Holy Moses...An Adventurous motorcycle ride in Laos.

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Moto-Rex, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Holy Moses. An Adventurous motorcycle ride in Laos.

    Date. December 2012.

    The best dirt bike video on Youtube here.

    GPS TRACKS HERE> http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/forumdisplay.php/121-Laos-Northern-GPS-Tracks

    Riders. BrianBKK, and me, Moto-Rex

    Bikes. Two white KLX250s

    Plan. Start in Houei Xai, and finish eleven days later in Vientiane.

    Brian had asked me to come up with a rough plan that was very flexible, and one that had a few tracks that he hadn’t ridden before, and didn’t see us sleeping with the tigers. The plan also had to involve plenty of “Beer Lao Sunset” drinks at the end of each day.

    So I made up a rough plan, which had to change on day one due to the time it took to cross in to Laos, and from there we took it one day at a time due to the heavy rain on the days before we left.

    In the end this is how the trip ended up, which wasn’t too different from the original plan.
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    Day one.

    Crossing over to Houei Xai.

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    The plan was to cross over, and head towards Muang Meung, or further if time allowed, but the border crossing took forever due the Laos officals lunch back that started at 11am and finished at 2.00pm. We arrived at 11.10am, so a long wait was had. Once they got back to work, the customs paper work took no time at all, but at Immigration office things didn’t go so smoothly, for me any way. Brian handed he’s passport etc to the official, and was all done in 5 minutes. I handed over mine, and I could see the head guy going through every page one by one, then putting it a side, then doing a few more passports, and then going through every page again. This went on for about an
    hour, and I would say it had something to do with the recent crack down.

    It was about 3.30 by time we were all finished, so we thought we would stay in Houei Xai, and go for a ride to the new bridge for a look, but it began to rain big time. So we booked into a guesthouse, got cleaned up, and headed to the river to indulge in our first “sunset beers by the Mekong” for the trip.

    Plan….what plan. The first of many sunset beers.
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    The best food in Laos (IMO) The Houei Xai Kaew restaurant, look for the big yellow roof.
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    Day Two.

    Houei Xai to Luang Namtha, via Xieng Kok.

    This is a great dirt ride, theres lots of accommodation if you need it along the way in Muang Meung, Xieng Kok, Long, and of course Muang Sing.

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    It was an early start, as we knew it was going to be a big day in the mud due to all the recent rain.

    The early morning fog in the main street of Houei Xai.
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    After a short 30km ride north, we headed west to the Muang Meang with sun peering through the fog.
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    Looking at the road ahead, it was cool and sunny. What away to start a trip.
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    The only thing that wasn’t green was the Kawasaki.
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    First fuel stop for the still very clean KLXers in Muang Meung.
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    An interesting Wat by the Mekong in Xieng Dao. This is where the locals pray that they can get through to Xieng Kok in the wet season.

    Xieng Dao is where the road starts to get messy.
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    These two young fellas come up to look at the strangely dressed foreigners.
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    I think it’s fair to say, that these truck drivers were not enjoying the track as much as Brian and me were.
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    Lunch time on the trail.
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    Brian,…. “KLX rider and master chef”, had a good idea. Buy a couple of bread rolls and a can of tuna in the towns that had them so we didn’t have to rely on jungle food when got hungry or lost.
    I was very impressed with Brians culinary skills. He’s sort of a cross between Jamie Oliver and Daniel Boon.

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    I don’t know what was in Brians bread roll, but it certainly gave him wings.

    The red bull approach to riding in the mud.
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    This is me stuffing up the corner, and almost taking out the camera man.
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    I love these bridges.
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    The river below the bridge.
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    Good riding through here.
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    The KLXers parked on the outskirts of Xieng Kok.
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    Its a great road ride that cuts through the Nam Ha NPA from Muang Sing to Luang Namtha.
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    Brian needed a splash of fuel so as to make to Luang Namtra, he found a young lady with beer bottle full of gas. Was it 91, 95, 98? …who cares. If you have a bike that needs special fuel needs when riding in this part of the world….get rid of it.
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    We made it to Luang Namtha just on dark. After finding a couple of rooms, and washing the mud off, it was off the have berated sunset beers and a feed at Manychan Resturant.

    Great days ride…now to wash down the mud.
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    MORE TO COME>
     
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  3. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Day Three.

    Luang Namtha to Boun Neua.

    Best part of this ride is the dirt track that cuts from hwy 13 to Boun Tai, normally pretty easy going, but the rain made it super slippery, and much more fun.
    There is Accommodation Boun Tai if you need it.
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    Again we left early, as had no idea how long the dirt section would take with all the rain.

    Leaving Luang Namtra and the sky’s were grey.
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    There’s a road side market at the start near the start of the track to Boun Tai on hwy 13.
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    We brought some peanuts of these ladies to go with the tuna rolls.
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    Start of the track.
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    A little further up the track it became a muddy. I couldn’t believe how slippery it was. Good fun, but slow going.
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    A classic Lao bridge. More like a work of art than a bridge.
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    The bridge was tolled at 2000 kip per bike.
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    Nice river crossing get some of the mud off.
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    This local had the hot line.
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    After a couple of hours slipping and sliding, we stopped at a small village for lunch. We had our trusty rolls and tuna, and brought some warm cans of sponsor to wash them down with.
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    The lady who owned the convenience store and her little baby watched on as Brian spread the tuna into the roll. I heard the baby say to he’s mum…..”now that’s a knife”.
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    Arriving at Boun Tai.
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    After a quick drink in Boun Tai, we topped up the bikes at this small gas stop.

    Photo says it all…just love this country.
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    After saying goodbye to the refueller and her little apprentice, it was back on the road to Boun Neua, and the” Hao Xayalath” guesthouse. Try saying that after a few beers.
    I never did ask what the “things for rent” were.
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    The bikes after a good days ride in the dirt.
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    We found a little noddle shop in town that had good food, so after a feed and a couple of beers, before crashing out.

    MORE TO COME>
     
  4. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Day Four.

    Boun Neua to Ou Tai, then up to the Chinese border, and back down to spend the night in Ou Tai.
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    The weather was prefect again for the ride north to the Chinese border, riding in and out of the clouds, the scenery was stunning.
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    We stopped here to take a few photos, and while doing so a small group of kids appeared from nowhere.
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    Soon the small group turned into a large gathering, they seem to be coming from everywhere.
    It’s funny how some villages you ride into the kids run for the hills, and others that maybe only 5 kms down the road are like this one, where the kids are really intrigued by you, and come close with no fear at all.
    People often ask what’s the best thing about Laos, the riding? the food? the beer? Well for me it’s the look on the kids face when he/she sees themselves on the camera LED. Its priceless.

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    While in Chiang Mai shopping, I noticed a Frisbee, so I brought it thinking it would be a good toy for the village kids. You can’t break it, and everyone can join in.

    So at this village which we renamed “Ban Frisbee” I took it out to see what would happen.
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    Instant success, they loved it, although I reckon we had more fun than the kids with it. We stayed about 15 minutes before heading off, leaving the Frisbee with them. There Frisbee skills were very poor, but I sure they’ll get the hang of it, but in saying that, Brian’s accuracy with the round plastic flying device was far from prefect either. I think for both of us, this was one of those great travel experiences you have every now and them.
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    We ventured on.
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    The towns up this way are very poor, even by Lao standards.
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    I don’t know what they live on, it looked like even the chickens and the pigs had packed their bags and left.
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    We arrived in Ou Tai, and refuelled the bikes before heading north to the border.
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    The Laos-Chinese border crossing.

    After taking this photo, we ride slowly down to get closer to the border so as to take a few photos. BAD MOVE. As we approached this building, a guy came out waving he’s arms and yelling at us to go back. I noticed a big plaque that said Lao-Chinese border post in front of the building, I also noticed the guard didn’t have a gun, so I thought Id take the chance and go a little closer, then try and humour him, so as to get a photo of the KLXers with the riders, in front of the plaque. There was no humouring this guy, in fact he went ballistic, and tried to karate kick me. Lucky for me, the race breed KLX has a good turning cycle, and enough power that it enabled me to flee the enraged official without being harmed. Funny (now)

    We fled the scene.
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    A few kilometres down the road we stopped and took this photo. Yep the very top.
    Why did we come all the way up here? I don’t know really.
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    We then continued south back down to Ou Tai.
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    Back in Ou Tai, and the no name hotel.
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    It all looked flash. But nothing worked. I don’t think the TV had ever been plugged in.
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    Bathroom was flash too. But none of the fittings including the toilet had water going to them. The only water was the tap above the plastic bucket.
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    After a wash and a change of clothes we wandered down to the main street on Ou Tai, which is a small town where there’s not much going on. We walked up and down the main street looking for a place where we could sit and take part in the daily ritual of drinking sunset beers, and this case, early sunset beers.
    There was only one place that looked ok, and it was closed, so we knocked on the door, and explained to the owner that we were motorcycle riders, and that we came in peace, and we also come in search of a liquid that was known to be the nectar of the gods. He didn’t speak a word of English, so we pointed to a fridge that thankfully was full of beer Lao…. Icy cold Beer Lao.

    The restaurant was a great spot to watch to world go by as the sun went down.
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    Day turned into night, and the icy cold beers were going down a treat.
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    The cook was getting the fire ready for the BBQ. Good we thought, because we getting hungry.
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    But then the meat arrived, mostly in a ball of ice, and it didn’t smell real good. It was instant loss of appetite, so we had a few more beers instead.
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    A couple hours later we knew it was best we found something to eat, we both had the rocking shoes on, and things were only going get worse if we didn’t eat.

    Then walked in the owner’s dog, right on que. Looking at he’s face, the K9 casserole knew what we were thinking.
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    Beer Lao and… barbequed mans best friend,…. sounds good when you’ve had a skin full.

    But the owner wouldnt have it. He said the dog was he’s draughters, and it was off the menu.
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    We tried to convince the girl to give up her pet, but she refused. At the time I thought it was selfish of her seeing that we were so hungry.
    But we didn’t hold a grudge; after all it was her pet I suppose.
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    We found a place a little up the road that sold Chinese instant noodles and they would have to do.
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    This was for me the best night of the trip. Nothing fancy, a small restaurant where you wouldn’t eat the food, on a dusty old road in the middle of nowhere, where we sat down and had too many beers, and interacted with great local people, who no doubt thought we were a couple dog eating nut cases. Imagine what the little girl said at school the next day….. “Yeh, these 2 white guys came to dads restaurant and wanted to eat my dog”

    Last drinks. We were first there and last to leave, and we walked like snakes all the way back to the hotel.
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    Please note. No dog was injured, killed, or eaten by participates in this ride.

    MORE TO COME>
     
  5. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Day Six.

    Ou Tai to Muang Khua.

    This ride has everything from new tar, to a surface that resembles Mars.
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    Another foggy start to the day in more ways than one due to the over indulgent of Chinese noodles the night before.
    We didn’t have anything to eat before leaving. We thought it was better to get to Boun Tai where we knew there was good food, and can of ice coffee waiting.
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    The fog didn’t lift this time. In this case we rode above the cloud line.
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    We missed a turn off and ended up at the Laos/Chinese border crossing at Pakha.
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    We finally made it to Boun Tai, and tucked in to an omelette, and coffee.
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    After bunch, it was back on the road to Muang Khua.
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    If look closely, you can just make out a scooter that’s jammed under the truck. Lucky for the man and woman on the bike, they were pushed out of the way on impact. It happened right in front me, I thought they were goners. I bet the guy riding the bike wont cut the corner again. Scared hell out me.
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    We arrived in Muang Khua in the dark, due to being held up by road works.
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    It was a big days ride.

    TO BE CONTINUED>>>
     
  6. yempaul

    yempaul Ol'Timer

    Fantastic ... waiting for the rest of the photos ...
     
  7. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Another ripper report Rexy...

    Love the way your tell it.. Was great fun and memories for life...

    I did a bit of editing on the bike under the truck photo.. below

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  8. Pete_Tallahassee

    Pete_Tallahassee Active Member

    Great report. I think the kids are the highlight of a trip. Who knows what you started with that Frisbee.
     
  9. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Day Six.

    Muang Khua to Nong Khiew through the hills.

    Great ride with a real remote feel. As you can see by the image below, the first section is pretty wild, and it’s easy to get lost. I rode this track a couple of years ago in the dry season when there wasn’t much vegetation, but after the wet, its thick jungle, so much so I couldn’t believe we were on the same track.
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    I told Brian that it would take about 2 hours to get to Nong Khiew, and that it was flat riding after a couple of steep hills, but it was steep mountain after steep mountain, …. where I got the 2 hours from I don’t know. I kept telling Brian that these mountains were new.

    The cautious approach to riding in the mud.
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    And the courageous approach to riding in the mud.
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    There are some amazing little villages in this area, that seem completely block off from the rest of the world.
    I got the feeling that they hadn’t seen to many foreigners in these parts. Lovely people. I have some more photos on the GoPro I’ll put up later.
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    The bridge at Nong Khiew.
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    Nong Khiew is one of the best little towns in Laos I reckon.

    The huts on the left are where we stayed. What a spot.
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    Day Seven.

    Kong Khiew to Phonsavan.

    The plan was to ride down hwy 1C to Vieng Thong, and cut down to Phonsavan on the dirt.
    But I had under estimated how long it would take to get to Vieng Thong, making it too late in the day to go that way. In high insight, to do this track we should have stayed in Vieng Thong instead of Nong Khiew. In saying that, Nong Khiew was a great place to spend the afternoon and night. Great food, cold refreshments, in a spectacular setting. Remember, there’s more to a riding trip than just riding.

    This is a big 400km ride on the tar when riding a trail bike.
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    MORE TO COME>>Story continued on page 2............................
     
  10. jsbkk

    jsbkk Ol'Timer

    Great adventure you guys! Fantastic pictures with some lovely scenery and excellent writeup.

    Brian - The Frisbee was a brilliant idea :clap:

    This is like a dream ride. Hope it becomes true for me one day.
     
  11. Not on a Yamaha

    Not on a Yamaha Ol'Timer

    Fantastic trip report!
    Brilliant photos!

    You guys certainly made the kids day!
     
  12. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Thanks, but the Frisbee idea was Rex's. But will be taking a couple of frisbees on my next Lao trip for the kids.
    They really did love it and it was a good ice breaker where they were not scared of us.

    May be we need a GTR Frisbee.. See how many of these pop up in villages over Laos..

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  13. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    It took a while.. But I think we did finally finish all those crates of beer in the wee hours of the morning

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  14. bartomeer

    bartomeer Ol'Timer

    Nice report guy's!!
     
  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Are these guys related to Lee Marvin & John Wayne, sitting on the porch drinking like that?
     
  16. jsbkk

    jsbkk Ol'Timer

    Curious to know how many kms/day on an average do you guys cover on such trips?

    Must be physically very demanding! Wonder if I could ever do it.
     
  17. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

    Have to wait for Rex to post the GPS tracks.. But yes, we were ready for a rest break by Nong Khiew..
    Took a half day.. Biggest issue is the food quality and not getting sick..
    We are both adventures eaters.. but no one wanted Lao belly in the boonies and you can't ride with out soiling yourself or bed ridden with stomach cramps.

    Also the mud slowed us down.. We always tried to be in town before sunset as too dangerous out there in the dark and besides, that would be a waste of Beer Lao time.

    From Houei Xai to Vientiane we did 2,400 km according to my speedo..
    That was over 12 days in Laos..
    The first day (Day 13) was getting there from Chiang Rai and a wash out due to heavy rain in the afternoon.. We had an afternoon off in Nong Khiew and a day off in Luang Prabang.. Late start the next day to Kasi via the Kasi track.. But both of us needed the rest by LPQ.. arms aching and just had two big rides the previous two days. Nong Khiew to Phonsavan and Phonsavan to LPQ via dirt.

    Anyone can do it.. just pace yourself and take a break when you need it.. Don't try and stick to some schedule.. Something will happen along the way that will change your plans anyway..
    rain, flat tyre, a nice place you want to hang out in a bit longer and so on.

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  18. tehsk30

    tehsk30 Ol'Timer

    wow...that was awesome...
     
  19. jsbkk

    jsbkk Ol'Timer

    Wow! Thats a lot of kms you guys covered. "Anyone can do it.." ?? To me, 2400+ kms in one trip doesn't seem easy at all!

    But I am learning fast. Thanks to you guys for all the tips and great advise. Appreciate.

    Cheers
    JS
     
  20. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer Staff Member

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    Rex, you forgot to mention the bed sheets had been slept in before..
    I discovered a few black curly hairs in my bed and obvious signs the bed had been slept in before.

    Turned the sheets over (inside out) and put a shirt over the pillow...

    Not the first time had this in Laos.. Doesn't make going to bed and keeping warm under the blankets very appealing..
     
  21. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Love this shot

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    heading off into another world maybe?
     
  22. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Day Seven.

    Phonsavan to Luang Prabang.

    After heading west out of Phonsavan along hwy7, we turned north on to a dirt track near Nong Tang.
    About 10kms in the track becomes very steep, with deep ruts, and many landslides to ride over.

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    As you can see it was like a roller coaster.
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    This was taken not far from the start of the dirt track.
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    There were plenty of little villages until about 10kms into the track. Then there was nothing.
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    The only people we came across were a few groups of armed soldiers.
    It was slow going through the mountains, a lot of it steep single trail, and at the time, we didn’t know if it was going to be like this all the way to Luang Phabang, if it had been, we would have got there, late the next day if we were lucky.

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    After a few hours we came to this river.
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    It was just beautiful here. Like an oasis.
    I drew the short straw, so I was first to try the crossing.
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    The captains rules were simple…sit down, and hold on to your bike.
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    I made it across without getting wet, then it was Brian’s turn.
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    The river was deep, wide, and the current was flowing very fast, but the captain got us to the other side without a problem.
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    Once we were across, we stopped for a drink and a couple of litres of fuel. From here the track was still steep, but was now a lot wider with plenty of villages.
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    Once over the mountain, the track flattened out.
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    There’s lots of river crossings which kept us cool.
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    As we got closer to Luang Prabang, the road widened, but the road works brought us to a halt.
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    You could see this as an inconvenience. But this sort of thing has a way of building comrade between the foreign riders, and the locals, because where all in it together.
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    Would these little kids ever have had their photos taken by tall white guys in spaceman suits if it wasn’t for the komatsuo blocking our path?
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    It was another big day on the bikes, and arrived in Luang Prabang just on dark.
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    And you guessed it……within 15mins we were sitting by the Mighty Mekong, sipping a cold beer, as the sun went down in the distance.
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    This was a great days ride.

    TO BE CONTINUED.
     
  23. Not on a Yamaha

    Not on a Yamaha Ol'Timer

    Utterly brilliant! Loving the pics!
    You guys had a brilliant trip!
     
  24. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Fantastic trip report & fotos. I'm sure you two enjoy that trip very much but as I know you, there will be more to come soon 5555555. Love the foto of both of you both 'armed' with a Beer Lao bottle in front of the shophouse, something you never run the risk of being short of in Laos me thinks, better supply chain than any petrol pump & bottles 55555, cheers, Franz
     
  25. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Day Nine.

    Luang Prabang to Kasi, riding down hwy 4, to the turn off that takes you to Kasi.

    I know riding the track that follows the Mekong to the turn off would have been a nicer ride than dusty old hwy 4. But we were in Luang Prabang, so a long breakfast by the Mekong, with great coffee made it a late start. Just love that town.
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    After a “kick back and take it easy” day eight in Luang Prabang, it was time to hit the road again, leaving the Pizzas, great Lao food, massages, red wine, lunch time beers by the Mekong, afternoon beers by the Mekong, and sunset beers by the Mekong behind us.
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    There were four bikes parked outside our hotel with Thai rego plates. I’ve never seen bikes so clean.
    They were definitely riding different tracks to the ones were using.

    Nice bikes, with every gadget you could think of.
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    About half way down hwy 4 we got puncture number two for the trip.
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    We kept the local kids entertained while fixing the flat. They were great little kids, and we had a good laugh we them. Getting this flat was one of the best experiences of the trip.
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    Brian finishing off the job.
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    We brought our little mates an orange drink each, thanked them for allowing us to use their veranda for a workshop, and said goodbye.
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    There was this hut at the start of the Kasi track/road/freeway, so we stopped for a lunch break.
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    The Kasi road is one of the biggest road developments I’ve ever seen. It’s staggering just how big, and how much road work is going on in Laos.
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    The noise from the rock drilling was deafening even when riding past wearing a helmet, so imagine how loud it was for the guys with the drills in their hands.
    No hearing protection all.
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    This is one of the finished sections, I reckon there’s still a year or two away from finishing the road all the way.
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    The road we were riding was at the bottom of this hill. Note the bolder in the middle of the photo rolling down. It was the size of a car. You had to gas it when you thought you could get past without getting squashed.
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    We arrived in Kasi, which is no Luang Prabang. It’s really just a bus/truck stop. There were plenty of restaurants, all of them grotty looking. We picked what looked to be the cleanest, and ordered some tucker. The beer was nice.
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    TO BE CONTINUED.
     
  26. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Day Ten.

    Kasi to Xanamkhan.
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    For me this is one of the most enjoyable rides in Laos. The road goes through think forest, follows large mountain ranges, there’s plenty of river crossings, and it just seems to flow along nicely.
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    We stopped for a break and meet up with some locals.
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    This was a beautiful little town. I reckon I’ll go back here one day and explore this part of Laos at a slower pace. I would like to spend a couple of nights here.
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    Brian and I are very similar in many ways, we both love the riding, food, beer, and all the adventure that riding in Laos has to offer, as well as having a “take it easy” and “see what happens” attitude to it all.

    The one thing that we are completely miles apart, is our riding style when it comes to river crossings, and deep muddy tracks. You may have noticed it in some of the photos.

    I’m the conservative trail rider. I approach the rivers and mud in a style where I pick the smoothest line, carefully avoiding rocks and deep holes, in an attempt to get to the other side, without falling off or getting my boots wet. Even the fish look up, smile and wave as I ride carefully past.

    Brian’s approach is somewhat different. The best description I can come up with is “shock and awe.”

    This approach is far more spectacular than mine, and I will say, he does stay dry until the aquaplaning cesses, and gravity takes over, which creates what was known the biblical times as the “Moses” effect.

    Even with the noises from the bike, and the water bomb exploding under it, you can still hear the rider laughing.
    Not so happy are the fish….no smiles and waves for Brian from our scaly friends.
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    Lets take a closer look at that shall we.

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    We had a good laugh here, as at most river crossing… Yes, he got wet…..again.
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    We ventured on, stopping for a drink at this little town.
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    Brains bike with the hot pipe, and different ECU box, used a bit more fuel than my standard KLX, so now and then he needed a splash and dash to get to the next destination.
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    The new promenade, on the banks of the Mekong River at Xanamkhan.
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    And our chosen watering hole for the night, on the promenade, on the banks of the Mekong River.
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    The sun setting over the Thai town of Chiang Khan and the Mekong River.
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    The food and beer were excellent in this restaurant, and we had a ball there.
    Karaoke, and a strange form of aussie dancing was brought on by the Beer Lao.

    Another ripper night, after another ripper day’s ride.
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    TO BE CONTINUED.
     

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