Chiang Mai - Luang Prabang - Vientiane

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, May 17, 2009.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    DATES: Ex Chiang Mai Sunday 3rd May - .......still going. :D

    Another day at the office...

    A late start & I left Cnx at 4.45PM & took R118 North to Chiang Rai.
    In Chiang Rai it was the Nimseeseng Hotel. Link up with the GT Rider webmster Ben Kemp then, a happy hour drink rooftop at the Nimseeseng, eat at the C&C (Cabbages & Condom), plus lengthy drinks at the Sixties (nothing to do with our vintage yet) Pub such that we never made it to the Mom Khon Muang Pub for the planned big night out.

    The next day brekky at the webmaster's Godess' place the ABC.
    Then hit the road. I took R1 north, & turned right onto R1016 to Chiang Saen, then a right onto 1190 to Chiang Khong. It was stinking hot so there was no bungalow # 7 for me at the Tammila, but a new aircon room # 11 (I think the lucky number is.) 600 baht is the room rate for a nice aircon / UBC TV / Mekong view room.

    The next morning a quick run by Customs & Immigration downtown to catch the 1st car ferry over the Mekong.

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    Customs on the Laos side was S-L-O-W on account of the officer's inability to handle the computer. Someone else had to be called in to assist - after the farang's advice & suggestions were not accepted. Oh well Bor Pen Nyang. But for the first time there was no fee for the Lao Customs Temporary import papers. Only insurance 150 baht for 2 weeks.

    After getting my Laos visa downstream at the immigration port I took R3 from Houei Sai. And stayed on R3 for the next 180 kms.

    No 7-11s or PTTs or snakes or dogs.

    Here's the Don Chai city view 60+ kms out of Houei Xai.
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    Vieng Phoukha was a quick whistle stop to drop off some GT Rider Laos maps for the LNTA tourism office.

    Vieng Phoukha the main street
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    The road I think is in better condition than it was in Feb 2009. AND Vieng Phoukha - Luang Namtha is an amazing smooth flowing rolling road & ride.

    As you can see the weather was hot 'n humid. I arrived in Luang Namtha around 5PM. Just before the rain storm hit out of town.

    Luang Namtha the main street at dusk / storm time
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    The Dokchampa Hotel is the place to stay.

    The Manychan is the place to eat.
    A possible Slash approved meal at the Manychan
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    Early evening - 7PM- RobertH turned up on his Chinese 250, somewhat late & Lhasa bound. His 4am start from Chiang Mai did not quite eventuate so our masterplan to jointly conquer & photograph R3 (once again) did not eventuate. :cry:

    Fortunately for RobertH, Khun Wut from Cnx also arrived on the scene (from Luang Prabang) & Robert was able to add to his considerable China riding knowledge with many new tips frm Wut, who has done 4 BMW China rides from Chiang Mai + a few in Vietnam & 1 in Myanmar. Wut knows his stuff & is well connected... He is also a bloody good genuine guy, who likes to ride & tour, plus hangs out at the Kafe when in Chiang Mai. The rest of the time he's prospecting in Laos & elsewhere as a geologist. (Wut & I last met at the Windwest Pub in Vientiane, both of us prospecting. :) :) )

    Wut & Robert outside the Dok Champa in Luang Namtha
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    Robert H about to head off on his "final" Lhasa attempt.
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    Late that day I got a SMS from a Chinese mobile number simply saying "I'm in." Good on you Robert.

    From Luang Namtha the road is still beautiful to Na Toey & the China border turn off. Turn right at the junction for Oudom Xai & you're on a bumpy crap road for the next 100+ kms.

    This is R13 & it runs all the way to the Cambodian border.

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    The road is not difficult at all (the Snail did Cnx - Luang Prabang in a day on his Ducati), but it is very inconsisent & annoying. You cant carry any speed & never know what surface is around the next blind corner & there are hundreds of blind corners. But to be honest I think the road was again in better condition than Feb 2009.

    In Oudom Xai the place to stay is the Oudom Kham HOtel.
    Eat at the Keo Moungkhoun, or drink & happy hour at the Ming Khoua.

    Oudom Xai the main stret
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    Now that they have finished fixing the main street of Oudom Xai the town is a lot cleaner & brighter without all the dust.

    Nong Khiew was the next stop. I decided to cancel Pak Beng due to very heavy cloud cver & probable rain.
    However 25 kms south of Oudom Xai & still on R13 the weather cleared up to be very hot 'n humid.

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    Check out the road surface above - pretty good, in most places.

    But another 25 kms further on up the road it was not looking so good.
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    The weather & the road..

    Although the local riders were enjoying the conditions
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    This is Song Cha Hmong village, right on the ridgeline & from here on it's all downhill (such is the GT Rider's life some lurkers would say) :lol: to Pak Mong & Nong Khiew. But still R13. :)

    At Pak Mong you turn right to stay on R13 for Luang Prabang. But I managed to overshoot the mark & ended up on R1C for Nong Khiew. A pristine spot on the Nam Ou River & one of Silverhawk's fave places in Laos. I too need to take the HGLGF Singer here for some brownie points one day.

    Arriving in Nk it was hot 'n steamy. The sceney from the bridge is inspiring & I always get carried away taking happy snaps. So apologies for some of the following. Ha. Ha.

    The view upstream
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    The view downstream
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  3. Pikey

    Pikey Ol'Timer

    Nice report & great pics David. Brings back memories of my Oct '08 trip with Happy Feet & Marcus. Will deffo have to schedule another trip for later this year!

    Happy & safe riding!

    Cheers,

    Pikey.
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks Pikey, I've been trying to write it up a la Captn Slash as I miss his daily reports!!

    But next time you slip over for the LPQ loop you really must take your time & savour the sights 'n sounds 'n local atractions 'n beers as much as possible. Laos is worth it - taking your time - everytime!
     
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Arh continued now that the LPQ power is back on.

    When the power goes off in Luang Prabang it sounds like a million trucks reversing with their reverse alarms going as there are so many internet cafe UPS alarms echoing through town!! :lol: :lol:

    In Nong Khiew I thought pleasant enough scenery around here & nice people.
    The CT Restaurant & Guesthouse was my place of stay, food 'n drink in Nong Khiew. A really basic set up, but the friendly staff Um & Sit more than made up for any other short comings.

    Not long after however it started to rain - t-o-r-r-e-n-t-i-a-l.

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    Miraculously I managed to trap myself in a roadside cafe & proceeded to out drink the staff or they me, depending on which side of the fence (table) you were. Unfortunately for the 45kgs locals they lost out against the 99.5 kg farang. (Pikey where are you?) Not much of a competition you'd say & you'd be right. The bill wasn't much either at 40 baht a large bottle of beer Lao & there were quite a few more than one.

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    En route to the jungle bathroom
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    this little guy wanted to try on the GT Rider's knee protectors & they fitted well as full leg protectors.

    Another little guy showed off his rain gear while inspecting an immaculate looking AT.
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    Yet more AT admirers. They sure are pleasant enough people in Nong Khiew.
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    Eventually the rain cleared up & I headed North on R1C straight back to Nong Khiew.
    A subdued evening followed with the GT Rider fast asleep in his little bamboo hut on the Nam Ou by a record 9PM. I might have won the drinking battle, but not the war? :roll:

    Bright & early next morning - Franz - the GT Rider was up & about for more happy snaps.

    The view from the GT Rider's hut
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    :eek: 7.30AM Franz :eek: & kids heading off to school for an 8am start.
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    Unbelievable?? :lol:

    The early morning view upstream..
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    The bridge
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    The hill downstream
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    7.30AM Panoramas

    Downstream..
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    Upstream..
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    I got away at a respectable morning hour (after not going back to bed)
    I took R1C north, back to Pak Mong.
    The road was wet & greasy, as was Pak Mong.

    Downtown Pak Mong & the main intersection
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    7-11 Pak Mong
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    Coming from Nong Khiew, at Pak Mong it's a left onto R13 & straight into Luang Prabang.
    Still no dogs, snakes or even dams. Slash Ive got a long way to go to catch up to you. Must be time for a Phantom so I can sneak up on them??

    A Route 13 view Pak Mong - Luang Prabang
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    And another one
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    Time for happy hour by the 'Khong + a torrential rainstorm to cool the place down & create another power blackout... :roll: :lol:
     
  6. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

    Dave

    Niice report and briliant pictures, how ever, you forgot to mention how much was the first food picture cost's also who took those 7.30AM pictures to you :wink:

    any possibility to attach map pic where is your planned route?

    im currently looking for suitable bike for LAO trip,as i wanna go there i have only 100Km to border in Khong Chiam.
     
  7. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

    And Colin,, no onions at all???? :shock:
     
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Slash 'n Marco
    I think the steak was about 80 baht off hand. RobertH also had one as he too remembered they are particularly tasty at the Manychan in Luang Namtha.
    Slash no excuses for not riding Laos next trip - the food, roads & people are great.
     
  9. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

    Thants a darn good price for that steak
     
  10. Fishenough

    Fishenough Ol'Timer

    Another day in the office!! :lol: :lol:

    Great report, sounds like an awful amount of fun and good times!
     
  11. Pikey

    Pikey Ol'Timer

    Thants a darn good price for that steak

    Steak??? When I first saw that I was unsure whether it was scraped up roadkill or that a dog had crapped on your plate whilst your back was turned! Having said that, I've eaten there and the grub was fine so I guess looks can be deceiving eh! ;-)

    Sorry I wasn't there to "help you out" with the beer drinking in Nong Khiew mate but 40B for a big bottle is hell of an incentive to bring the next trip forward!

    Cheers,

    Pikey.
     
  12. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Arh back again for a bit....had heaps of trouble trying to upload the last batch of photos from a decent Internet cafe in Vientiane.

    Pikey - the steak in Luang Namtha was a beauty & not road kill, although I admit it did look a bit like it.
    Now I reckon we should set up a GT Rider trip to Luang Namtha for the night for a beer 'n steak night at the Manychan. From Cnx it would be 3 nights 4 days. 1 night o Chiang Khong. 1 night to Luang Namtha. 1 night to Chiang Rai. Then home to Cnx. Any takers?

    My daily brekky spot in Luang Prabang - The Scandinavian Bakery.
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    And the GT Rider's breakfast
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    # 5 The Omelette Special. Price 145 baht approx.

    At night for me it's usually the Soudaphone, which some GT Riders complain is hard to locate, because all the riverside restaurants look the same. Here's the sign to look for.
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    I forgot to take a meal shot, :oops: but did snap a table setting for a Lao / Viet police nosh up that I observed one night.
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    To be continued...
     
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Luang Prabang is one of my favourite townss. It has lots of temples, here’s one of them
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    Plus a view across the Nam Khan River
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    The next section was Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng.
    (Slash) I took R13 south from town & turned off it into Vang Vieng, the backpacker’s paradise, 228 kms later.

    R13 sort of winds its way around the hills plus goes up & down a bit.
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    But when I got up early in the morning in LPQ I was not impressed. The cloud cover was low, low & it was steady drizzle / light rain. It's going to be a boring tedious treacherous ride down today - if I go. Or should I stay? I could stay in Luang Prabang all day in the drizzle, or ride my bike in the mountains all day in the drizzle. So who dares wins – the mountains & the drizzle was the winner.

    R13 from Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng is an enjoyable ride with pleasant scenery & nice people.
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    But it is real greasy & slippery in the wet. You really have to watch out for the shiny greasy black stuff – it’s like ice in the wet & you can often find yourself skating through corners.

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    Going slow in the miserable conditions I thought I might as well try to out-corner photograph the good Captain Slash……

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    After about 50 kms the cloud started clearing & some of the views & scenery were stunning.

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    The road & views became hypnotic at times & I thought that, yes indeed, life is good at the office.
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    By Kiu Kacham the weather had cleared up nicely.

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    Kiu Kacham is 76 kms out from Luang Prabang & the first stop. KK is an interesting mini bus & truckers stop, with a couple of cheap charley guesthouses if you get caught out. Over the years I have had a couple of interesting entertaining nights in KK, not that I was caught out.
    There’s also plenty off Beer Lao, Lao Coffee & baguettes for a perfect meal, should you be so inclined.

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    Staying on R13 it’s hard to get lost, or not know where you are as the kms signage is so good.
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    It’s just the endless corners & stunning views that will get to you.

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    Even in the dry I continued to out corner-photograph Slash. :)
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    Lots of nice curves around here....

    To be continued.
     
  14. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

    David

    really enjoyed the pictures,, wet or Dry, also the roads looks really nice and in good condition.
     
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    A few more curves
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    You think you’re a bit of an adventurer alone on wild mountain roads & a local whizzes past on his bicycle to bring you back to reality.
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    Approaching Phou Khoun
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    It was still R13 & Vang Vieng was only 99 kms away & a pedestrian saunters down his home track with the Africa Twin blocking the view.
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    The photographer reposition & gets a better view
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    I think there’s an impressive hill sticking up there.
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    The GT Rider gets excited & snaps away
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    And it’s the new sensational viewpoint just south of Phou Khoun.
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    Absolutely stupendous views. Was this riding with the gods…..
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    Whatever, I had to make a lengthy stop & click away. This was no longer just another day at the office & I was extremely pleased not to have hung out in Luang Prabang for a day of drizzle-who dares wins. Get out there & ride. You never know what the weather's going to be like 80 kms away in the mountains - so nothing ventured nothing gained....

    Further on up the road..
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    the weather was hot 'n clear all the way into Vang Vieng.

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    You're riding along on what you think is a deserted road & every time you stop someone or some vehicle immediately comes along.
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    So you are never alone out there!

    Even though it may feel like it with photos like this
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  16. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

    David

    Looks like nice day of riding there,, no rain this ime, nice roads as well.

    makes me wanna ride in there some day
     
  17. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Still on the road. Almost in Vang Vieng....

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    Photo demo for Jerome.
     
  18. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Aha. Now in Khon Kaen, killing time wth electrical break down # 3 (all in Thailand in 24 hrs.) Details with photos coming later on.

    Meanwhile R13 North Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng....

    More curves for Captain Slash
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    It was glorious weather & light for the late arvo run into Vang Vieng.
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    In Vang Vieng it was the el cheapo Dok Khoun1 Guesthouse
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    that has some fairly standard house rules but "hoping that everbody takes these rules seriously. With love and good hope."

    The next day it was a hot 'n humid run into Vientiane. Up "early" & on the road by 9AM. :eek:
    Vang Vieng views & the old airstrip.
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    The panorama view
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    Despie being over run by youthful backpackers, Vang Vieng still has fantastic scenery appeal. Everyone has to stop & overnight there at least once.

    Way south of Vang Vieng on the flat. Looking back & North - hot 'n dry weather.
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    The same spot, looking ahead & South.
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    Stormy weather & it did indeed rain heavy for less than 10 minutes = no rain gear necessary. Keep the power on..
     
  19. Dougal

    Dougal Ol'Timer

    Wonderful report and photos FL. Stunning scenery shots.

    You seem to have quite an array of luggage there. Seen your reports with top box, holdall thrown across back seat, now you've got side bags.

    You gonna give us a pros & cons on luggage soon?
     
  20. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Vientiane it was then.
    The Ekalath Hotel was the place of stay, where non other than Dan White, Thai Kawasaki Boss rider, was waiting & writing up the new edition of the SE Asia Frommers guide.

    "Fortunately" for Dan, I had a bit of time & was able to assist him greatly for the night owl section of Vientiane chapter.

    And The Wind West was our fave place to end up most nights
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    A good band, music, & friendly staff. Don't miss it when you are in Vte. Plus the Wind West closes at 1AM. And Miss Tukta the sensational bartendee is still there bartendee-ing.

    Other good night spots in Vte were
    1. Bor Pen Nyang Pub & Restaurant is good for sunset happy hour.
    2. Kopchaideu Pub & Restaurant closes 11.30PM
    3. Music House Pub closes midnight.
    4. On The Rock music pub closes at 1AM
    5. Future Disco closes 1AM+
    6. Don Chan Palace Disco closes 3AM+

    Start your night with a sunset happy hr drink at the Bor Pen Nyang.
    Move onto the Kopchaideu Pub & Restaurant to eat 'n wine 'n dine. The KCD is my nightly 9PM rendezvous in Vte.
    After the KCD take your pic – Music House / Wind West / On The Rock for good farang music & bands.
    Or hit the discos if you’re younger & feeling more frisky.
    The GT Rider prefers Wind West to finish off the night late.

    A very funny thing happened at the Music House, last night in Vte. Dan had left early to continue writing up his book & I decided to hang around for one more beer & observe the band 'n singer. I ordered a new beer, the beer came, my phone rang & because of the noise I went outside to take the call. Less than 1 minute later I was back inside & my beer was gone. I asked for the beer & none of the staff knew (would admit) where it was, although they acknowledged I had just ordered it. Without a beer I decided to go home, & walked outside to get on my bike. But not before the management rushed out asking me to pay for the beer. I walked back inside & offered to pay for the beer, if they could produce one for me to drink. No deal. After a few tense seconds, with one the female staff supporting my new beer claim I headed back outside & rode off home with one waiter pleading for me to come back inside & pay for the invisible beer. Unbelievable & no doubt a cultural misunderstanding..

    Another night we strolled out of the On The Rock at 1.20AM only to be greeted by torrential rain. As the OTR is a bit out of town & we had no waterproofs we decided to wait & have another beer until the rain cleared. It did, but not until 3AM during which time a gay waiter took a liking to young Dan to no avail. But as it was raining heavily he too had no place to go thought he might was well practice his lines on Dan endlessly. I was highly amused.
    Then just for a laugh the rain stopped & it was time to go. My bike was the last & only bike left in the car park, but I had lost my parking ticket. The diligent parking attendant at first refused to let me leave without the ticket. Hilarious & just another cultural misunderstanding “on the road.”

    Slash I hope you liked all the road photos. I did make a special attempt to out-corner photo you. For those people who have ridden R13N & know the road apologies for the repetition of similar photos. But I think that for those riders who have never ridden R13N & would like to know what / how the road is the road snaps are invaluable. Ride R13 North & you will think you're riding with the gods. The traffic is light & the twisting bends endless. Get out there & enjoy.

    More piccies will come for the South + tales of electrical adventures only in Thailand. Ho. Ho. :lol:
    Back on the road in another 1 1/2 hrs. :)
     
  21. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Great report David.
    In a day or two you'll be back in Chiang Mai, resting from all that hard work in Laos. 8)
    Glad you managed, to dodge all those stray bullets at the wind west.

    Moto-Rex
     
  22. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Just a few more from Vientiane to wrap up..

    The intrepid Kawasaki Boss rider & guide book author Dan White

    http://www.danwhite.org/

    leaving On The Rock car park / fleeing the scene from the gay waiter who tried endless pick up lines to no avail. (He, the waiter, was just practising his English.)
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    The Mekong at sunset from the Bor Pen Nyang happy hour.
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    Downstream from the Bor Pen Nyang: the Don Chan Palace hotel with the casino that never happened, but with the latest late night disco in Vientiane.
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    The Mekong sort looks nice 'n clean & gentle here

    BUT

    A few kms upstream
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    there is plenty of slime & sludge coming down the river.
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    This goes for kilometres
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    & is not a pretty site.

    Yet at the same watching this, I was tucking into a beautiful meal at The Mekong Breeze Hotel right beside the river!
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    Life was indeed good.

    Breakfast at the Scandinavian Bakery in Vientiane
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  23. danwhite

    danwhite Ol'Timer

    Great pics and report.... I shot some bits and bobs also on 13 and will post soon. Such a beautiful road. That new viewpoint near Poukhoun is great as you point out.... The less we say about Vang Vieng and what has happened to it the better. A tragedy in process.

    Unko FL's contribution to all that happens in dark and shady places has been invaluable to my research......
     
  24. zain

    zain Ol'Timer

    Tq david. Hi, i'm from malaysia. I wish to ride in Laos next year. But we wish to go in May. What will be the weather? Is it rainy or dry?
     
  25. bard

    bard Ol'Timer

    Dave I would defo be a taker on a GT trip there, looks like a road for the Yammie.

    I am off from November to and including February and would be very keen to go with GT on a Laotian trip.

    Cheers Bard
     
  26. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    RIP Dan, we ride to Mae Hong Son for you this weekend. Wat Chong Klang by the lake will be your final resting place.
    Dan White RIP
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016

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