Laos Trip Report Part 3 (Feb 19-21)

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Poompui, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

    First two parts can be found here....

    (Gotta love that jetlag!)

    Ok,before we begin todays episode,a couple of things bugged me on this trip to Laos.
    As I mentioned earlier,I had a major computer crash just before we left Australia,which left me without all my notes etc for our trip,so i was relying on the internet to fill in some of the gaps for our itinery.
    Jim from Remote Asia Travel had given (lent??) me a Laos sim card,but didn't know about setting it up for the net.I had a go....but couldn't get it to work.Saw a lot of girls chatting on Facebook or skyping away on their smartphones,even in small towns....
    So I would go into all these shops in various towns with ETL-3G signs hanging out the front,and asked for a sim card.
    "You want sim card"
    "Yes please,with internet."
    "You want internet?"...
    "Er...yes...sim card with internet?
    "No have"
    "Sim card with data??"
    "Oh,you want sim card with data ?"
    "Yes please"
    "No have"
    "Sim card with you have?"
    "3G??" (salesman looking puzzled)
    Grabs salesman by the,drags him outside and point to the ETL-3G sign above his doorway.
    "Oohh....sim card 3G?? he says...

    "Yes please",I sigh,grateful that the message has finally sunk in" Sim card 3G,I want one please!"

    "No have"

    Now repeat this scene about 8 times and you can get a sense of my frustration.So no internet on my smartphone,only in the odd guesthouse in the bigger towns we stayed in.

    Jim from RAT also gave us a GT-R map of Laos,with recommended routes and stopover points marked with a big black marking pen.
    Lent it to Phil overnight in Phonsavan......and,when I got it back the next day,it had no markings on it!
    It was a different map!And an old edition too....
    He remembered leaving it in a cafe,and when he came back it was with a different we were flying blind in a way.

    Right,so here we were,trying to head to Lima 36 airbase,with an old map,and no mobile internet,following a vaguely marked trail.....


    The trail we were following started to climb steeply,then opened up and levelled off,where we found a brand new building,and a new toilet block built there as well.Looked like a new rest stop had been built....but what for?


    The track we were following came into a T intersection at this new rest area point,with the dirt road looking quite new.We had a choice,left or right...or..up the mountain or down the mountain to reach our goal of checking out Lima 36 airbase.
    Just then a 4WD pickup arrived at the rest stop,and a guy got out and started looking at some construction drawings.Guessed he was the builder or something.Tried communicating with him,to find out where we were,and if we were on the right track to our destination.Didn't understand Lima 36,but got excited when I mentioned the track to Vieng Thong,our intended overnight stop.
    He grabbed a nearby stick and started drawing in the dirt..... 5 kilo...turn left....5 kilo...turn right.....and much more.
    "Vieng Thong"...I asked
    "yes...yes"...he replied.
    So we turned left...5 kilos later we turned right...back on the highway had left an hour ago.About 18 kilometres from where we turned off at Phou Koud.
    Guess a farang saying "Vieng Thong" does kinda sound like how a Laotion would say "Vantong"....which I think was where he was sending us.
    At this point I realised it was folly to try to find this track to Lima 36,too many variables,not sure about fuel...starting to get cold,so I was all for giving up this quest......but not Phil.
    Nope he wanted to go back to Phou Koud and try again.
    Sigh,so an hour later when we got back to the same new rest stop,we turned right,UP the mountain this time...and the road got steeper and steeper,with a few hairpins....and started to see bricks lying loosely around these hairpins.
    Came roaring up a particularly steep to bit to find.........
    The end of the road.
    Not only that,there were a few 4WD's there...a tent,and a few confused looking Lao people.
    Dragged my map out,asked where the heck we were....
    So they grabbed a stick,started drawing in the dirt.First one had a go...then another joined in....then the one lady there grabbed a rock and started drawing her version.....



    The view up there was great though.....


    There was a homemade ladder leaning up against the side of the hill.....and Phil asked what job the lady did there,as her English wasn't too bad.
    "She carry brick....up there"...said one well dressed chap.....pointing to the ladder.


    "What you use brick for"?,I asked.

    "Build rocket!!" everyone shouted,sounding excited.

    "Rocket?",I politely enquired...
    "Yes!!...rocket!!" they replied.
    "Build Rocket! Go Vientiane!!"

    " build rocket...go to Vientiane?"

    "YES!!" they enthusiastically shouted
    "Go see Vientiane!!"

    Sigh.....getting maps drawn in the dirt by a bunch of Laos loonies definately WASN'T on my holiday plans!
    Beating a hasty retreat back down the mountain,before they had ideas of making me squeal like a pig,I had a sudden brain flash.

    Perhaps they were trying to say LOcket...not ROcket...and by LOcket,perhaps they meant Lookout....I many rockets are built with bricks these days?
    So keep an eye out for a new lookout off route 7,near Nong a rocket.

    It was getting late in the afternoon,so we headed for Phou Khoun,but not before stopping for a tasty feast!



    Now,I admit to eating one portion of the rat,started off ok but got more and more chewy....managed to swallow it down but no more for me!
    Phil cleaned it up...sucking on the bones and such.....

    The temperature was dropping rapidly,and we didn't have the best bike riding gear on.The zipper on Phil's jacket was broken,so it was a battle to get there before dark,but keep the speed down a bit to avoid the wind chill factor.

    Phil improvised as best he could at one fuel stop....


    It was very cold! I used to live in Canberra,so know all about riding in freezing temps,and this wasn't far behind freezing temperature!

    Finally pulled into Phou Khoun,and found a guesthouse with hot water...60,000 kip each.



    We slept that night in our bike gear....except the jacket and helmet (though it wouldn't have been the first time I had done that)
    Noisy Karaoke most of the night......then the power went off in the town...still off the next morning,including the gas station!!
    managed to find a hand pump one though....
    The view from my bedroom window was nice.....


    So there you have promised,you had us being lost...eating rat....and a rocket!!

    Next installment....hmm....great roads...cold weather...

    Last installment:
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  3. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    OMG how absolutely EPIC!!! [​IMG]

    That's the real definition of adventure, eh? Getting lost with no GPS, no data, a useless smartphone and an out of date map! :thumbup:

    Maps drawn in the dirt, rockets to Vientiane, rat for lunch and a windbreaker made out of a rice sack! I bet this is one ride you won't soon forget!!! :clap:
  4. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

    Nothing like making it up as we go along!

    It was that cold on the ride to Phou Khoun that I reckon my Camelback saved my life!
    I put it on under my jacket....backwards....
    Kept my chest area nice and warm...and the next day slung my camera bag to the front of me....excellent windbreaker!
    And my smartphone is even more useless now.
    Left it on the plane.....
  5. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Sounds like you guys had a lot of fun and some great stories to share after.

    Lets catch up next time you swing through Bangkok.

    Keep it coming.

  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Hot water, but how was the water pressure - more than just a light spray I hope, because PK does get bloody cold as you stated.
  7. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

    Pressure wasn't too bad,took a few tries to get the heater to kick in though.
    Nearly gave up and joined Phil in his shower......but more about that scenario in the Golden Triangle Trip report....
  8. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Great report Poompui, very entertaining.

    Tackling the BBQ rat is gutsy, and something I wouldn't try no matter how hungry I was.

    Love the wind break,...that's true ozzie ingenuity.

    Thanks for sharing your Adventure, very enjoyable read.


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