Laos the Trip - December 2011

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by brian_bkk, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    What a fantastic trip to Laos – 2nd to 11th Dec

    The previous weekend Frank and I took our bikes up to Nong Khai on the train then rode a nice scenic route along the Mekong cutting through to Loei.. Mike rode his bike up via Petchabun and met us Sunday evening in Loei.. We all flew back to Bangkok with the three bikes locked away at the hotel in the basement ready for our return the following Friday afternoon.

    Friday 2nd December our flight is changed to the morning due to the floods.. So we decided earlier in the week to forget about staying in Loei Friday night and head to Pak Lai that afternoon. Now we can try and ride through the NPA to Sayaburi as we are in Pak Lai and nice early start.. (Glad we did as the other road up to Sayaburi is horrible and would have been a waste of riding time)

    Ted takes his bike on the train Thursday evening. Frank, Mike and myself fly up.. We were in the taxi out side Loei airport not more than 5 mins and Ted passes us on his bike.. All going well and on schedule.. pick up the bikes from the hotel and go to the meeting point.. Mr Chris Steak House. Nice big feed and off we head to the border..

    Arrive at the border 1 hr later around 3 ish I believe.. took 1.5 hours to cross both sides.. Thai side was pretty efficient.. Lao side was slow.. nice big border post and nothing happening there.. Glad we followed Mark B’s advice and got the visas in Bangkok or this could have been a real hold up..

    NOTE:-
    They checked every bikes serial numbers with the green books.. Would not suggest any bikes try and pass here that are not legitimate.. Lao side they didn’t even look. Just very slow and three people manning the entire border post..

    The insurance office was closed.. So we rode on with out insurance.. Mark R told me in Luang Prabang that you can get insurance for the bikes at the Viet Lao insurance office if you ever come across this issue..

    Then up to Pak Lai.. Not a nice road.. gravel and potholes and generally pretty boring.. lots of dust of course.. Arrived Pak Lai just after dark. One of the gang spotted a nice guest house on the way in to town.. we all stayed there.. Used the GPS maps to find a dinner place and we were set…

    Pak Lai to Sayaburi.
    What an adventure.. Really fantastic.. 1 hour in to the ride and one of the gang has a head on with a local. Just one of those things… The made in China bike was in a few pieces on the road but otherwise no serious injuries just a little shaken up and money changed hands.

    The first part of the NPA is very tricky.. steep, very rutted and loose gravel.. Any brake pressure and you slide and the bike goes.. All part of the experience.. once you are past this is turns in to a lovely trail with creek crossings etc.. At the first check point some kid stops us with an AK 47 over his shoulder and asks for a smoke..

    Pulled in to Sayaburi late afternoon. Well worth the experience.. Just make sure you have some mechanical skills or a friend that can fix bikes if you break down as it is very remote and you don’t see many people.

    Sayaburyi to Luang Prabang (via Hong Sa)
    Lovely paved road all the way to Hong Sa.. really scenic.. Then you ride back a bit.. I think it is 8 km out of town and turn left on the dirt road to Luang Prabang.. This is really fantastic.. great trail, great scenery.. just lovely.. Nothing nicer than arriving in Luang Prabang on the ferry from the remote side of the river…

    Met up with Mark Rossi and Auke and a bunch of their friends by the Mekong.. Great to meet all these other riders / explorers.. The off road training we did 2 weeks early with Mark really paid off on this trip.

    Luang Prabang and around
    Two more of the Bangkok crew flew in the night before and joined up with the gang.. So they were keen to get riding around town. We rode down the main road then followed the Mekong to the ferry crossing on the road that come up from Tha Li crossing.. The ride was nice.. the main road up was terrible.. dust, dust and more dust and potholes.. Avoid this is you can.. a terrible and uninteresting road.. Thanks Jim from Remote Asia for this route suggestion.

    Luang Prabang to Vieng Kham
    We broke our own rule here and decided on a lazy start as some of us had been riding for 3 solid days and needed a bit of a rest.. so off we head at around 10 am. may be a bit earlier.. no room for any problems now.. so of course we get a nail through a tyre and lose 1.5 hours.. This meant is was dusk when we reached the end of the trail on the other side of the 1C and no prospect of getting to Vieng Thong any time soon.. So opted for Vieng Kham.. Found an OK guess house here and the food was good.. I think they ran around the village buying up the various orders from everyone..
    So 5 of us and only 1 room for rent with a hot shower.. the rest of the rooms have to share the common bathroom. Solution.. Rent the 6th room with shower as the group bathroom.. to the amusement of the locals..

    Vieng Kham to Vieng Thong
    As we had all this extra riding to get to Vieng Thong we decided against riding to the Pathet Lao caves as it was just too much in one day plus we all needed a bit of a rest..
    So we stayed in Vieng Thong and rode out to LIMA 36.. That was a great trail and hard to believe at an elevation of 1500 metres. Very steep at one point

    Vieng Thong to Phonsavan
    Very cold and cloudy.. but lovely scenery as you will see in the pics.. Did I say cold.. freezing and really hard to see.. Didn’t really enjoy all that down hill in the fog and wet road..
    Spent two nights at Phonsavan.. The second day we went out to the more remote Plain of Jars site three and did a loop around back to the main road.. This loop doesn’t show on the GPS trail I will post..

    Phonsavan to Muang Huang
    We followed Mikes route here that he did in Oct.. Great ride.. would recommend it.. nice cheap guest house in town and really good food.. We beat the local mini busses by about 10 mins luckily… Went over 2200 metres high this day. Lovely to be above the clouds.

    Muang Huang to Vientiane
    Another great ride and lovely scenery.. Though you start off on OK dirt road then it turns to single trail which is fun.. but then you get to this very slippery rocky stuff.. a few bikes went a dropping here.. once past here.. wait for the kids to swim across the rive and drive you across on the little ferry.. One heart in mouth situation.. The road was closed and we had gone 60% of the way.. If we turn back.. we will miss the train.. a few minutes later we understood that we had to wait until mid day and then we can proceed as the road works will stop.. very steep hill down and mostly paved.. but lots of big trucks coming up.. but at least they have an escort vehicle.. horrible gravel on the tarmac road.. My number plate managed to totally break in half.. when spotted we found it 2 km back down the road..

    Enjoy the pics guys.. We enjoyed the ride ?

    Brian

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    LS 36
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    End LS 36 pics up and at the site.

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    Plain of Jars Site 3
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    Vieng Thong to Phonsavan
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    Vieng Thong to LS 36 (Typo in the pic stating 37)
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    2200 metres above sea level

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    Pics updated due to lost links from Facebook URL changes.
     
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  3. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    High guys.. not sure why only the URL is showing here. I entered the usual.. [ url ] and [ /ur l] at the begining and end.

    Cheers
    Brian

    Worked it out. doh.. need to have img and /img for pic and url for youtube..
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Great report & photos. The sea of fog photos are sensational.
     
  5. mikehohman

    mikehohman Ol'Timer

    Enjoyed your report and pix! And good fun to ride with you and Frank and Ted. Was sorry to miss the second half of your trip. This goddamn job, earn a living, support your family stuff is really starting to interfere with my riding... And yeah, the cloud pix are great, glad you got that experience. But I want to hear more about the last day... the slippery slopes and the road closure?? Strange.

    Mike
     
  6. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Once you leave Muang Hueng and it turns to Single Trail.. you go up hill under the trees.. It was wet and slippery here and steep in bits.. The ar5e end of the bike was moving all over the place.. Once I came to a stop and for the first time ever didn't slide backwards. Normally I always end up sliding back, but on this horrible stuff, the front tyre stuck. My feet hit the ground more than a few times keeping the bike upright... Frank and I went on.. The others dropped the bikes and didn't feel comfortable so took the road to Paxan and on the Vientiane.

    The road closed was the pic with the cones.. It was OK in the end.. we just had to wait 15 mins.. but a bit of a worry initially.. All good though.. We were very brave and let the honda waves lead the way and followed :)
     
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

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