Four blokes, and there green machines, head off to Laos. When back in OZ earlier this year, and while having a few cold beers with some mates, a trip to Thailand/Laos was planned. Always a good time to plan something big when your half charged. Strangely, in this case, the alcohol induced enthusiasm was still there several days later, so I went about putting it all together. Laos/Thailand Trip November 2009. I had a loop planned, but had to change it a little along the way, (more about that later) this is how it ended up. Chiang mai - Phrao - Chiang Khong - Pak Beng - Xayaboury - Pak lay - Vang Vieng - Luang Pabang - Nong Khiew - Muang Khua - Luang Namtra - Houei Xai - Chiang rai - Chiang Mai. Starting point was breakfast at the X-Centre. The plan was to ride to Chiang Rai on dirt tracks, but at around 4pm, I had worked out we weren't going to make it before dark, so we headed west to Phrao to spend the night. I had lost my camera, and back tracking to try and find it slowed our progress a little. Metal bridge North of Chiang Mai. Found this great resort about 2kms south of Phrao, on hwy 1001 huge bungalows for 600baht. They also had a restaurant at the front that served fantastic food. Next day it was of to the border at Chiang Khong, stopping at Chiang Rai to buy a new camera. The motley crew at the Golden Triangle. We meet a big group of BMW riders from Malaysia heading to Kumming in China at Thai customs. The process on the thai side took quiet a while. When all the paper work was finally done, we had to wait for the ferry operators to finish there lunch. At last...the ferry's on its way. By the time we had finished with Lao customs and immigration, it was 3.30pm. Although it was late in the afternoon, we decided to ride to Pak Beng anyway, knowing we would had a couple of hours riding in the dark. A drink stop the way to Pak Beng before the sun went down. We arrived in Pak Beng at about 8pm, it was a great ride, almost surreal riding in the dark. The KLX headlights worked a treat. Problem was, arriving at that time meant all the rooms were taken. We went to every hotel and guest house, and not one of them had a room. But while sitting on the bikes in the main street, wondering what to do next. A lovely Lao lady came up to us and said we could sleep on her back veranda for 20,000kip each ($2.50) OK we said, so she put a few mattresses on the floor, gave us some blankets, and all was well. She even told us to bring our bikes in from outside, and put them in her lounge room. Bikes tucked away......the kids would have to do without the cartoons tonight. The new road from Pak Beng to the ferry crossing is taking shape fast. Cruzing past the local transport near Hongsa. South of Xayaboury, the road was dry and dusty. A small market on the way to Pak Lay. Peter checking out the local delicacies. We turned west down a smaller track, but not the road that goes through the Nam Phoun NPA. The Track we took was further south, and followed the boundary's of that park. Track heading west. Came across these kids taking time of school to fill bags with dried corn leaves. The track turned into a river for a while. Some big houses north of Pak Lay. Arrived in Pak Lay were a shower and a few beers where order of the day. After breakfast the plan was to ride from Pak Lay to Tha Meua via Feuang. Breakfast in Pak Lay, while the bikes wait patiently outside. Crossing the Mekong south of Pak Lay. First puncture for the trip, and hot work fixing it. The next few photos were taken on the Feuang road. We arrived at Tha Meua about 4.30, and decided to ride the extra 24km to vang vieng were pizzas were available. You know your a pizza lover, when you'll endure a night in vang vieng for one. NEVER AGAIN. No pizza is that good. Next morning we left 'never again' town, and head for Phonsavan via the Xaysombourne road, but we were stopped at lak 18 (about 10km east of the HWY13 turn off) by the military, and told we couldn't go any further. As there's no other way, we headed back up HWY13 to Luang Phabang. It was so cold on HWY 13, and at times riding in thick cloud. Stopping to put extra jumpers on. Came across this convoy of 15 Chinese trucks heading south, all carrying two and three Armored Personnel Carriers each. We stayed in Luang Phabang for two nights, deciding to give Phonsavan a miss because from Luang Prabang it would mean to much road riding, so a quiet rest day was planned.. A quiet rest day.......are you kidding. We saddled up early as usual, and choose to do some riding on the west side of the river. Preparing to cross the mekong.....again. Some good riding on the west side. Duel Purpose BMX bike. The best thing about riding in Laos is showing the kids there photos in the view finder. Rat stew for dinner tonight Id say. Not sure what this little fella's eating. But its gotta be better than the rat. Impressive water fall. Back over Luang Phabang after a good days ride........now for the disco. We awoke next day after a night of Disco dancing Laos style with the idea of riding to Oudom Xai via a dirt track thats runs through Nga. But we were unable to get a boat big enough to take us up the river to the start of the track. My fault really, I thought we would have had no problems getting a boat at Pak Ou. We probably could have got one in Luang Phabang, but that would of meant a long slow boat trip. So instead we headed of to Nong Khiew via Pak Xeng, which is always a good ride. On the Pak Xeng road, heading to hwy 1C. Billy cart racer. Hot chili peppers. Arrived in Nong Khiew to find all the good rooms where taken, but there was still plenty of rooms with good ventilation available. I left the boys at CT restaurant early due to the flu. They soon were invited to a party were Peter discussed cross cultural relations Sir Les Patterson style. Nong Khiew - Muang Khua - Luang Namtha. The 2008 flood damaged road being repaired. Village on the way to Muang Khua. Village on the road that runs from Boun Tai to Hwy 13. Ouch. Luang Namtha to Houei Xal, via Nale. Heading south to Nale. Another puncture. After noodles in Nale, it was time to cross a river, so we could hook up with a track that would take us to HWY 13, about 100 kms north of Houei Xai. It was a great scene down by the river. Kids fishing, women washing there hair, boats going up and down, tiny kids colleting water in buckets, a true theatre of river life. And now we were going to be a part of it all. A truly great hour or so in our trip. The river to be crossed. Crossing the river. Meet the skipper. This young guy was over in a flash when he seen us riding down towards the river bank. We made deal, which I think he was very happy with, his poker face couldn't hide the fact that my negation skills could have been better. As the first bike was being ferried across the river. A few other boats tried to steal the young guys passengers and cargo. Even offering a discount price. We told them to get lost, we had deal and that was that. Good luck to this young guy, I think he'll do well in life. Least I hope so anyway. The Skipper. Back on terra firma, and heading west. We soon hit the Main hwy, and rode south to HoueiXai were we would spend our last night in Laos, before crossing back to Thailand the next day. The trip worked out well I think, the guys enjoyed there first trip to Laos, and in one case trip to Asia. No one crashed or got hurt, and the apart from two punchers, no trouble what so ever with the bikes. I think they all will back again. Cheers Rex. More photo's comming soon.