The route approx 1100 Km's door to door, heading from Houay Xai to Muang Sing. Muang Sing to Nalae, Nalae to Long and then heading back to Houay Xai. Day One Houay Xai to Long (revised) After a good start getting over the river by small boat rather than waiting for the ferry to load (the ramp was surprisingly empty) customs and motorcycle check in was done in record time, only to get stuck behind two groups of around 50 tourists at immigration arrivals. Three hours later i was finally on my way with baguette to go at 12 noon. The trail along the Mekong is interesting starting off with wide section cleared after laying power lines, progressing to deep rutted sections and plenty of river crossings, all in all a good trail. Construction blocking the way for an hour. Friendly buffalo Two trucks jammed together on this narrow section. Typical hillside village along the route. Iron bridge and views. It was coming obvious after all the days earlier delays i would not reach my intend lay up point of Muang Sing and stopped the night in Long at the Siseng GH @ 50k Kip a night. Clean and quiet rooms. Day Two Long to Nalae via Muang Sing After a few beers and noodles in Long the night before it was an early start to try and pick up the pace having missed my scheduled overnight stop and head to Nalae. As i packed my bike i marvelled how long it took the guesthouse owners daughter to prepare herself for the school day ! A small Wat outside Long. Bananas, melons and suchlike appear to be the main crop in this area. IMG]http://i1276.photobucket.com/albums/y465/bsacbob/Laos Muang Sing loop March day one 2013/Laos Muang Sing loop day two 2013/P1000775_zpsa8471758.jpg[/IMG] A couple of interesting faces along the way. A roadside **** fight got many of the locals attention. Having reached Muang Sing i had some breakfast and had a short ride to the Chinese border near Namdet Somboun, it was still early so i decided to push on to Nalae to get back on track. Cute hello/goodbye sign south of Muang Sing. Warning signs that i would later see being ignored. The road down from Muang Sing is a nice twisty sealed surface and i stopped at Luang Namtha for lunch before the trail to Nalae just off route 3, expecting to be there mid afternoon. The main thing you notice about this trail is the majestic Namtha river that follows all the way to Nalae. About 60 km's from Nalae i came to an abrupt stop as the track was cleared after a landslide and there i would sit for the next 3 1/2 hours accompanied by an ever increasing group of locals. It was hotter than hell and no place to shade from the sun, fortunately one of the trucks in the queue had dished out free melons to help with hydration. Back underway again at 5.30 and hoped i could reach town before nightfall. Group of young spear fishermen. The track although wide was heavily rutted and was more of a roller coaster ride and was pleased this was the dry season. I arrived in Nalae in almost darkness, the first thing that became apparent was that accommodation was going to be a big problem. Every GH i called at was full or so they said (i would later find out that the Chinese block book the rooms and although rooms are empty they are paid up) i ride around for what felt like an eternity and cursed myself for not bringing my bloody hammock on the trip. I had almost given up when in the complete darkness i was flagged down by the young owner of a GH that had already told me was full, he offered a place sleeping on the floor of his house free of charge and snapped at the chance. The rest of the night was one of the most enjoyable i have ever spent in Laos having dinner with his family and drinking copious amounts of beer Laos in the company of his friends, one of whom was amusingly called Mr Pang !! It had been a long and eventful day and i slept like a log on that floor amongst his family. Day Three Nalae to Long Woke early and had a walk around the village, it was apparently the weekly cleanup day when the litter in collected from around the village. My host taking the bike for a spin. Breakfast provided by my host. Contact info, apparently they don't take in Chinese so it's the only place you are likely to find. On the road at 8am looks like this is going to be a great trail although keeping out of the ruts was my main objective. Clouds still hanging over the mountains. Lot's of fires on this trail many just being started by locals as i passed. This trail was just great, lot's of pretty steep downhills and a few easy water crossings. More young spear fishermen. This guy was really proud of his machine. Slight hold up ! Beautiful trail and not another soul to be seen. Waiting to be burnt. What i guess to be a cattle trough of some kind in progress. Last stream crossing. The final stretch to Long is pretty rocky and dusty, i hadn't seen a vehicle all day and only a few motorcycles but as i rounded a tight right hander i was greeted by a white Landrover pickup completely on the wrong side of track. I had only one place to go, since i didn't want to be wearing the Landy as headgear and threw myself and bike into the bamboo and ended up in a pile with the bike on top of me, the driver stopped and with the help of his passengers managed to extract me and the bike from our resting place. After lots of hand shakes and polite bowing i assured them i was OK and apart from some slightly twisted forks that were sorted later by a bike shop in Long with the aid of a plank of wood all was well with the world. Arrived in Long at 4pm for beer and noodles and stayed at the same GH. Day Four Long to Houay Xai. After another good nights sleep at the Siseng GH i was up and around at 7AM, packing my bike it was like deja vu, that damn girl was back in the mirror again !! Skipped breakfast and pressed on covering some of the same route i had done on day one but in the opposite direction (isn't it funny how tracks look completely different when riden both ways). Once away from all the bull dust at Long it was onto firmer ground. Stopped for a while to watch some of the long boats navigate this treacherous section. although some clearly had not. A few muddy bits but no problem. Stopped at the iron bridge to take some more pictures of this amazing river section. Stupa along the route. Beautiful scenery although the haze was getting thicker. Some ladies practicing just out of Houay Xai. These guy's are amazing, everything but the kitchen sink !!! Arrived in Houay Xai at bang on 12 noon….. Breezed through immigration in seconds and grabbed a couple of baguettes and prepared for the normal three hour wait at the ferry point, whilst waiting for the customs to open after lunch i talked to the nice guy / girl on the scooter asking if any trucks would be heading in soon because it looked like it was going to be a long wait, i had only one truck in front of me. To my amazement when the Thai ferry came in i was called up to the front and told to get on board, asking one of the crew where they wanted me to park up he just smiled. Result i was off. A great four days riding, as always great people and memories to last a lifetime. Big thanks to Pounce and Alex for the route info, beers next time OK….