Route13 South Vientiane - Don Khong

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Jul 15, 2009.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Continued from
    Loei - Chiang Khan - Nong Khai

    and

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-mo...878-Dad-n-Dave-Go-To-Dan-Sai-Phi-Ta-Khon-2009

    I managed to sneak in across the Friendship Bridge with a special one-off permit.
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    This is a bit better than having to ride 140 kms downstream from Nong Khai to Bun Kan, get on a car ferry to cross the Mekong to Pakxan & then ride back upstream 150 kms to Vientiane.

    After a mere 3 quiet nights in Vientiane it was time to hit the road south on Route 13 to Don Khong + the Mekong Falls at Khone Phapaeng.

    Route 13 South is not the same as Route 13 North & lacks a few corners.
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    Fortunately for me the weather was absolutely glorious & I had a superb run south.

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    Plus you had the Tigo signs to brighten up your journey along the way.
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    A tight corner on R13 South
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    The weather was so good that the road did not even feel boring: the air 'n sky was so fresh, clean & blue + magnificent green fields...I thought life was really good, even on a flat straight road!

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    Indeed it was so good it felt intoxicating & I did not even need a beer!
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    But get intoxicated & crash & you might end up at the Nasaad Regional Hospital
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    Somewhere you would not want to end up in Laos - the local regional hospital
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    For all you guys wanting to ride in Laos - look at the hospital above & think about what standard of treatment & establishment you are going to get = you DON'T want to crash in Laos!

    After a night in Tha Kek where you can get the GT Rider Laos map at
    1. Travel Lodge
    2. Inthira Hotel / Green Discovery
    3. Riveria Hotel

    it was onto Savannakhet.

    In Savan this time round I tried the old Mekong Hotel, but the place is a little too old & run down for my money = no serious recommendation.

    In Savannakhet you can now get the GT Rider Laos map at the LNTA Tourism Office.

    From Savannakhet south the weather was cool overcast & the countryside cool green
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    Next stop after Savannakhet is Pakxe, where the Sedon River runs into the Mekong.
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    In Pakxe it was the Lao Chaleune Hotel
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    good value for money at 90,000 kip a night = 380 baht.

    Pakxe old town view from the Lao Chaleune Hotel
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    In Pakxe, the Mekong Lanexang Boat Restaurant is a popular tourist restaurant on the Mekong
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    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
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  3. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    Blue skies with white puffies make for great pix and good riding.
    Are there any other options in Savan other than the Mekong you would recomend?
    Looking forward to the islands as if the weather held up the pix should be similarly awesome. :D
     
  4. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    In Savan I normally stay in the "Rattanasavanh Hotel" on Makaveha Rd. (GPS Coordinates N16.554260 E104.753372). Price is about 20 USD per night including breakfast. Clean rooms and safe parking (gate and guard).
     
  5. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    Auke
    Appreciate this, as I will be heading that way with the lad next month.
    Cheers
    Rhodie
     
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    In Pakxe you can now get the GT Rider Laos map from
    1. Pakse Hotel
    2. LNTA Tourism Office
    3. Sabai Cafe & Motorcycle Rent
    4. Lankham Hotel & Motorcycle Rent
    5. Delta Coffee
    6. Green Discovery

    From Pakxe it was over the 'Khong to Champasak & Wat Phu
    The ferry crossing is 35 kms from Pakxe & you turn off at Lak 30 from Pakxe.

    It's the luck of the game which ferry you get & use

    The car ferry
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    Or the motorbike ferry
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    AND

    The motorbike ferry is more adventurous & one that all riders should all do at least once.
    The local price for a small bike is 5,000 kip, but with a big bike they like to try & touch you up for more; especially on the return where the thieving Mekong boatman asked for 20,000 kip but I knew the mini buses were paying 25,000 & the Honda Dreams 5,000kip. He got 8,000 kip & was told to shut up.

    Once you're on the other side it's like dropping back in time 15-20 years. Life is so tranquil & easy going.

    Even the roads are not quite the same
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    But the scenery en route to Wat Phu makes up for the --th class rural roads
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    The entrance to the Wat Phu World Heritage site
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    You have to pay an entrance fee - 30,000 kip - when you enter the site, & there's not always someone around to collect your money, as I found out at the temple site. I was asked for my ticket, said I did not have one because there was no one around to collect the money, but I was happy to pay. No I had to walk back 200 metres to my bike, and then ride back another 300 metres to find the ticket seller & pay him / her the money before I could come in. True to form this did not impress the old GT Rider, who promptly pulled out the 30,000 kip & said that if they wanted the money he would pay it then & there, but he was not going to retrace his steps to track down the missing ticket seller. Take it or leave it, "mate." You want money provide a service where someone is there to collect it; I'm not going to hunt them down to give you money. He got on his walkie talkie & jabbered away for a couple of minutes, & then said Bor Pen Nyang pay now. Yes the right decision too I thought.

    The Wat Phu Museum & Archaelogical Site has been built with funds from the Japanese govt & a plaque proudly announces this at the entrance.
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    The good old Aussies did not want to miss out
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    & so provided the door mat.
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    but I think we need to do a bit better than this.

    My impressions of Wat Phu were not so great this time, maybe because of the admission cultural misunderstanding, but with a lot of the site fenced off & so no access, plus a lack of any English language signs / explanation you are left wondering what it is all about. I think they can & should do better than this.

    For some reason I only got shitty photos here too - apologies. (Rhodie / Ally here's your queue. :) )

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    Regardless Wat Phu is still a magnificent site & worthy of a visit at least once or twice.

    Wat Phu and its surroundings were certified as a national heritage site in 1993. Since then Wat Phu has been registered by UNESCO on the 14th of December, 2001.

    Check out

    http://www.watphu.com/

    and
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Phu

    for more info on Wat Phu
     
  7. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    Wat Phou is important if you are interested in Khmer kingdom of Angkor as it predates Angkor.
    The site is especially popular with Thai tourists and the mountain above is worshiped as a lingham...

    Sadly it was so wet and miserable the day we visited that we just concentrated on video...
    But here's a video of the day Richard & I visited a few years ago.



    I would strongly advise taking the ferry as the road west of the Mekong is slippery as snot in the wet season
    and 2-up on a fully laden beamer was a handful.

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    Also taking the ferry adds a certain "russian roulette" quality to the trip... :D
    see vid above
    :shock:
     
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    In Champasak I lucked out with full moon (I was far away from Chiang Mai?) & saw the locals conducting their Boun Khao Phansa / Tak Bat ceremonies for the start of Buddhist Lent.

    Celebrating in the beginning of the Buddhist lent. Unusually occurs in July. Monks must stay in the Temple for 3 Months. Boun Khao Pansa / Tal Bat mixes different religious and animist practices: candle processions are organized, mantras are chanted in the temples, and incense is burnt in houses.


    Champasak is a small beautiful town beside the Mekong with 8 temples in a short 7 kms distance = approximately 1 temple every kilometre.
    The villagers are still very traditional & devout believers in the religion & festival. Every household sends representatives to the local temple to make merit.

    And in the morning light (7AM Franz) the temples were damn pretty.

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    Another piece of luck I had in Champasak was staying at the Inthira Hotel
    http://www.inthirahotel.com/

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    Well worth checking out & spending a night at if you're in Champasak & visiting Wat Phu.

    Another beautiful new spot I found in Champsak was the Champasak Spa

    http://www.champasak-spa.com/

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  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    After Champasak it was a quick blast down to take a quick look at the Mekong falls, Khone Phapaeng while they are still there

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    If you think the Mekong falls are spectacular & they are, then you should be worried about the Mekong dams & the proposed dam for the nearby Don Sahong channel.

    Look here
    http://www.savethemekong.org/issue_detail.php?sid=21

    http://www.worldfishcenter.org/resource ... -final.pdf

    http://www.internationalrivers.org/en/node/2101

    for more info.

    Scary stuff eh, & I recommend go take a look at the Khone Phapaeng Falls & the 4000 Islands while they are still there!

    Back upstream it was over to Don Khong, the biggest island of the 4000 Islands.
    The weather was still absolutely glorious

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    Don Khong "the main street" in Muang Khong
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    The Souksan Guesthouse & Hotel was my place of stay
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    Pon's Guesthouse & Restaurant was my place of food 'n beverage by the 'Khong.

    The staff
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    attempting to lead me on (ok I was easy)

    The food
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    a superb spicy fish larb.

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    some tasty beef by the stick (& by the score I ended up sponsoring)

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    The happy clan
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    A future goddess
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    The drink
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    an icy cold Beer Lao

    Full moon rise over the 'Khong
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    Relaxing by the 'Khong
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    A change in the weather
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    A favourable view
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    The girls at Pon's Restaurant indeed attempted to lead the old GT Rider astray. They cracked the first beer at 10AM & challenged lung to a drink or two. They could drink all day - by the carton - they claimed (as long as I was paying), so the race was on. By 12.30PM they'd fallen asleep on the job in the restaurant & only 11 bottles were down. Not such a startling performance I thought. But if you're only 42 & 53 kgs you don't stand much chance of out drinking a seasoned lung at 99kgs.

    So at 4PM, fearing a part 2 challenge I packed up & headed home. Exited Don Khong on the ferry made it Vang Tao / Chong Mek & the border by 5.55PM & crossed back into Thailand uneventfully & easily.

    I hit Ubon at 7.30PM just in time for the Wax Candle Festival & absolute traffic mayhem. With not much chance of a decent hotel room; I decided to move on & had a complicated time navigating my way through the traffic jams & streets with few English language signs. :roll:
    Eventually I ended up on the right road - Route 23 to Yasothon.
    It was a beautiful clear full moon night & I kept going - all the way to Roi Et, where I called it a night at 10.15PM.

    But Don Khong & the 4000 Islands I'll be back - in early October for an extended stay - & first stop will be Don Khong.
    Living in Chiang Mai, one of the problems of Don Khong & the 4000 Islands is that up till now it is so far away it has always been at the end of the journey with time running out & the turning point for home.

    But next trip the deep south of Laos will be starting point.

    Don Khong here we come. Who's up for a ride? :)
     
  10. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

    David, you pass my house while you where here,,, why you did not tell me, you could easilly bunk in here and i have always freezing bottle of vodka in the frost box :wink:
     
  11. Pikey

    Pikey Ol'Timer

    David,

    I'll prob be up for it depending on the timing as I need it to coincide with school holidays. I already have a loose plan to chuck the DRz on the back of the truck and drive with the missus & step-nipper to Sisaket, dump them off and go to visit Angkor. However, it sounds like your trip would be fun and possibly imperative given the possibility of a f*cking dam screwing things up. :evil:

    BTW, yes you should have stayed at Marco's - a great host but a night with him means no riding 'til at least lunchtime the next day due to a monster sized hangover! ;-)

    Cheers,

    Pikey.
     
  12. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

    Pikey,, I have no idea what you mean :wink: where did you got monster Hangovers? maybe you drank expired beer?
    just a one bottle of vodka per night dont give any hangovers,,, it give clear visibility and clear mind :D
     
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Marco
    Yes apologies, but in my rush I mistakenly thought you that you were on the Ubon - Si Saket road. I actually discussed this with John Gooding before leaving & thought about looking you up, if I stayed in Ubon on the way through. But as it was I hit town at festival time with total traffic mayhem, a bit of a contrast to Don Khong earlier in the day; so all I wanted to do was get away & keep going. For awhile I thought I might even reach Khon Kaen, but decided not to push my luck.
    So next time - October - I will look you up. Freezing Vodka sounds alright to too!
     
  14. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

    David

    No worries, im 39Km from Ubon to Yaso direction HW23
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    our pharmacy is on right had side (200Met) when heading from Khueng Nai Traffic lights towards to Yaso
     
  15. Craypot

    Craypot Ol'Timer

    I've visited Wat Phu a couple of times and can only hope the aid industry provide a few rubbish bins to go with the door mat. The place seems to be half rubbish tip and half toilet most of the time. Its an impressive place that needs someone who can manage it appropriately.
     
  16. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Bump # 2 for Jurgen. :wink:
     
  17. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    I am OK ... maybe late? So will go alone :(
     
  18. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    A Champasak bump for Ron Webb.
     
  19. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The Sahong Dam.....

     

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