Nakhon Sawan-Vientiane

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Madyakka, May 10, 2008.

  1. Madyakka

    Madyakka Member

    I awoke to a persistant alarm clock that almost met its demise,I looked at my watch and remembered why I was getting up at this godforsaken time.
    The plan is to ride from Nakhon Sawan to Khon kaen and get a visa from the Lao consolate,then to Nong Khai and depending on the time or more importantly the need for a cold beer perhaps Bueng Kan, so I had a quick coffee and hit the road.
    The sun was slowly rising as I turned left onto the 225 towards Nong Bua,
    local monks had started their alms rounds and a few farmers were heading to their rice paddies for the day but other than that I had the road to myself.The road is pretty good but a small stretch between Chum Saeng and Nong Bua has some pretty severe undulations that could catch you out if you were doing a good clip,as prior to this the road is pretty good.I turned left onto the 21 headed for Lom Sak,the road was good until just past Phetchabun where there was major roadworks all the way to Lom Sak which made for slow going.
    The 21 before Phetchabun.

    At Lom Sak I turned right onto the 12 through the Nam Nao national park towards Khon Kaen.This was a nice change of scenery and an enjoyable ride with a few tight bends thrown in to keep you on your toes.I would liked to have spent more time looking around this area so I will ride this route again when I have more time to spare.

    Approx 50km before Khon Kaen I ran into more roadworks which slowed the pace again.I arrived at the Lao consolate just after 12.30 and they were closed for lunch until 1pm so I waited outside and relaxed for half an hour.At 1pm the doors opened and 10 minutes later I was out the door visa in hand.

    The Lao consolate Khon Kaen.

    I had some lunch and headed up highway 2 to Nong Khai which was not my prefered route but as Pakxan does not issue visas on arrival I had to go Via Khon Kaen.I arrived at Nong Kai just gone 4pm and found my way to the riverfront just past the indochina market,the first guesthouse that I
    stopped at had a vacancy, room with a fan B200, the rooms with a/c were fully booked,all I was thinking of was a cold beer and a good meal at this point so B200 it was.I wasn't expecting much but the rooms were clean and comfortable with a fridge outside full of soft drinks and bottled water with an Honesty box next to it.
    Nong Khai riverside.

    I had a few beers at a bar close by where a group of older gents, obviously locals were complaning about their Thai wifes, at the next table their wifes were complaning about them in Thai.Now my Thais reasonable and I could get the jist of the conversation but Im not sure if their husbands had an inkling or not, either way it gave me a giggle.
    I went for a walk to find something to eat and came accross the Apple bar which is just back from the river,its owned by an Austrian guy and I have to say the food was very good and inexpensive,I had a few beers and called it a night as it had been a long day.

    The next morning I didnt leave until after 9 and felt a tad rough which had me trying to remember how many beers I actualy had was it 6??? or was it 6 in the first bar? mmmmmmm?I turned onto the 212 and headed for Bueng Kan thinking about what the day would have in store for me,with all going well I would be in Vientiane some time today.50kms outside Nong Khai it started raining heavily,I took shelter under a tree and hoped it wouldn't last.

    I waited for a While but It didn't look like it was clearing so I decided to press on,10 minutes down the road and soaked to the skin it stopped raining and the sun came out.Arrived at Bueng Kan stopped for a late breakfast and asked directions to the border post.
    As you come into town you come to a small roundabout go straight through, follow the road towards the river and one road back from the river turn left,the boundry post is about 4k up the road.

    The paperwork seemed complicated with numerous copies of everything to be made but the staff there fill in all the forms, all you have to do is
    be patient and sign everything they ask you to.Initially I was told the boat would leave at 12 noon,then it was 1pm, it left at 2.20,I had not long received my documents back with the thumbs up.

    Just before Pakxan.That cloud does not look good!


    Awe F@%K!!

    As soon as the boat docked the heavens opened up, thunder,lightning and torrential rain,from landing at Pakxan to getting to the customs house 200m up the hill I was soaked to the skin again, but I was still In a good mood all things considered.The pleasant looking female customs officer didn't look to happy to see me but I got the impression that was the way she always looked.Checking my documents she said I could go but not my bike as it had not been stamped out of Thailand. :roll:
    I was directed to some small boats that I could hire to take me to get my book stamped.
    I made my way down towards the boats while it was still pissing down,I asked about going accross to get my book stamped he said B500 which I was ok with giving the situation,I said you wait for me and bring me back ok? Oh! ok, B1000,I could not negotiate,they had me and they knew it!Crossed back over to the otherside but not to where my paperwork was processed but to the smaller custom house down the river,I argued that we have to go to the other one but the old guy shook his head and smiled.At the otherside we went up the steep steps to the small customs booth where the customs officer looked at me,looked at the old guy who probably gave him a wink and stamped my book no questions asked.Back down the stairs and into the boat which is now filling up with people paying a pittance of what I had paid.On the way back I couldn't help laughing outloud and shaking my head to the otherside with the passengers staring at the mad farang.
    Once in customs for the second time everything went smoothly and I was able to go after 40 minutes of paperwork.Outside the rain had eased but was still constant,it was 4.45 and I was thinking of staying in Pakxan for the night but I had hoped to put my visa application in the next morning and if I didn't, I would lose a day from my already tight schedule so I decided to go for it and hope the weather is kind.500ms from the customs house I turn left onto route 13 and head for Vientiane,1km up the road the bike dies,f@%K! what now?I get it started and I give it heaps until the first small village I come to I slow down,I am waiting for the bike to die again as it has been one of those days, but it doesn't and gets me to Vientiane at 6.45pm.I stop at a small soi just off the Mekong and check into the first guesthouse I come to,the RD guesthouse was B560 per night clean and comfortable,a/c,HBO,refridgerator.After a shower I have a meal at the mexican restaurant at the corner which was good and afterwards I went to Bor Pen Yang for a few beers which is pumping,everyone is well gone and after escaping some of the bar ladies constant attentions I join a group of Canadians to sit down and have a few beers and tell a yarn or two for the rest of the night.

    I would liked to have taken pics of the ride from Pakxan-Vientiane but the rain was behind me and the camera was in the backpack where it was dry.The small glimse of Lao I did see made me want to come back and tour at my leisure,this is my second time in Lao and I love the place,I don't know exactly why as yet, so I guess I'll have to go back and find out,





    safe riding

    Madyakka :wink:
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  3. Dougal

    Dougal Ol'Timer

    Great report Madyakka. And really good info as well.

    Ride safe and have fun.
  4. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Madyakka, great report & pictures, that's what biking is all about, may it rain may it shine, we don't care, anyway with the current high temperatures, sometimes we are greatful for a short downpour, aren't we. Keep on the good posting ! Cheers, Franz
  5. burnjr

    burnjr Ol'Timer

    nice ride report bro :D
  6. Madyakka

    Madyakka Member

    Thanks for the positive comments guys,this was my longest ride to date
    and I have to say looking back, the rain and the problems with my book being stamped made it all the more interesting.It was a little tense at the time but it was my first border crossing and next time should any problems arise I will be more relaxed.
    I am already looking at the map as to where I should ride next,I think it will be towards Mae Sot which isn't too far from here but from previous posts looks a hell of a ride.
    Any trips I take will be posted here big or small as I have gained substantial info from this website and David himself, so I intend to contribute what I can along the way.

    Ride safe

  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks & congratulations on your trip & report.
    The first one's always a bit of hard yakka (not easy), but you'll be away now with that one under your belt.

    It was amusing to read about your border woes & then the bike breaking down. I too have had days / trips like that where nothing seems to want to go right. When this happens it is best just to grin & bear it, acknowledging that these little ordeals are meant to test us out. You can't always have it your own way, & it's best to just go with the flow & have a chuckle about it all at he end of the day.

    I agree on the Customs staff in Bun Kan, wonderful friendly people. (Immig in BK have been different though IMHO.) On my very first run through there, Customs gave me free coffee, plus chocolate brownies from their own fridge!
    You should try the gals at Customs in Chiang Khong & see if there are anymore friendly - I think they are. With the right attitude I feel that most of the border officials are nice people (but there are exceptions). However, smile, be polite & talk nicely with them & generally they are ok.

    I'm pleased that you think GT Rider has helped inspire you get out, ride & tour this region, as it truly is fantastic motorcycle touring country.

    Thanks for the contribution.

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