Riding the Ho Chi Minh Trail, North East out of Vilabury Laos.

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Moto-Rex, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    A great motorcycle ride on the Ho Chi Minh trail, that runs North East out of Villabury Laos, to the Vietnamese border. I think it was probably one of the most interesting rides I’ve done in Laos.

    The Vietnamese border is around 70kms from Vilabury, and the track is 99% dirt, with a lot rocky sections, but nothing too difficult, although there is one river crossing that could cause a few problems if the water level was to rise.

    Vilabury is no metropolis, so only a few hundred metres out of town, your riding on a typical Lao jungle hwy.
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    The first of many rocky peaks that followed the track.
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    This is the same track that takes you to Bualapha, but around 14km out of Vilabury, need you turn right.
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    The turn off is at this little village.
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    The track followed this mountain range for most of the ride.
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    There’s a few really steep climbs and descends, which were great to ride.
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    Beautiful views looking east towards Vietnam from one of the peaks.
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    Doesn’t get much better,…Riding a motorbike, on cool sunny day in Laos.
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    There where a few small river crossing, but this was the biggest.
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    The water was so clear….and cold.
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    This lady told me the river was ankle deep, I thought it was best to walk it first.
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    She must have had big ankles. The first 12 metres of the river was fairly deep, but there was a narrow line that was ok. I had to stick just left of the rock maker and all would be ok.
    Once past that it wasn’t all that deep, but the rocks were super slippery.
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    Anyway, no trouble for the magnificent Lao concurring motorcycle made by Kawasaki.

    Quick clip,….out and back.



    Once over the river, the land scape becomes a little baron for while.
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    This is what seems to be the original Ho Chi Minh trail construction, I’ve seen this on a few other trails elsewhere as well. There’s only about 2kms left that is in good condition on this track.
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    Rocky mountain way.
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    About 15 Kilometres from the river I came to small building at the border crossing with Vietnam, with sign that read CUAKHAUHIQUANNONGMA…. I think it translates into “hut full of agitated men with a major problem with KLX riders riding in this area”
    There was a few tense moments when the first 2 guys came out with smoke coming out of there ears, ranting and raving, and pointing to the direction I had just come from. I could of just rode back, but I wanted a photo of the KLX and the border gate, so I tried smiling and playing the dumb tourist while getting off the bike. This made them even more hostile, so I got back on the bike, ready to split in a hurry, when another guy came out and calmed down the two communist aggressors. He spoke a bit of English, so I asked him if I could ride up to the gate and take a photo. He said OK, so the Imperialist aggressor/KLX rider, rode over to the gate, took a snap then got the hell out of there.

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    Funny..this is the second time Ive had border guards go crazy with my presence.
    The first was with BrianBkk, who I assumed was the one that got the karate kicking guard at the Chinese border upset. Maybe he was right, and it was me after all.

    Vietnam is about 2 kilometres up the road, but there’s no getting past this impregnable gate.
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    Time to head back down the rocky trail to Vilabury.
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    I’m no expert on the Vietnamese war, or the Ho Chi Trail, but I do know that this part of the trail, had a massive amount of bombs dropped on it, and today you can see that the villages in this area have found some ingenious users for Bomb shells dropped many years ago.

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    Almost all of the photos were taken from the track while sitting on the bike.
    It would have been good to wonder around the villages and get up close, but I have to admit to feeling a little uneasy. People in this villages would have had family killed by these bombs, so being a photo taking tourist didn’t seem right.

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    I spotted this truck about 50 metres from the road so I stopped to get a photo. Just like at the border two less than friendly guys came out of a hut, and told me go away, and no photos were to be taken. OK I said, I got back on the bike. Then the village chief came over and said “take a photo and leave“
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    Seeing the size of some of the craters made by bombs, I can understand why there not so accommodating towards a foreigner in these parts.

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    I ventured on.
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    The photo doesn’t capture just how thick the jungle is thats growing on these eerie mountains.
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    The Local scrap metal yard.
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    Back to the river again.
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    Really nice riding through this section.
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    After doing a little exploring on the way back, and getting lost for two hours. I made it back in Vilabury. This was the only place in town where I could eat the food.
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    While resting after my big day out on the Ho Chi Minh trail, having a drink and some potato chips, I was joined at my table by these two local hooligans, intent on harassing a tied and worn out KLX rider. Watch out for them if you go to Vilabury.
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    Great day out on the bike.

    Moto-Rex
     
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  3. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Cool report Rex and Great Commentary, Funny as!!!
     
  4. Javawa

    Javawa Guest

    Thanks for posting the report and the pictures. The river crossing is/was called the Laboy Ford which was one of the choke points in the Ho Chi Minh trail. A bit further to the east was the Laboy Alternate Ford which was used when the American bombing raids had made the use of the original Laboy Ford impossible. You can find a map of the area here: http://www.rjsmith.com/Ban-Laboy-Ford.html At that time the river was called the Nam Ta Le but nowadays it is known as the Xe Bangfai river. By the way, this track goes via the Ban Karai pass and links with highway 20 in Vietnam.
     
  5. Lakota

    Lakota Ol'Timer

    Great report Rex ...... was wondering what you was up to ... wasn't sure you made it out of Bangkok :)
     
  6. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Another great ride and report Rex. I found your less than warm welcome a little surprising. Interesting. Also some very good local knowledge from Javawa. Thanks!
     
  7. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the information Javawa, very interesting. Next time Ill try to find the Laboy Alternate Ford.

    Moto-Rex
     
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Hey hey hey, Moto-Rex you little ripper. Riding out there all alone enjoying by yourself. Laos is full of gems & this ride has to be another top one. Brilliant & many thanks or sharing. You're an inspiration for many people on GTR.
     
  9. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Another ripper Moto-Rex.

    Is this the top of your head finding the right line?
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    Looks real remote out there..

    Yes, you do have a way with the China and Vietnam border guards and getting that must have pic at the border gate :)

    Cheers
    Brian
     
  10. Mooter

    Mooter Member

    Excellent. Thank you
     
  11. mat.ward

    mat.ward Ol'Timer

    Always great to read your reports Moto-Rex! You do get to some very interesting places.

    As Javawa has said, this 912 road was a significant section of the HCMT leading to Ban Karai pass, which allowed access to/from Vietnam north of the DMZ. It got hammered by the US. Anyone going there needs to be very careful about UXO, i.e. don't leave the road.

    Here's a map of US bombing along this section (each circle is one bombing sortie - does not include cluster bomb sorties). You can see where the choke points such as the ford took an absolute beating:
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    Mat

    P.S Check out a trip I finished three months ago - Edinburgh to Cape Town via the East of Africa: http://www.matward.com/
     
  12. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Gday Matt.

    Thanks for putting up the above information.

    The snap shot certainly shows the hot spots, and the areas where to “tread lightly”

    PS. Love your Edinburgh to Cape Town videos, looks like an amazing trip.

    Cheers mate.

    Rex
     

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