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    Don Det is absolutely gorgeous. Don't hesitate to go there & hang out for a few days to enjoy the serenity, fresh air & clean environment.
    Note too that I think the water is cleanest - crystal clear only in the dry season, a few months after the rain has stopped. Go in the wet or immediately after the wet & you may well be disappointed.
     
  14. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    DON DET - VEUN KHAM - KHONEPHAPENG - PAKXE
    3rd February 2011
    with only 1 night on Don Det I was somewhat sad to be leaving I was that impressed with the island & scenery = I will have to go back.

    So back to the mainland

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    Once on the mainland it was down to Veun Kham to check on the Laos - Cambodian border crossing.
    And what a contrast the scenery is

    The new border checkpoint facilities being built

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    photo above, the view looking south.

    Looking back north to the asphalt & Pakxe

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    The old & current Laos immigration border checkpoint "shed."

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    swamped with backpackers & no doubt heading to Don Det. Lucky guys & gals!

    The Mekong at Veun Kham

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    Cambodia is on the other side.

    10 kms north of the border crossing is the Khonephapeng falls: the biggest falls on the Mekong.

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    A google earth view of what they look like in the wet season

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    AND in the dry season

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    the view downstream

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    visit the falls, leave your luggage in the gift shop

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    and hope that security does not nod off on the job.

    Less than 3 kms north of the falls is a huge new Korean Golf Course & Resort
    Even if you're not into golf, the resort location is stunning & worth checking out.

    A restaurant balcony view

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    The river, bright & clean

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    a somewhat dark skinned Mekong river kid

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    must be spending a bit of time in the great Mekong outdoors I reckon.

    and here it is

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    what a carefree life fishing the 'Khong like that everyday.
    So lucky.

    Lucky lung with the river kids

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    note the boat sailing by in the background.
     
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    PAKXE - CHAMPASSAK - SOUKHOUMA - PAMOK & RETURN
    4th February 2011

    A quick return to the west bank of the Mekong & finish GPS-ing Champassak & the road south.
    The Mekong ferry's never seem to amaze me what sort of vehicles they carry & load themselves up with

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    Unbelievably on the ferry I got besieged by 3 Vietnamese ladies asking for an autograph.

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    apparently they were well aware of my bike, the GT Rider logo & who I was from the internet & their tour company in Hanoi. It was a good feeling & I have a new tour contact to follow up in Hanoi.The tour company owner-manager uses GT Rider maps for her tours, plus rides & tours regularly with a Hanoi motorcycle club. Hanoi here we come again. :wave:

    The 'Khong as wide as & as clean as

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    & the reason for a return to Champassak & Soukhouma was to pick up a piece of track that I missed riding beside the Mekong with Alex a few days earlier.

    And the road 'n scenery was not very interesting.

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    inhospitable countryside & yet you see people building houses & settling in this bleak landscape. You have to wonder from where did they live before to move here?

    The only nice land & habitation seems to be beside the Mekong.

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    Jackpot with some school kids

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    back on the main road south away from the 'Khong

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    towards the end of the road, the fires were burning

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    but it is sad when you see some of the timber that was cut down

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    on the road home

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    late in the day I was back in Pakxe, satisfied with yet another day.
     
  16. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    Fabulous pictures, many thanks David. The 4000 Islands stuff is clearly on the MUST DO list. So much to see - need to get on the bike.
     
  17. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    PAKXONG & THE TREE TOP EXPLORER LAOS
    5th & 6th February 2011.

    As Monty Python would say: "and now for something completely different" - hiking & zip lining.
    Something I would NOT normally imagine myself doing, being ever so slightly on the unfit side (= totally unfit.)

    I've known Inthy, owner of Green Discovery & Kopchaideu Pub in Vientiane, ever since the first big bicycle tour in Laos in 2003. The bicycle tour was organised by Alex from Contact Travel & I was privileged to ride escort for the group from LPQ - Vte. (Checkout some of the photos & characters in the trip report too.)

    Inthy & I have been friends ever since, he rides a bike & likes outdoor adventure activities, plus music & a bit of night life. In Laos he has a become quite famous because of his pioneer tour activities.
    Late last year Inthy told me about his new tour adventure - a zip line in Southern Laos, near Pakxong; & extended an invitation to me & Alex to come on down & check it out.
    It was too good to be true Alex & I thought, so were in.

    Nothing too serious we thought, "probably just a walk in the park for 45 minutes, a couple of easy zip lines, sleep in a tree house for fun & then stroll back to the bikes & ride home."

    We should have looked at the website & researched it beforehand.

    So on the day we rocked up out in Pakxong 60 odd kms east of Pakxe, & were surprised to find that we were joining a full on tour group / expedition.
    Ooops, this was not what I was expecting.

    A full on safety briefing got things underway

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    & I needed assistance getting my kit on & off every time. Ho Hum.

    Then it was time for that "walk in the park."

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    nothing too difficult if you had nice hiking boots & not motorcycle riding boots = I suffered.

    The park got a bit more authentic

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    easy with hiking shoes & not riding boots. I was already beginning to have 2nd thoughts.

    It went on & on, a nice park indeed. A small bridge to cross

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    and I was already swaying before I got to the bridge.

    Lunch was perched beside a waterfall

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    & it was a classic Lao lunch, just to make you feel at home.

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    and immediately after this the first zip line

    [​IMG]
    a short easy one to introduce you to braking.
    Looks easy & it is, if you're not scared of heights, & my hand goes up here - heights do worry me. But I was going to give it a go.

    Originally we thought it was just going to be Alex, Inthy & I taking a quick look at the operation.
    And here I was locked into & forcing myself to follow through (keep the power on?) & have a go - give it my best shot.

    Keeping the power on

    [​IMG]

    The zip lines start at the top of a canyon & waterfall,

    [​IMG]
    & the further down you go the longer the zip lines get. The wider & more spectacular the flight.

    [​IMG]

    who is that guy

    [​IMG]

    if you braked too hard or early you never made it to the other side & a guide had to go out & pull you in.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    the waterfall you zip line across numerous times.

    [​IMG]
    absolutely stunning & the smart guys took photos or vdo clips as they sailed on by. Me? I was too busy hanging on & remaining focussed on the other side & the platform to safety. Ho. Ho.
    It wasn't just a couple of simple zip lines on the first day, but a total of 5 with the longest close to 300 metres.

    By the end of the day I was well & truly knackered.

    [​IMG]
    why do we let ourselves get sucked into these things?
    The adventure only!

    The waterfall at the end of the day

    [​IMG]
    it looks like it has been a long day & it was.

    But the day & night was not yet over.
    My bungalow for the night

    [​IMG]
    yep a tree house & quite high up I might add.

    Dinner was served & it was an incredibly delicious meal of fresh fruits, veges & a curry.

    [​IMG]

    then it was time to zip line back into your bungalow

    [​IMG]

    to be continued, food & drink at the Euro Diner beckons...
     
  18. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Cont'd .....PAKXONG & THE TREE TOP EXPLORER LAOS
    5th & 6th February 2011.

    After a day like that you'd think I'd sleep really well, being so tired, but our little tree house was freezing cold with a chilly wind howling in from off the cliff face & waterfall.
    Even with 2 sleeping bags each we suffered. The windows on the tree house were behind schedule & not yet ready.
    I took the downwind side of the tree house & Swiss Alex got the full blast. Eventually during the night he got up & slept on the floor away from the open window.

    The downwind side

    [​IMG]

    kitted up ready to leave.

    [​IMG]

    and the way out was a Via Ferrata 60-80 metre cliff face to climb.
    Duh? I was gobsmacked, my whole body still ached.
    I confessed to Inthy that I would not be able to do it. How the hell do you get out of this place, if you can't climb out?
    Oh that's easy David - walk.
    But don't you want to do 3 more zip lines down below this morning? It's only a 30 minute hike down to the first one, zip down a few more hundred metres, then a hike back up to the cliff face.
    Arh, pass. I want to live a bit longer.

    And so it was hike out. For the locals the trail takes 1 1/2 hrs, so guess it to be about 2 1/2 - 3 hrs for you; but it did take 1 very unfit overweight Thai guy 6 hrs to walk out. :? It's all easy for you David.
    Yeah yeah I thought.

    The trail

    [​IMG]
    fit for a goat & a goat I was not.
    It was all up, & S-T-E-E-P, over rocks, under & over fallen trees, up rickety bamboo ladders.
    My first breather was after 15 minutes. Arh, this is going to take time. It could be 6 hrs even at my pace I thought?

    A ladder to climb

    [​IMG]

    At least I had a porter & guide to show me the way, or I would still be out there.

    [​IMG]
    above the way ahead - UP & UP.
    My arms & legs ached continually. They were so tired I could hardly lift them at times.
    I was on my hands & knees scaling the section above.
    But I kept going. NO stopping, just plod on & on, at your own pace. I'm sure the porter-guide was laughing all the way.

    A bamboo thicket

    [​IMG]
    beautiful, but all I could focus on was my feet & a spot where I could plant them firmly & not stumble.

    It took 1 1/2 hrs to get to the top of the waterfall zig-zagging up the side of the canyon.

    [​IMG]

    We took lunch here

    [​IMG]
    but I was not hungry. 1litre of water down & I was ready to carry on. The guide sat down & asked me to rest longer, but I did not want to sit or lay down, fearful of the effort required to get back up if I cooled down too much. Lets just plod on & on & on...

    The way ahead

    [​IMG]
    "level" ground.
    And so it was relatively level. We'd done the worst, but it still took another 1 1/2 hrs stumbling along, & literally just shuffling my feet the last 40 minutes.
    Still 3 hrs & it was done.
    I could hardly talk & did not want to sit down at the drop off point & restaurant.

    In 40 minutes I had slowly & painfully packed up, put my riding kit on, somehow mounted my bike unaided & rode off back to Pakxe. But not before I'd very generously tipped my smiling guide & porter, who still had not even broke out in a sweat!

    The next 24 hours days I layed in my Pakxe hotel room, aching all over. Thank heaven for Ipobrufen.

    What an adventure.
    Something I never thought I would do.
    I was exhausted, totally knackered, but not overly worried as I had confidence in the Green Discovery team that if something did go wrong, they would be able to get me out.
    Would I do it again?
    Yes if I was 15 years younger & 15 kgs lighter.
    Still it was not bad for a fat unfit old fart.

    Check out this

    to see what the Green Discovery Tree Top Explorer is all about.
    Highly recommended if you're fit & got the spirit of adventure.

    Thanks Inthy for the adventure.
    Thanks too Alex for watching over Lung.
     
  19. feejer

    feejer Ol'Timer

    Looks great. But man, did the bugs/mozzies eat you alive? Any Dengue around there?
     
  20. Noel Akers

    Noel Akers Ol'Timer

    Absolutely brilliant stuff....thanks David.......man I got those itchy feet again !!!!!
     
  21. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    There probably are lots of bugs & mozzies, but in the night the wind was so strong there certainly weren't any mozzies buzzing around in our tree house.
    Dengue & malaria are a problem all over Laos I reckon, but if you ride a motorbike your biggest danger is always a crash.
     
  22. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    PAKXE
    8th February 2011

    It took 2 days to recover from the Tree Top Explorer zip line expedition, & on the 2nd day I thought I'd better start moving & gently potter around Pakxe & check out a couple of waterfalls close by.

    First up was the Etu Waterfall & Resort

    [​IMG]

    This would appear to be a little gem of a picnic place not far from Pakxe.

    [​IMG]
    the waterfall is not big, bit it is quite pretty.

    You just have to climb down & UP the steps. About 300 of them.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The waterfall & resort is 36 kms from Pakxe, off R16E
    N15 11 34.7 E106 06 07.3
    The Resort has a website.

    A 2nd waterfall was the Xair Sida Waterfall. This is a small mickey mouse one, but with a karaoke set up, that must be the main attraction on the weekend.
    N15 10 50.6 E105 52 00.7

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The good waterfall close by to Pakxe is the Tad Pha Suam

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is also the Utayan Bajiang Resort which has an interesting history & story
    Tad Pha Suam is 37 kms from Pakxe off R20.
     
  23. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Ron
    Check out this Treasures of Laos blogspot on the 4000 Islands.
     
  24. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    PAKXE - TAD LO - ATTAPEU - VIETNAM BORDER & RETURN
    12th - 14th FEb 2011.

    On the 9th & 10th I made return trips to both Don Khong & Champassak to pick up couple more bits of data I had missed.
    Alex was already on his 4000 Island Kayak Expedition with Steve Van Beek & an international school group from Bangkok.
    On the 11th the Snail flew into Ubon & taxi-ed to the border for 1,200 baht & mid-arvo I cruised on out to Vang Tao to pick him up at the border.
    His mission to return the KLX 250 to Chiang Mai, ride & enjoy the freedom of Asian roads, even on a KLX250 & not his 1000cc Ducati Hypermotard!

    Tad Lo falls were our destination for the night.
    The falls are only 86 kms from Pakxe on R20, so it is an easy afternoon leisure ride, aimed to arrive for happy hour & the golden light.
    Departure time from Pakxe was 3.15PM.
    Arrival at Tad Lo was 4.30PM.
    Average speed was 61kph.

    [​IMG]

    The highlight of the ride out was another village thamboon checkpoint.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    as usual the hold-up gang were charming in the extreme.

    [​IMG]
    their biggest weapon was a smile!
    And it worked, the Snail & I enjoyed the banter, photos & "sweet highway robbery."

    We hit Tad Lo falls just in time for happy hour.
    The Sayse Resort & Restaurant has a stunning location by the falls.

    [​IMG]

    after verifying that they had rooms - convenient ones next to the restaurant - the Snail & I sat down for a celebratory beer.

    [​IMG]

    the view was intoxicating. The beers flowed.

    [​IMG]
    A happy hour snack

    [​IMG]
    note the cutlery placement. Ho. Ho.

    and the beers flowed,

    [​IMG]

    dinner arrived.

    [​IMG]
    by 10.30PM we were the last customers & it was time to close up.

    Time to walk to our rooms.
    Oh sorry, they have gone, a tour group has taken all the rooms close to the restaurant.
    W-H-A-T?
    Yes, the only two rooms left are the expensive ones up the hill, right at the top!
    You will have to ride up there, it is too far to walk.

    [​IMG]

    No discussion. We could only laugh at our folly. But wasn't it great to be on the road, enjoying life & the super friendliness of Laos.

    The bungalow up the hill, right at the top.

    [​IMG]

    next morning: the view downstream

    [​IMG]

    enjoying the good life

    [​IMG]

    TAD LO - ATTAPEU
    13th February 2011

    151 kms. Route 16 & 1I(?)
    a fast flowing, easy road.

    [​IMG]
    Ex Tad Lo: 10.20AM
    Arrival: Attapeu: 12.44PM
    Average speed: 63kph.

    The # 1 road junction en route

    [​IMG]
    Ban Beng & R16 / 20.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The entrance to Attapeu

    [​IMG]

    Attapeu is a mass of re-construction after the devastating 2009 floods.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Checking into the Siamphone hotel

    [​IMG]
    I commented how new & clean the premises were.
    Of that's because we had to rebuild the place after the flood. The water was up to the roof / 2nd floor.
    The flood was definitely a big one.

    Our afternoon excursion in Attapeu then was a ride out to the Vietnam border at Phou Keua to look see.
    Distance 111 kms.

    [​IMG]
    Ex Attapeu: 1.30PM
    Arrival Phou Keua:3.23PM
    Average speed: 57 kph.

    After the floods we were expecting the road to still be a bit of a disaster still, but this was not the case at all.

    to be continued....
     
  25. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Continued ATTAPEU - PHOU KEUA VIETNAM BORDER & RETURN
    Ex Attapeu: 1.30PM
    Arrival Phou Keua:3.23PM
    Average speed: 57 kph.

    After the floods we were expecting the road to still be a bit of a disaster, but this was not the case at all.

    [​IMG]

    towards the border the road soars up into the mountains for some breathtaking views

    [​IMG]

    the road surface was good all the way

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    a lot of it reminded me of riding in Nan & on Doi Phukha

    [​IMG]
    and that's about as good as it gets!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    photo above taken by Lao immigration.
    They offered & were as friendly a bunch of guys as I've ever met on a border. :clap:

    The Snail topping up the KLX 250

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    good mate + great lady fuel attendant. Super friendly people.
     
  26. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Continued ATTAPEU - PAKXE via the missile.

    Before returning to Pakxe the Snail wanted to check out the old missile site
    The distance from Attapeu is 30 kms.
    The road is basically flat, rising only 40 metres on the way.

    [​IMG]
    you could walk if you had to.

    New housing on the way

    [​IMG]

    the site, now beside the main road
    N14 55.496 E107 02.872
    fenced in by old bomb cases.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The local taxi service

    [​IMG]
    I was highly impressed with the old ladies agility in "stepping up" into the truck!
    Way beyond me I'm afraid.

    ATTAPEU - PAKXE
    The way

    [​IMG]

    it was dry & hot.
    The view

    [​IMG]

    another fuel stop for The Snail & the KLX

    [​IMG]
    with plenty of kids.
    The Snail & I split here, with the Snail returning via the dirt road 16A direct to Pakxong & onto Pakxe. I continued on the same route 16 - 1I.I took my time figuring the Snail would be slower.

    Crossing the Xe Nam Noi I thought it should have been the sea

    [​IMG]
    there were so many kids swimming

    [​IMG]

    The Suan Sinouk was one place I wanted to stop at on the way through

    [​IMG]
    for a nice cuppa

    [​IMG]

    I had three, much to the amazement of the staff

    [​IMG]
    and I confess the waitress influenced me greatly.

    The resort reception

    [​IMG]
    to be better explored with Happy-Go-Lucky on another trip.

    Eventually I arrived in Pakxe to check on the Snail & he was there 30 minutes before me. I forgot he really wasn't a snail. Ho. Ho.

    Twas Feb 14th & Valentine's Day / night.

    [​IMG]
    the riverside pubs in Pakxe were rocking.

    Beer Laos was being consumed in massive quantities

    [​IMG]
    but we decided to cheer Carlsberg at the start.

    One "major" discovery we made at happy hour in Pakxe was the Beer Lao promotion. Buy it before 7PM & it was 6,500? kip a bottle for a minimum of 6 bottles. We saw girls with crates of beer stacked up beside their tables & could not work it out. But the plan is to buy up big in happy hour - one or two crates - keep them stacked beside your table & as you want a beer, swap a hot bottle for a cold one out of the fridge. Then just drink them through the night. When your couple of crates of beer are gone, pack up & go home. The Pakxe happy hour secret. Now you know.:crazy:
     

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