I was planning to do this trip towards the end of this year,but a combination of lack of work and cheap airfare deals due to the political situation in Thailand meant the trip was brought forward,with a workmate,Phil,accompanying me. Arrived Bkk on the 12th Feb,did a few family commitments and flew to Udon Thani,then on to VTE across the Friendship Bridge,and had a tuk tuk driver take me to a guesthouse.Had a major computer crash 2 days before I left Australia so lost all my prepared notes for the trip. Woke up nice and early in Vientiane,had breakfast,and hopped into a tuk tuk to go over to meet Jim from Remote AsiaTravel to pick up the bikes which Phil and I would be riding on our 6 day adventure around Laos. Phil was already there,having come over from Korat on the overnight train.Quick run down on the bikes,a Honda CRF250 for Phil,and a Honda XR400 for me,selected helmets,jackets and boots and strapped our bags onto the bikes. Got off to a bad start when Phil hopped on hisbike,rolled backwards and knocked my bike over.Sigh.....was this a portent of things to come? No damage to the bike fortunately,and with the supplied map and a suggested route we were off! Head towards the friendship bridge,turn left and follow the Mekong towards Paxsan,where we would then head inland to our intended overnight stop at Thatom. The dirt road was in good condition,but pretty boring as it meandered along the river.Not sure how many wrong turns we took,as there wasn't any signage,but we just kept going down endless tracks,until we hit a bitumen road which took us straight to Paxsan on route 13. Phil stopped for some roadside dried fish.The stall was manned by children,and I noticed one shy boy of about 6 hanging back and not joining in the fun of trying to interact with these crazy farang.Having"borrowed" the idea of another GT rider,I had packed a few frisbees in my bag,so trying to engage this young chap I took one out and indicated for him to catch it. Of course when I threw it to him from about 3 metres away he just stood there and let it hit him in the head with a resounding clunk. Sigh,all the other kids thought this was so funny,so I put my helmet on him ready for the next throw......... From Paxsan we headed towards route 10,to Thatom.The road wound it's way through the increasing hilly terrain,with lots of dirt sections and big potholes and wheel ruts ,t was slow going.Along this road were many logging trucks,and you had to enter blind corners carefully as you never knew when one would come flying around the bend on your side of the road. Saw many broken down trucks,and when we stopped to take a photo of one a couple of armed soldiers materialised out of the bush and watched us!They seemed friendly enough,though I'm not sure why an army post was there... We also came around a bend and saw a truck pulled up on our side of the road,and a severly damaged motorbike lying in front of it.I stopped to take a photo,but unfortunately my camera/lens hadn't liked the vibration on the bike and gave me a few blank photos.As quite a few people were looking distressed sitting on their haunches with their head in their hands I assumed it wasn't a good outcome for the rider,and didn't want to hang around trying to get my camera working. Phil was in full tourist mode,snapping pics left right and centre.....here he heads back to take a photo of a broken down truck. We arrived in Thatom just as it was getting dark(and cooler),and found a newish looking guesthouse,Manysok was the name,on the right as you head out of town.There were a couple of other guesthouses I saw,but seemed to be deserted or closed. Took two rooms,50,000 kip each. Was disappointed to find out there was no hotwater (should have asked first,basic mistake,not to be repeated),so after a freezing cold shower went down the road for some noodle soup.And a beer lao ortwo. Woke next morning to find the town shrouded by fog,and a bit of chill in the air..... After dressing in what warm clothes we had we set off for Phonsavan,our next stopover. The road to Phonsavan along route 10 was paved,but had a few nasty bumps,a couple which launched me out of the seat a few times.It was slow going,with Phil stopping many times to take photos of tractors,mountains,tractors,mountains...... I was usually pottering along at 30 to40kph,waiting for him to catch up.It was whilst I was pulled up waiting for him I took the photo of the Laos travelling salesman..... As I am in the high voltage distribution game,I was amused to see some very expensive and fragile items of HV switchgear being transported in the back of a pickup down the dusty,bumpy road.I remember installing some cheap Vietnamese VT's once in a switchyard,which blew up when we energised them,taking out the supply to 3 minesites.....now I think I know why! Arrived safely in Phonsavan,and ended up staying two nights there,mainly because we couldn't find the Plain of Jars within the time we had allowed to explore the site. Can't remember the name of the hotel,but it was next to the Lao-falang restaurant mentioned elsewhere in this forum.100,000 kip a night,and could lock the bikes up overnight in the small storage space they have beside the hotel. More to come....might cut down on the pics though.