Long Cheng (tieng) Ls 20a

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by brian_bkk, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    G'day All,

    Good mate of mine for 8 years living and working in Thailand called me two days ago..

    He had just been standing on the runway at Long Chieng.

    Tim recounted the visit and what he saw in the restricted zone.

    My mate and I have been on a couple of bike trips to Laos and talked about the war and Long Chieng and how all of us would love to get there..
    Well he did it.. This opportunity came up due to work taking him up to Laos.

    Really interesting chatting with him hearing what was experienced up there.

    Lets just say it is still a little hot up there and I am not talking about the weather.

    They had to get all sorts of passes and approvals..

    Warned:-
    If you get in here and are not meant to be in here.. You will be arrested, go to jail and be deported.

    Hope you enjoy these pictures (Taken the begining of this week).

    On the runway
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    Had to remove someone from this picture.. The runway looks a bit like crazy paving on the right.
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    Will be meeting on the weekend for beers and to hear the stories as well as get the rest of the other 50 pictures inside the restricted area.

    More pictures to come and will try my best to relay the background.

    Links below to the history of the Secret War

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Tieng

    http://www.preservingourhistory.com

    Cheers
    Brian
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Wow, great photos from a legendary location.
    You're mate is a lucky guy alright & so are we getting these pics.
    Thanks a zillion - I'm sure there is going to be a good story coming after this weekend's meet up - bring it on.
     
  4. Oddvar

    Oddvar Ol'Timer

    Thanks a lot for the pics. I just finished reading the book about the "Ravens" by Christopher Robbins. Seeing these pictures from the most "secret place on earth" as the place was named during the war make the book come more alive.
     
  5. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Top Stuff, Congratulations to them for getting there! That would definitely be a Place I would Love to Visit after Reading "The Ravens" and "Air America" and knowing a bit of the History of the Place! The Guy who Found and started Long Chieng just Died Recently in Chiang Mai and was Buried in the Foreigners Cemetery near the Gymkhana Club. Rhodie went to His Funeral so could probably Enlighten Us on the Details but Truely Fascinating Story. What an Incredible Part of the World We live in so Rich with History!!! Well Done Guys and thanks for Sharing it with Us Brian!
     
  6. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Ditto to all the above.
    Look forward to the next installment.
     
  7. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Heading out of Long Chieng to Phonsavan.

    Looking back at the two hills and the road coming out of Long Chieng.

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    More to come
     
  8. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    Brilliant. Getting into the adventurers Holy Grail of Laos would indeed be a truly spectacular highlight. Look forward to the follow up.
     
  9. phuketrichard

    phuketrichard Ol'Timer

    i was at the plain of jars site 3 last month and asked some de-miners about going there, (long Tieng) an they told me can do, an would take about 4-5 hours but that my honda civic wouldn't make it but a 4wd truck (or a strong motorcycle) like they had would.
     
  10. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    I don't doubt that you were told that.. But from what my friend told me last night when we met. It is not correct, for foreigners at least.

    They had to get all sorts of permits and approvals.. He didn't even know where they were going.
    Only our discussion on trips about Long Chieng and he saw the runway etc.. asked the minders if it was Long Chieng.
    They said yes.. On the way in he didn't see any sign.. But there is a previous post on this forum from 2011 that has the sign
    May be he missed it on the way in.

    They didn't just go to Long Chieng but covered a lot of other territory in there.

    Army check points every where even some places they were not allowed to pass the other checkpoints with their minders
    They had to get out the vehicles and show the paper work and be seen by the high up at the check point.

    Shake hands and proceed.

    If you are Lao believe it is easier.. but no go for foreigners.
    To be honest.. What he told me in some of the more remote places in there.. You wouldn't want to be on your own.
    You will be arrested if you try to go in there with out the paper work and the next check point is not far away

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  11. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    G'day All,

    Not meaning to drag out the pictures.

    The iconic pictures with the air strip, Long Chieng and looking back to Long Chieng on the way to Phonsavan have been shown.

    The rest of the pictures are the ride to the restricted area and inside..

    Having a bit of a discussion with my mate.. The others on this trip didn't sign up to have their faces all over the internet.
    So we agreed that any pictures with faces and other identifying features should be blurred out.. Sure everyone understands..

    All the pictures vetted by the minders will be shown. The few sneaky non approved pictures will not be posted.

    Will do my best to get the order right.

    One last note..
    My mates SD Card began to die.. so some pictures are not good quality.. Took two days to get all the pictures off the SD card.
    Me sitting here with fingers crossed that all was not lost.. :)

    Entering the restricted area. The protectors were the best of the best in Lao. Specialised in Jungle warfare...
    Note how they are positioned and looking in all different positions. Never flat footed.

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    Ah yes.. Can't go ANYWHERE with out Beer Lao.
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    Stopped for a "Where the farkarewe moment" looking at the map on the bonnet of the Toyota.

    The Hmong woman advised the minders that the men were in the hills and they should move on.
    Everyone got back in the vehicles and moved on.

    One thing.. When going through these villages.. No males. When outsiders come in, they head for the bush.
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    Inside the restricted area with all the passes and permits.. But can't go down the road to the right.
    Many more like this where they were informed no entry. No reason given and accepted.

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    More to come
     
  12. Oddvar

    Oddvar Ol'Timer

    According to the book about the Ravens, Long Tiang was defined as the most secret place on earth.
    A bit strange that the place was marked on the maps made by the US at that time. Or where these maps classified at that time?
    It would be very interesting to be able to ride up there one day...

    A section of the map from 1965.
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    And a foot note!
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    The full map here.
    http://www.explo-laos.com/Lao maps/Maps 1:50000/Ban Namcha.jpg
     
  13. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    I guess you are right there..
    Classified at the time. Military map
     
  14. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    A few more snaps.

    Usual security when the vehicles stopped. (Again, never flat footed)

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    The bridges are from the US time.. Holding up well over time..
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    The most secret knee on earth ;-)
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    Long Chieng airstrip.
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    They also had their own security advisors on the trip.. Former elite from western army now in to private security.

    More to come
     
  15. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Last round of pictures to be posted on GTR.

    Checking out routes.
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    This track was washed out
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    Time to lug and pull rocks and rebuild the path so the 4WD's can pass.
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    After they went through all that effort and over the next hill.. To be confronted with a swamp that was impassable.
    Turn around and go back
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    Hope you all enjoyed the peak inside Long Chieng and surrounding area.
    Great to get these pictures and pleased that GT-Rider can share them :)

    Some really fascinating stories and other pictures that will have to wait for the next GT-Rider dinner or Beers with the Bangkok Weekend Warriors.

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  16. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Absolutely fantastic to get a current view of that famous airstrip Brian. Now i can appreciate better what those Ravens and other pilots face when taking off from that air strip. Just imagine heavy mist hanging thick and low coupled with bad weather, badly carburetted and ill maintained aircraft and those hills smack at the end of the runway ... wtf!
     
  17. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Great photos Brian, of this very interesting part of Laos.

    I've tried twice to ride to the air strip, once from the north and once from the south.
    Both times I was told to turn around and go back, a long way short of the strip.

    Thanks for putting up the photos.

    Moto-Rex
     
  18. phuketrichard

    phuketrichard Ol'Timer

    Fantastic trip, truly an accomplishment to make it thru.
     
  19. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

  20. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

  21. fm2002

    fm2002 Ol'Timer

    Welcome to the Long Cheng club. Still pretty exclusive. My gf and I did it without permission and it did get a bit dicey. Not to hijack, but if interested you can read my post here w/ pics.

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/35293-Just-back-from-Long-Cheng-)))))))?highlight=Long+Cheng

    I also read the book review in BP and have contacted the author. I want a hard copy of the book to add to my collection of books on the area. Only kindle version available at Amazon.
     
  22. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Long Chieng Tim on another mission.

    Savannakhet to Sepon.

    What a ripper having this all to yourself..

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    The smoke was so bad a couple of weeks back they had to pull up in the jungle and wait for it to clear a bit before reaching the destination.

    More to come...
     
  23. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    A few years ago Joe and I tried to go to Long Chieng from the back way going south from
    Phonsavan. Road was a bit rough but doable on Africa Twins. Here is a view from the
    ridge behind the two mounds that are at the end of the runway of Lima 20.

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    We then rode down from the ridge to the building at the lower right of the screen, which
    is just behind the mounds. Astonished Lao military guys came out, grilled us for a while,
    refused our money for an escort across the base, and then told us we had to go back
    the same way......
     
  24. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Nice one Robert.. Must have made your day to get in and be allowed back out :)
    Shame your pic has gone above.

    I have been sitting on these Pics from Timbo for a month now.. As it is a holiday today.
    Thought better get on with it.

    Tim doesn't use GPS or have a smart phone.. Bit of an old fashioned Aussie from the outback..
    So his route was something like this as he recalls

    In to Phou Bia from the south, then North West out towards the Long Chieng track - well below the famous town and air strip.
    Then south and then west to Baan Houy Xai.

    You can see how the dam has filled up and Baan Houy Xai is now water front property.

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    As they didn't go through Long Chieng.. No iconic pic this time standing on the runway.

    Sure most of us would give our eye teeth for this photo opportunity.
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    You will also notice. Unlike last time where they went bush (off the track) the security is a lot more relaxed.

    Last time.
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    To get to Baan Houy Xai.. They put the 4WD's on the barge.. (Takes around 5 or 6 hours)
    You can see this in the back ground and the relaxed security..

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    Then they take the speed boat.(1 hr plus)

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    At Baan Houy Xai

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    Accommodation

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    This area is still restricted.. Tim didn't believe there was any problem west of the mine at Houy Xai.
    They left the mine and went west coming out south of Vang Vieng.

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  25. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Happy New Year... GTR on the runway at Long Chieng, once the world's busiest airport in the most secret place on earth.

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    More to come.

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  26. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    What a great few days that have passed as well as a great start to the new year.

    Days that will remain for a life time. What greater memories to share than with a good mate Oddvar..

    The idea to try and get to Long Chieng ( not having passes or permission) was born a long time ago.

    Discussing this desire to visit Long Chieng with a Lao friend in VTE last trip.
    (He doesn't do freelance, loyal to his company so please don't ask.)

    Decided he wants to see what all the fascination is about with this place and said. I will take you..

    Me:- You little ripper.

    A few days before crossing the friendship bridge

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    Chatting with Oddvar.. Told him my plan and may be 50 50 we succeed..

    Oddvar:- I'm in..

    We all meet up in VTE and have beers by the majestic Mekong

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    After copious amounts of Beer Lao.. We decide to challenge our strategic skills..

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    The reccy will be in a 4 WD. If successful we shall return on bikes :)

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    We pass the Phu Bia mine site

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    There is a small village near the mine.. It is Hmong New Year..
    Great timing.

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    We tried to initially take the long Chiang Track but blocked by land slides. .

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    Some amazing roads especially as you get closer to Long Chieng.. 4WD or dirt / adventure bikes only..
    There is a new way that routes you via one of the mine sites..

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    more to come............
     

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