Just quick note to any other riders out there who are considering a solo sojourn into Laos, but hesitant about the viability, safely, etc. Two months ago I entered Laos with my safety gear, David Unkovitch's new GT rider map, some US dollars and a tremendous drive to "do" northern Laos solo on a motorcycle. I'd expected to stay 15 days. After extending my visa 4 times, riding ALL over seven of the northern provinces, stirring up deep, political discussions about the "secret" war my country waged on this beautiful land, meeting dozens of traveling Farang and scores of lovely, happy Laotian and hilltribe folks, I've returned to Chaing Mai. But I sleep and breathe Laos and the exquisite riding I found there. I always felt safe. Even on the highest, twisting moutain roads where I'd pass rifle-slung soldiers sauntering along. I'd make sure to raise my visor and flash them a smile and a "Sabadee!" The response was ALWAYS the same: tough soldier-man melts into little, excited boy as way-cool bike and wait-a-minute-was-that-a-WOMAN???? whiz by! I felt strong and comfortable. Fortunately, (as all riders know it's not "if" you go down but "when") I kept the bike upright the whole time. Well, except for once when I paid boatmen to lay it down in their longtail for a days trip down the Nam Ou river from Muang Kua to Nong Khiaw. (Paying five more guys to haul my Baja 250 up the steeeeeep river bank when I reached my destination is another great story I can share!) There are a hundred more stories and lots more route and riding information about northern Laos that I'd be happy to share with anyone interested. Feel free to inquire!