GT-Rider Mekong Cruise Part III

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by brian_bkk, May 27, 2014.

  1. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    G'day All,

    A quick report on the recent GTR Mekong Cruise.

    It was rather a dramatic start to this long weekend.
    Left work at 5pm taking the train to the airport and fly up to Chiang Mai.

    Check the news.. The Coup had just been announced.

    For a moment I did think.. I should go back to the office.. Luckily we have a new guy out here from our UK office.
    So messaged him and said not to worry.. TIT.. Nothing too bad will happen, been through one of these before.

    Continued on to the airport.

    Arrive CNX and head to the KAFE.. Meet up with Alex..

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    Bugger 10 PM curfew - Dad would be proud.. Even in these tough times I am helping to close the bar.

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    Just in case we were not convinced there is a curfew and things had gone to pot.
    The 7/11 had armour plated newspaper on the windows..

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    Now, being on holiday (3 day weekend) and having a fun time with Alex.
    We try and sniff out another bar. Spot the big hotel across the road and headed there.

    We helped shut this bar down too.

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    Then it was a stumble across the road to my hotel near by the Kafe.

    Hit the sack with far far far too many JD's under my belt..
    Wake up at around 5.15am ready to roll at 6am

    It really was too early for my head.

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    A big days ride ahead.. I don't usually like to do such long rides by myself.. Not being mechanical etc.
    But headed off as had to meet the guys in Pak Lay.. They were heading off from Loei.

    Secretly inside I was thinking.. It would be great to catch them at the border.

    Head off at 6am
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    Stop and take this pic on the way down to the border.. Checked my phone and the fellas were at the border.
    I was only 25 km away

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    Arrived at the border at 11.15am Probably would have been 11 but the road down to the border is pretty cut up, parts of it just hanging there.

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    The border staff very helpful and friendly.. Couple of army guys sitting around, all smiles and friendly.

    The immigration fixed up my visa.. In March Nong Khai only stamped me for 15 days instead of 90.. Never noticed.

    Ride over the bridge and the guys are pulled up doing the Lao formalities.. Perfect..
    Get that all sorted and we have a drink and up to Pak Lay. The road is on pretty good condition.

    The view from our Guest House

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    Hog Head called.. BEER O'CLOCK.

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    Next Jurgen and Peter arrive.. They took the boat from Luang Prabang.

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    The Master Photographer at work.

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    Time to load the bikes.
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    A few more beers up by the port and a great feed by the Khong that night.
    Off to bed and ready to wake up for the cruise..

    More to come...
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Yeehar bring it on. I'm still in Vientiane sitting out the curfew.
    I had a great time - thanks to all the guys who made it. Any trip sailing down that majestic wild free flowing Mekong river is super.
    Night from Vientiane for a few more days / nights.

    Power On. sent from Sony Xperia AcroS
     
  4. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Armour plated newpaper,...thats funny. 7/11 closed, wow, wonder if the staff knew where the key was kept,..or is there a lock on there doors at all?

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    You picked a good time to take a long weekend off Brian. Beers in a boat floating down the Mekong is far more appealing than the chaos of Bangkok right now.

    The Guesthouse in Pak Lay brought back some happy memories. I've stayed there a few times, and the owners are such lovely people.

    Moto-Rex
     
  5. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    One, two, three ... again a mighty trip down the big river. Without a bike this time, I enjoyed one more day from Luang Prabang to Pak Lai, Peter and me as the only guests on the fancy boat. A small crowd of 'mounted' friends joined in Pak Lai for a usual hilarious journey. Great fun again during this exceptional scenic glide down turbulent waters. Wer are all grateful to David for organizing these extraordinary cruises.
    As for the illustrations ... yes, I took again a lot of pictures and, for sure, they will once appear on GT-Riders site :)
     
  6. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    Hope you don't mind me butting into your report Brian but I thought it appropriate to add a couple of photos here:

    Hoghead test driving the immigration officers new three wheeled Yamaha
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    and what terrific folk the boarder guys are at this place
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  7. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Feel free to add pics and comments as you like.

    More the merrier

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  8. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Seems this trip is full of early starts. 6.30 am push off..

    Wake up to this from my room facing the Majestic Mekong

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    Stunning view of our Guest House from the Mekong

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    A bridge going in just down from Pak Lay

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    Early morning fishermen.

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    New roads going in further down stream

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    To the left is Thailand, to the right Laos.. Further up the river is the bridge and border crossing at Tha Li.

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    Cruising along the river now with Thailand on the right and Laos on the left.
    You can see a lot more development and exploitation of the Mekong along the Thai side of the river.
    A lot of dredging going on

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    Approaching Chiang Khan and a lone fisherman.

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    Chiang Khan on the right

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    Xanakham - Laos on the left.
    Sure Rexy / Tony and Oddvar will spot the little blue house just in front of the temple.
    Stayed here twice now and the same room on the left. Nice family run place and great view of Chiang Khan.

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    Some pretty impressive places along the Mekong on the Thai side. Really in the middle of no where.

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    Almost past Chiang Khan

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    Thumbs up from the GTR Captain.

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    More to come....
     
  9. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Party on the GTR Express..

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    The skipper working away.. These fellas work some long hours.. from the beginning of the day to the end of the day.
    Navigating the Mekong with 100% attention all the time.

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    The Master Photographer

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    Enjoying the scenery with Beer Lao in hand

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    More to come from this epic voyage..
     
  10. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    a few more snaps...

    A break on the way to Pak Lai after immigration
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    summoning up the energy to get the bikes on the boat
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    Good old super glue saves the day
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    The boat arriving at Pak Lai with Jurgen and Peter
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    Scenes like this make the early morning starts worthwhile
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    Bikes well resting on the boat
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    The skipper keeping a watchful eye while the pilot takes the helm
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    A very happy Tiger
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    Forward lookouts
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    Hoghead meeting new friends
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    Master and Commander
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    and may the force be with you...
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  11. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Great shots...

    Well captioned

    "may the force be with you..."
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    GTR Boat Cruise IV We need to take this young Jedi a Lightsaber...

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    Cheers
    Brian
     
  12. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Onwards we sail....

    What is not to take in... Ron Webb

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    Mr Peter

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    The Skipper and son.

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    Lunch is served

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    More of the Majestic Mekong.

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    The mighty Versys.

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    A grass fire on the Khong

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    More to come...
     
  13. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    That dusty dusty road along the Mekong to Vientiane...

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    Back to navigating the Mekong.. Love riding the road on the Thai side.
    This trip ticked my boxes as always wondered what it would be like to navigate through the rocks.
    Looks almost impossible from the road.

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    David ready for a quick exit should one of the many rocks take us out.

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    A marker to warn of rocks below the surface.. You also see bamboo tied to rocks as a guide to avoid that way..

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    More to come....
     
  14. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Hi one & all, just back in from the trip & an extended stay in Vientiane.

    First up a BIG THANK YOU to the boat owner, skipper & his family.
    What a boat & crew you have.

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    I've almost lost count of how many boat trips I've done with Ty & his family, but every trip has been special & highly rewarding.

    The planned GTR Mekong Boat Trip Part 4 is gonna be outrageous.

    See you again soon.

    Photos to come..
     
  15. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    some of the scenery along the way

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    this tree must have a few years on it. its huge
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    the skipper and his poilot
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    ever present village kids having a good time
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    I dont know what this place is but it reminds me of a mini Vimanmek Palace.
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  16. Javawa

    Javawa Guest

  17. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    At different angles you see different things.. To the left is a temple, and more modern builds..
     
  18. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    In the home stretch now.. Vientiane not far away...

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    Vientiane..

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    Thanks for this picture Peter.
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    Big THANK YOU to David for making this trip happen and to the rest of the guys that joined.
    A pleasure to ride and cruise down the Mekong together.

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  19. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    It was an on time getaway for the 3 guys
    Ron Webb
    Robert Hoghead
    David Unk
    riding from Chiang Mai.

    Slowing down in Lampang Hoghead passes me & signals to the rear. I immediately pull over & take a look at the back of my bike. Nothing wrong. Hoghead walks over & gingerly says he has to go back to Chiang Mai - forgot his passport & bike docs. Oops. Wise Ron then suggests just ringing his driver to bring the docs down would be quicker. We all concur - 3 wise men now. Hoghead agrees to hang out alone at the PTT just north of Lampang to wait for his driver & valuables, while Ron & I power on, albeit not quite as fast.

    First stop for Ron & I the Den Chai Doi Chaang Tree Park. A gem of a coffee spot & one I've always wanted to check out.

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    If you're in a rush don't stop here; but if you've got time for a nice relaxing break, check it out.

    We must have dropped 40 minutes here, then motored on.

    A fuel splash & dash was the at the PTT on the north side of Uttaradit, & what a goldmine this PTT has always been.
    The staff have improved too I noted

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    Lunch was in Chat Trakarn & we hit Loei around 4PM.
    A quick shower & lay down in the aircon.

    I kicked back to have a chuckle about Hoghead & send out a message to check where he is AND .......& he's already at Mr Chris' having a beer. Now that's powering on for a beer I thought.

    Coup Day 2 & curfew night it was - bedtime 10PM.
    Dinner was at the Ban Rom Mai by the Loei roundabout.

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    Day 1 was down.
     
  20. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    Mr Brian celebrating the fact that the bike disembarkation is completed without dropping any bikes in the mighty Kong. Or more likely, 'Now that the bikes are off, its time for more cold Beer Laos'.
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    A few days later, riding along the Thai side of the river on R211 Nong Khai to Chiang Khan, you cant help wondering how that boat manage to come down through this river just a few days ago
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    As a foot note, the day after I got home, I went to give the bike a bit of a clean and the front tyre was flat as a pancake with a small pin hole in the tube. Very happy that it got me home without having to fix that on the road.
     
  21. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Day 2 Loei - Tha Li - Nam Heuang - Pak Lay

    Up "early" (for me) 8am
    A sumptuous breakfast a the Kings that I had lured Hoghead & Ron Webb to

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    best in the world someone said, but the jury was out.

    Onward to the border

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    & we were a bit apprehensive whether there would be any complications because of the coup.

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    AND there were.......

    absolutely zilch.
    It could not have been easier or more friendly on both sides.

    On the Thai side no vehicles, no crowds.
    Just the two official Immigration & Customs booths close together.

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    Plus the friendliest security ever.

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    zero stress from a coup 2 days before.
    I said that we were concerned about possible border closures & was told farang think too much. we Thais are used to coups, they happen all the time. Life goes on & nothing much changes.
    How true, rock on Thailand.

    Paperwork done & casually ride over to the Laos side - deserted.
    It is so laid back that it is difficult get much done.... midday & afternoon siesta was fast approaching we reckoned.
    It must have taken twice - three times as long on the Lao side, yet there were no other people crossing. Lao PDR alright.
    Then just about as we are ready to roll, another farang rocks up on a bike - Brian Bkk. Ho Ho. What a ride he must have had coming down from Cnx, starting at 6Am straight to the border.
    Another 45 minutes, with Lao staff working into lunch time, & we were clear.

    Time for a pose & celebration.

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    Now for the record a special note on the border crossing on the Thai side.
    The border is called Nakraseng, but the immigration port stamp that goes in your passport is Tha Li.

    More to come...
     
  22. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Day 2 continued. Pak Lay.
    Arrival time in Pak Lay was around 1.30PM with loads of time.
    I scouted town a little & noticed the Jenny (Jaihnny) Guesthouse, strategically located over looking the 'Khong & the boat landing. Just perfect, Brian BKk did an inspection & we all agreed it would do for the night.

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    80,000 kip for the aircon rooms & 50,000 kip for the fan rooms.
    One short on the aircon rooms I volunteered to take a fan room downstairs, where it was cooler & no need for aircon.
    I was onto a winner too I thought

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    and the view to watch the boat come in

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    Yeehar, several beers later the boat comes & we are in the perfect spot to observe.

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  23. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Funny how it goes.
    My winning room not only had no aircon, but no hot water as it turned out.
    My pen rai it was only one night = 2 chilly scrub ups, one that night & one the next morning at first light, ready to be on the boat at 6.30AM.
    Being somewhat cold too they were quick showers, especially the early morning one.
    I thought I'd slept well after a few afternoon beers

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    & a big meal hearty meal, plus closing down the Pak Lay Saikhong karaoke with the local school teachers.

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    I probably slept a little too well because 36 hrs later....

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    Yep bed bugs, the little blighters had enjoyed a feeding frenzy that night.

    So most definitely NO RECOMMENDATION from me for the Jenny Guesthouse in Pak Lay.
    AND
    Ron Webb agrees with me.

    More to come..
     
  24. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    Whoohoo...tonight Meals on Wheels brought us a full buffet !!

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  25. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

    Great...had this photo on my screen when my wife walked into my computer room......

    "You looking at skanky porn again????!!!!"

    Sigh........
     
  26. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    Indeed I do agree David. Had the back of my neck eaten away and the next day thought it was sunburn until I had it checked in CNX. Nasty little sods they are.
     

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