Golden Triangle and Laos Trip.

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by tbr27, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    Hi all, this is my virgin post in the forum. Due to the info in this site, I was able to solve my bike problem in Luang Prabang. Thanks David!

    Date : 8 April 2010 - 23 April 2010
    Distance : 7000km (100% riding)
    Ride : Africa Twin and Fazer 1000

    The route we took was : Singapore --> Hatyai --> Kanchanaburi --> Doi Ithanon--> Mae Hong Son --> Chiang Khong --> Oudom Xay --> Luang Prabang --> Vang Vieng --> Bangkok --> HOME SWEET HOME!!

    On the first night, we had dinner at Hamid restaurant in hatyai.

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    After which, straight to bed. Woke up at 6am local time and set off at 7am. We met a lots of bikers heading towards phuket for the bike week. Took a short break at a small stall for some drinks.

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    After which, started the bike and off we go. Less than 1km away, I saw pieces of paper flying away from my buddy's bike. Began to realise that its actually money!!!!! He forgotten to zip up his jacket's pocket. Due to the wind, his wallet flew off. I did a quick stop and was about to dismount from the bike when I realise that the local people were running towards the road to pick up the money and walk off. Damn!!! Only managed to pick less than 1500baht. Lucky for him, that wallet only consist of some local currency for petrol. The rest is kept in his box.

    Anyway, we soon reached the famous bird.

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    Reached Kanchanaburi after dark. We found a guesthouse and stayed there for 2 nights. Our room is on the right.

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    Went to the "bridge over river Kwai" and its surroundings. :lol:
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  3. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    Early next morning, we rode towards Doi Ithanon. Along the way, we met a fellow singaporean named Leong. He is riding a GS1200 which is registered in Thailand. Told us that he usually fly over to Thailand and start riding from there. :shock:

    ANyway, we reached the Doi Ithanon around 5pm. Buddy decided to pose by sitting sideway on the bike. Look what happens.... :lol: :lol:

    before
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    After
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    We Reached the foot of the mountain after dark and decided to sleep at a guesthouse. Next morning off we go towards Mae Hong Son.

    Along the way...
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    The place to get the certificate or buy stickers/decals. Its directly opposite the post office.
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    Decided to visit the Long Neck Karens. Wearing shorts(bad choice) we moved off.
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    Went thru 3 of these. The water is less than 2cm deep. The last one was the killer. Rear tyres lost its grip, spin more than 90degrees... Put my foot down trying to hold the bike up, lost footing....both bike and rider kissed the floor. The 2 kids were laughing at me due to the way i fall.
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    Damage : scratched tank (1 week old paintwork) and bruised left leg(due to footpeg).

    Signboard says 1km away from the Karens village. We decided to head back down because my leg is bleeding and swollen. Need to clean up the wound.

    BAck at Mae Hong Son, the locals we still celebrating Songkran.
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  4. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    We left Mae Hong Son at 6am and head towards Golden Triangle using route 1095.

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    Finally reached the opium museum.
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    In the museum, I tried to put on the rings. No joke, It it heavy.
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    We went around the town looking for the so called "look out point". Gave up and decided to call a friend. Was told to exit the opium museum, turn left and 10m away there is a road on the left leading up to it.

    Upon reaching there, wasted no time to pose. On the left is Myanmar, right side is Laos.
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    Even got a "model" to pose with my bike.
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    It was getting dark, so decided to stay a night there.

    Next morning, rode to Chiang Khong border. On the left of the bike is the Immigration checkpoint, further down is the customs. Across the mekong river is Laos.
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    The immigration guy told us that Customs is closed for the day due to Songkran. We were left with no choice but to stay a night at chiang Khong. Checked in a guesthouse, changed and went back to the checkpoint to catch a boat to Laos. :p
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  5. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    Over in Houay Sai,Laos, we cleared the immigration in 20 mins.

    Immigration is on the right side. Up the flight of steps.
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    After clearing the immigration, go down the same steps. Walk up the slope to enter Laos, there will be a booth manned by a a few guys to checked that you have stamped your passport.
    We took a taxi ride to the customs which is 1km away. Reached there and got confirmation from them that their customs are open the following day.
    Realising that there's nothing in Houay Sai, we head back to the guesthouse.

    Wanted to eat here, but the place seems to be close. Even at night. We ate bread and instant noodle that night.
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    Early next morning we headed back to the immigration with full of hope. Met a guy who is driving a china registered car. He is also crossing over to Laos. We spoke to the boatman who insisted on 5000baht to get the boat to move. Does not matter how many bikes. Kept on repeating that today is still a public holiday. Waited for 1 hour but no other vehicle are crossing over.

    Finally managed to bargain down to 3500baht. We each paid 1000baht, car driver paid 1500baht. Fair enough.
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  6. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    Roads is northern laos.
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    Came to a stop when my buddy fell.
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    Lifted up his bike and pushed it for a mere 20 meters. Soon it became dark.
    No wonder there's no grip for his kind of tyres.
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    We kept on riding and riding and riding...... Our aim was to reach Luang Prabang. but soon it started to rain around 8pm. We were up in the mountains somewhere after udomxai when the fog became so thick that the speed drop down to less than 20km/h.

    The rain was getting heavier and around 12am, we decided to stop outside a shop. It was the coldest night of my life. Slept with riding jacket covered with Arai raincoat. My head was covered with balaclava and buff head gear. Put on helmet and gloves, still i was shivering. Managed to sleep till 6am.

    slept on that wooden plank.
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  7. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    We were greeted by a family of pigs at around 6am. Woke up and got ready to move off. Disaster struck 1km away.

    My bike died in the middle of nowhere on a mountain. It cranks but refuse to start. Checked the wiring and fuses, changed fuelpump, check spark at sparkplugs and even drain out carbs. Also tried to push start. We were stuck for 6 hours troubleshooting and trying to stop a vehicle which is empty and willing to load the bike up to Luang Prabang.

    Finally, an empty tuk tuk were more than willing to help us. Of course with a charge of US$50.
    It was a bone jarring 3 hours ride.
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    Carbs drained out.
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    On the tuk tuk.
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  8. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    In Luang Prabang, we stayed at Golden Lotus Guesthouse. US$30 per night. Called Chan from M teknik and a few friends back in Singapore to seek advice. Also went to GT-rider.com and emailed David. We spent the saturday night walking around the town.
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    There is a market in the morning right outside the guesthouse.
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    On sunday we got leads to contact Jim from http://www.remoteasia.com . He told me, there is a mechanic by the name of Lea(pronounced Lay). The shop is located beside a petrol station in Luang Prabang. If he is unable to do it, nobody in Luang Prabang can. Next alternative is to tow the bike to Vientienne which will cost US$200.

    Lucky for me, the guesthouse owner is very helpful. He made a few calls and soon got Lea hp number. Informed me that Lea will come over on Monday morning. In the meantime, we walked around town again. Even sat along the river during sunset.... :p
     
  9. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    Lea reached our guesthouse monday morning. His daughter was our translator. Did check for spark etc. Explained to the daughter what happened.

    He told us to bring the bike back to his shop.

    When i arrived at his shop, i was shocked to see how clean the place is. Tools were hanging nicely on the walls. Outside his shop, there is a Royal Enfield bullet.

    Shop is right beside Caltex
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    The interior.
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    He started to strip my bike. Removed the carbs and cleaned it. Blow out every hose that is fixed to the carbs and tank. Fix it back and the engine roars to life.

    I begin to realise that water must have seep past the tank cap when i park the bike overnight on side stand under heavy rain. A very expensive lesson.

    Cost US$30. Paid and left. We checkout of the guest house and head towards Vang Viang.

    The man, Mr Lea. Contact No : (856-20) 567 0001 / 755 0004
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  10. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    We skipped Plains of jars due to time constraint and head straight to Vang Viang. Slept at a guesthouse costing US$5.

    Next day at 6am, head down to Vientienne and out thru friendship bridge. Continued riding down to Bangkok. Reached the guesthouse at 10pm.

    Friendship bridge on top.
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    Guesthouse at Bangkok near Khao San road.
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    Red shirt.
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  11. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    After resting 2 nights in Bangkok, its time to head home.

    We left Bangkok at 5am and reached Singapore at 4.30am the next day.

    Overall, it was a nice experience and great scenery. Would love to do it again if time permits.
     
  12. zain

    zain Ol'Timer

    A good report indeed. Can't imagine that both of you could straight away went to Luang Prabang from Hoei Xai and tried to reach there in one day. It was so cool. But,experience is the best lesson. I believe that you'll agree with me that Laos is a fantastic hilly and scenetic country. :thumbup:
     
  13. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    Yeap, Laos got me amazed. But I was there during the "slash and burn" period. Would be better if it was in the later part of the year. :lol:
     
  14. zain

    zain Ol'Timer

    Yes,it is better go there from december to april. Very cold and no rain at all. :wink:
     
  15. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Wonderful report and great pictures! Seems enduro / dual sport tires are probably better than road tires in Laos!
     
  16. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    A very nice report. You guys covered a lot of kilometers and it looks like you enjoyed yourselves even with a few mishaps along the way. You handled it quite well.

    I do have a question about your entering Laos. You say you couldn't take the bikes across due to Songkran, but you went over and checked into Laos Immigration and entered Huay Xai. You then came back to Thailand, spent the night, and then cleared Customs the next day and went back to Laos. That is technically totally illegal. :shock: How (why) did you pull that off, or did you just get lucky and they didn't check your passports on the second day?

    Anyway, I am happy you had a great trip and no one was seriously hurt. :thumbup:
     
  17. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    Ohh... SilverhawkUSA, the bikes could not enter Laos because the customs in Thailand is closed due to songkran, but the Immigration booth is open. Therefore we can get our passport stamped out when we leave Thailand, but not the bikes customs declaration. :smile1:
     
  18. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Ohh... SilverhawkUSA, the bikes could not enter Laos because the customs in Thailand is closed due to songkran, but the Immigration booth is open. Therefore we can get our passport stamped out when we leave Thailand, but not the bikes customs declaration. :smile1:

    I understand that. But once you are stamped out of Thailand and stamped into Laos, you cannot just turn around and leave and reenter when you please. If you stamped into Laos and then came back and spent the night in Thailand, you were in the country (Thailand) illegally. If the next day you went to Laos and hadn't stamped out or stamped in again, you reentered Laos illegally. :wtf:

    I only point this out because many readers look at this and want to know the proper procedure for crossing the border. I don't want them to think that you can legally do this. Unless you had some sort of special permission because of the bike situation, you could have been open to some serious problems.
     
  19. zain

    zain Ol'Timer

    I think the procedure is like this. We Asian people do not require any visa. Just the white card would be suffice. I think our brothers did stamp out at the Thai border and stamp in at Laos border. Then,once came back,again, took the white card and stamped out at Laos and and stamped in back at Thai border. This would happen again for tomorrow. Hope our brothers could clarify this. :arrow:
     
  20. tbr27

    tbr27 Member

    Opps... I forgot that some of us here do require a visa.

    SilverhawkUSA, I did have my passport stamped when leaving/entering both Laos and Thailand on both occasions. Like what Zain said, I only need to fill in the white card. Sorry that i missed out on that one.

    No way i'm gonna let myself get into trouble. Even bought Lao-Viet insurance for a week costing only US$5 even before i leave the customs to ride towards the immigration. :happy5:
     
  21. burnjr

    burnjr Ol'Timer

    nice report to tied ride from HUay Xai to luang prabang normally riders,will stop at luang lam tha....for one nice

    no hurry ... :happy1: :happy2:
     
  22. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the reply Zain and TBR. After posting, I remembered that the procedure may be different for Asians, but I didn't know exactly how. It's good to get so many different experiences on the forum for those that may need the information in the future. :thumbup:
     
  23. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Tbr27
    Thanks for the contribution & trip report.
    You guys certainly had quite an adventure - a couple of spills & a broken bike in Oudom Xai.
    I'm glad you were able to get the bike sorted out ok in LPQ. Chan had SMS-ed me from Sing & I replied with my ideas, but Jim from Vte got to you first & everything was sorted out nicely.

    A common problem for many new guys riding here is to try & ride too far in a day. It's always best to slow down a bit & leave plenty of time for delays / stuff ups. Road & weather conditions can vary greatly in a few hours to catch you out easily. Houei Xai - Lung Prabang in a day is a big ride if you're new to Laos, & especially while the road construction is under way once more on R13.
    Your buddy on the Fazer 1000 excelled himself on R13 in Laos. Well done.

    I have to laugh at your spill on the way to the long necks, as I too have dumped it there once, but on a Honda Dream. And when I got up & tried to get on the bike I slipped over again. This time with the bike on top of me, flat on my back, pretty much totally submerged. Really funny, especially with an elephant mahout on his beast watching the silly farang fall over a 2nd time. Made his day I’m sure.

    I’m glad you enjoyed yourself & thanks again for the contribution.
    :thumbup:
     
  24. blackb15

    blackb15 Ol'Timer

    Really enjoyed the photos and report much food for thought as I am over from the UK in November and want to hire a bike in CM and take to Laos. The roads look more challenging than the Northen Thailand ones I remember from last year and I dont really want to drop a hire bike but still the tip about less miles should work. I didnt realise it might be as cold and tyres may be an issue on hire bike for Laos. I Hired a Honda 750 CB from Mr Mechanic which was great, but may not be ok for this trip any advice very welcome please

    Safe riding

    Paul
     

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