The Muppets on a sojourn for a month in Laos.

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by BignTall, Feb 15, 2008.

  1. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    This was supposed to get written a few months ago for you peeps. For better or worse I found myself on my bike far too much wandering around Southeast Asia to sit down and mate my fingers to the keyboard. Our fearless leader even greased the wheels by selflessly posting my Laos photos to my Smugmug account after I lost my internet connection (thank you David). So at long last the post continues.

    This Trip was in July so if our weather issues and road conditions confound you, you now know why.

    Riders: BignTall (justin) Hondahonkey(formerly suzukiluke)Luke
    Bikes: Kawasaki KLX 250 and Honda XR250
    Mileage: Who knows since the odomenters and GPS failed on the trip
    Planned route: What was planned and what was ridden were two drastically different paths. Basicallt I was in Laos for a month driving around and visiting loads of fun places. All northern Laos no southern Laos on this trip.
    Day 1. Chiang Mai - Houei Xei
    2. Houei Xei - Muen Sing
    3. Muen Sing- Long- off road to Vieng Phoukha- LamnamTha
    4. LamanmTha- Oudom Xai
    5. Oudomn Xai - off road Nga- off road Pak Ou- Luang Phabang

    Already these itineraries were changed so I won't bother with a list. Basically a month in Laos bouncing around Northern Laos :D .

    KLX ready to depart
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    I left off with the bright idea, or not so bright, to head off into Laos on a month long solo motorbike journey. The mission was to explore some of the regions outside of the usual Vientiane –Wiang Heng – Luang Phabang loop that all the tourists seem to flock to on their two week tour of southeast Asia and hopefully get to experience some off the beaten path parts of Laos.

    A word of warning was issued by all the grizzled veterans housed in Thailand that rainy season was not the best time to explore Laos, especially off road. So cueing up the 7 year old that resides in my body and sadly dictates too many of my actions, my fingers were placed into my ears and listening to adroit advice was avoided.

    The night before leaving to Laos my buddy Luke calls up at 1:30 am (yes that 1:30 a.m.) to say he has cancelled a trip to England and wanted to be included in the ride to Laos. We had been doing a lot of dirt biking lately even though it was rainy season and we had been having a great time. Since we had two in the party now why not make it a dirt bike trip Luke suggested. I scratched my nubbly chin and said “but its rainy season and everyone says to stay away from off road riding during the monsoon weather”(point). He pointed out we had been having a great time in Thailand despite the rainy season (counterpoint) which was true. So despite everyone’s warnings we mounted up knobbies for a dirt bike ride through Laos during rainy season. We could hear the veterans cackling up their sleeves already.

    The second Muppet volunteering to hang out and ride instead of being responsible and visiting family back home. Proper priorities.
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    Since we planned on some dirt biking we changed sprockets on the bikes for slow speed dirt biking. The only downside to this tactic was we had to drone along roads to reach the border crossing of Chiang Khong, which was 240 KM’s away as the crow flies. Needless to say the pace was turtlelike with the gearing. Halfway to the border the skies opened up and soaked us through. Hmmm lets hope this is not a harbinger of things to come I think.

    The only issue we had prior to the border was riding the KLX about 20 KM's before the city of Chiang Rai Luke and I heard a metallic clanking sound come from the front of the KLX. Everything seemed fine so we kept riding as I thought I may have just run over something. Coming into Chiang Rai I braked for the corner where the 118 joins into highway 1 and alarmingly realized I had no brakes. Pumping the brake lever into the corner like a first timer to the whore houses of Nana Plaza I still could get no brakes. A manic stab at the back brake locked-up the rear wheel as I peeled into the corner. I probably looked well skilled, the sad reality is however I needed a change of undies now. Pulled over we found the clanking noise heard 20 km’s earlier was the brake pads being regurgitated by the KLX front caliper. We continued on the 20 KM's into Chiang Rai through the traffic and hoped no panic stops would be needed. Then looking for brake pads, a worrisome thing searching for bike parts in Thailand. The gents at ST motorbikes were kind enough to try and get me sorted. At first a set of XR 250 pads were used but they literally went up in smoke on the test ride. Seeing as I had a month to go in Laos I begged to try and find another pair that may actually stop the bike. Luckily we spied another KLX (a rare sighting indeed) in another repair shop. The bargaining began as this would be the only source for these pads in this city. Fate shined on us as they let us purchase the pads. Only cost us about 400% mark up but what could we do?

    Discovering that the clanking was not my dropped bollocks into the spokes but the brake pads fleeing the scene
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    Brakes were sorted and lunch was scoffed before our jaunt into the border town of Chiang Khong. This would be my first border crossing with my fraudulent number plate and registration book on the KLX. So fingers were crossed as we headed into the customs office, and began the paperwork needed to bring the bikes from Thailand and into Laos. The reception was warm and efficient with the gals in the customs office merrily helping plod through the drudgery of the paperwork. They all nodded knowingly when we mentioned David Unkovich’s name (our fearless leader back in Chiang Mai) and sent their regards his way. Next stop was with the gents in the immigration office, now in stark contrast to the gals in the customs office the guys here must have eaten starch and glue for breakfast. The guys at immigration quaffed around with their thumb in their bums for an eternity. They resembled workers in Department of Motor Vehicles back in the USA. Why in Thailand are the gals so much more efficient at things than their male counterparts?

    Gals in the customs office were a laugh and made the dullness of paperwork fly by.
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    After the paperwork drudgery it was on to an experience I would not soon forget. Crossing the Mekong with dirtbikes in canoes. You see we could be like most rationale people and wait for the car ferry to get across the river. However we were champing at the bit and after seeing the car ferry was completely empty and with no cars waiting to get across we could see it would not be anytime soon the ferry would be leaving. Patience not being one of my better virtues, we opted for the mighty canoe crossing instead.

    Loading the girls
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    So how do 600 pounds of motorcycles and 300 pounds of nervous bikers get across the Mekong in a canoe? Not that bloody well!!! All seemed easy enough getting the two bikes loaded onto the canoes, a few grunts and groans and two bikes were placed parallel in the canoe. We are supposed to sit on the bikes with our legs braced on the sides of the canoe. Sounds easy enough. It wasn’t until we pushed off that I began to get more nervous than a hooker at a church confessional. All was well and good with the canoe beached on the ground. Once we we floating out on the Mekong river though things were not quite as peachy. The boat started rocking to and fro in the river and you would naturally use your legs to balance on the sides of the boat. If the bike starts leaning to the left you simply push your left leg into the canoe to move the bike back to center…hmmm (try and picture what is going on)but now the pushed left leg is simply tilting the canoe rim into the water without righting the bike. The canoe is not firm ground to keep balance with. Instead the canoe sides tilt and dip when ever weight is placed upon them. Now picture this, you have the canoe tilting left and right with two guys trying to balance the 300 pound machines, but nothing solid to balance the bikes on. We are also fighting each other as the bikes yaw left and right. Add to that our center of gravity is placed high up on the 38” seat height and this is a recipe for disaster. We are resembling the TV show where you see the loggers in the northern U.S. and Canada compete with each other in the game where two loggers stand on a log in the water and try and knock each other off the log by forcing the log to roll left and right.

    Only 10 feet off the bank and the worry is completely visable. Hell its only another 300 yards what can go wrong?
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    This mayhem goes on for about fifty yards and I’m picturing my Laos trip will begin and end with crossing this damn river. I’ll simply be Giant Mekong catfish food. Swimming loaded down with motocross boots and gear with a 20 pound pack strapped to my back is not an option I envision exercising too adeptly. Luckily the gals once again save the day. A lady on the shore we left observes what’s happening and frantically starts yelling at another boat to come to our rescue. Another boat is hastily sent out to try and steady our boat before we capsize and begin the Golden Triangles version of Davey Jones locker on the bottom of the Mekong river.

    You can see the calm cool faces we both have now that our asses have been saved by the other boat.
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    Once the other boat comes to our rescue we begin to breathe again. You see the canoe boat sides are carved with matching tongue and grooves, just like your homes expensive wood flooring. So the second boat was able to provide a firm balance point to steady our boat. Word to the wise. There is a reason that all big bikes and smart people take the car ferry across the Mekong. If it was only one bike it may not have been so bad but the two of us struggling for balance just opened up a Pandoras box of issues. Thank Gawd the second boat came for us.
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    Once safely on the Laos side it was off to do the paperwork dance with the officials. They were all pleasant enough and after 45 minutes of fumbling through the paperwork with the immigration people then the customs office it was time to roll into Huey Xai. We stayed at a place called the Friendship guest house. Located in the middle of town close to an Indian restaurant, curry was ordered for a pleasant change of pace on the cuisine front. Lodging was basic, but fit the bill.

    The Friendship guesthouse in Houei Xai
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  3. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Huey Xai is a main crossing over point for travelers coming from Thailand to Laos. Hence the town was full of backpackers attempting to feel the Southeast Asian vibe in their fisherman pants, Birkenstock shoes, and girlfriends with soft, flabby middles hanging over the pant waists. In an attempt to escape from the overpowering aroma of the travelers and their use of sage and sandalwood body oils Luke and I hit the Vieng View for a night of pervy fun. The Vieng View is just out of town up on the hill overlooking the river. Food was not resort quality however the scenery and view of the Mekong made up for it. The gals tried their best but it was a bit too upmarket for Lukes taste. So we went slumming………..in search of the perfect bottle of Lao Caow at some of the shacks with pink lights along the banks of the Mekong. Proper dodgy, no lighting, dark, dank and musty. Perfect for the Muppets to kill a few hours.

    Sorry no photos of the above activities and to protect reputations you understand.

    We woke the next morning and wolfed down some brekkie then on the road northward to Lam Nam Tha.

    Lukester all geared up and ready to roll.
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    1 1/2 years ago this road was all dirt, it took a 12 hour tortuous muddy bus ride for Luke to get to Lam Nam Tha. Now it’s paved all the way except two spots. At 53 KM and 180 KM there are sections of roadwork still being completed and not paved so conditions are unpredictable at these two points. Each unpaved section is about 3-5 KM's long. Other than that it was fresh curvy blacktop all the way. If you ride non stop its about 3 hours to Lam Nam Tha

    Here is where I started to see a difference between Laos and Thailand. I’ve ridden quite a few miles throughout northern Thailand on and off road. In Laos the children were a lot more interactive as you road by. They would run out to the road yelling and screaming and waving as you rode by. If you would ride wheelies for them they almost fainted with delight. Selfishly, it was really fantastic stuff. The reason is that most of the tourists cross into Huey Xai then board a boat down the Mekong on their way to Luang Phabang. This road does not see as much traffic…..currently. I’m sure as time passes the enthusiasm of the children will wane somewhat as the novelty of Farang wears off a bit. From my perspective it was a fantastic difference between Laos and Thailand, only to be further demonstrated as our trip started penetrating deeper into the back woods.

    Locals that even surpass the Thai friendliness. Great stuff.
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    Rice crops were being planted in full swing.
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    We rolled into Vieng Phoukha which is nothing but a truck stop for the trucks coming over from China. Some vittles were rounded up with the truckers. As we were making our way through a pile of rice a mini bus pulled up with a high end tour package group of French people. They unloaded all decked out in their best “Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter” outfits, with Khaki shorts and shirts, bandanas and even the same boots. It was like they just rolled off the TV set. I was petting a dog during lunch and one of the French gentleman explained that I should be careful of catching a disease and getting sick from the dog. Seeing as this dog looked a lot cleaner than some of the things I’ve woken up with before I brushed it off as another well meaning tourist whose only concept of “roughing it’ was having to watch black and white telly instead of a color big screen. Well, you know what lays in wait for me up the road.

    The dog that would later be my undoing.
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    The rice fields were being planted by the locals and the colors were fantastic riding up the road.
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    Riding the tractor home.
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    Combine that with the friendly, smiling people and I was already in love with Laos and it’s only been two days. The tarmac road was a sportsbike dream, very few decreasing radius corners so you could lean it over and put smiles on your face. Great stuff so Luke and I enjoyed scrubbing the edges of the knobs downcombined with gawking at the scenery and waving at all the friendly people.

    The children pretending that we were somebody. Great people with no facades. A wee bit different than Los Angeles.
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    Gassing up at the local PTT station. Buckets and hoses were the norm. Actually a lot more polished than the whiskey bottles in Cambodia.
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    Scenery from the road on the way to Lam Nam Tha.
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    We entered Lam Nam Tha for a drink and gas. We even managed to come across a guy riding I believe it was Mat Wards (another GT rider) ole Minsk. Complete with the Aussie flag still on the tank.
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    Luke and I decided to push on to Muen Sing for the night instead of Lam Nam Tha. The road from LMT to Muen Sing is quite slow speed corners and plenty of them since it parallels a river through the mountain range.
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    A great road but be forewarned. Its narrow and I encountered a decent amount of pickups in my lane coming around corners. Don’t hug that inside line through here or you might end up a hood ornament.

    It was getting late in the day so the hill tribe people were beginning to come out of the hills on the way home. Really great to see the loot and bounty they pull out of the forest to live off.
    Here's a guy loaded with roofing tiles, Laos style.
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    I even stopped to chat with some gals loaded with firewood in the handmade backpacks to haul it out with.
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    Luke and I spent a lot of time riding together and sometimes we give each other room and separate on the road to be able to enjoy our own solitude in places like this.
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    I passed a group of young gals pulled off on the road having some food and drink and they all yelled and screamed as I went by. Being the chivalrous gent that I am I made a u-turn to see if they were ok :wink: . Luke then pulled up and the party was on.
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    We ended up hanging out with this group of young boys and girls, drinking and eating Gawd knows what for awhile. They were all a great time so when I whipped out the camera I was taken aback by their sudden shyness. The gals became bashful if the camera was pointed there way. This contrasted greatly with their ability to knock back cups of rice whiskey. By the time I left I was admittedly boozed as I wobbled off down the road to Muen Sing wishing my liver was as efficient as Lukes.
     
  4. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    This report will be put together over the next day as I'm scribbling madly for David and trying to replace a sewer main and roof my house at the same time.

    Damn the pictures bring back some great memories. Wish I was over there with you all now.

    Luke chime in with your take on things and pics.
     
  5. daewoo

    daewoo Ol'Timer

    Uhhhmmm mate... as that cute little kid in Kindergarten Cop said... Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina... :D :D :D

    Great so far... type faster...

    Cheers,
    Daewoo
     
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Good on you Justin, I knew you'd get the hint. Please keep it coming as we know your report will be a good 'un & amusing in the extreme.

    Now there's one other guy north of Cnx for whom I also uploaded a stack of photos a year ago to write up his reports & zilch. All somewhat disappointing.
     
  7. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    Justin

    Cracking stuff with a very amusing turn of phrase.

    Don't worry about the house repairs...

    Keep Posting.

    Looking forward to see if there are any further encounters
    with the "little green elves" chasing you in the jungle.

    PS R still awaiting explanation of "ftb"...

    Cheers
    Rhodie
     
  8. mat.ward

    mat.ward Ol'Timer

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    Classic! Tracey's beloved "White Kiwi" lives! Good to see it is still leaking oil all over Laos.
    That's the guy we sold the bikes to in LP.
    Aussie flag? Has it got an Aussie flag somewhere on it, or are you mistaking kiwis for kangaroos?
    Thanks for posting this photo, it has given us a good laugh as we battle through winter in Scotland. Enjoying the post and photos, I know there is much more to come, looking forward to it.

    Sold! Same guy you met.
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    Trace on White Kiwi on the road to Phongsali
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  9. Lightemup

    Lightemup Ol'Timer

    Good read, good pics, thanks for taking the time.
     
  10. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Mat - Yep kiwi and kangaroo, both foriegn to this yank :roll: Glad you got a kick out of seeing the ole steed.

    Rhodie - remind me again about the FTB later in the thread and I'll fill you in :wink: .

    David - yes the report is long over due. Trouble is there is another half dozen after this that have to be written :shock: , I'm an indentured servent to the GT-rider board for now.

    Daewoo -
    is not always true here in Thailand I've heard. Careful out there :wink:

    Thanks all for posting. I reckon I need to thank Silverhawk for all the posts. His thread has brought people out of the and lighting a fire under all our bums to post more. Good on ya Dave.
     
  11. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    We rolled into Muen Sing and ended up in an obvious guest house on the east side of town pass the gas station on the north side of the street. A couple of dollars had us put up for the night.

    Dinner was scoffed down at one of the two visible restaurants in the center of this tiny town. Hint the western most restaraunt is the tastier of the two.

    I started laying it on thick for the piece of Laotian pussy that joined me for dinner.
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    Sadly the curse that the French “Steve Irwin” imitator put on me earlier in Vieng Phoukha reared its head during the night. My bum and head began fighting for toilet time and everything started vacating my body out of every orifice. The next 36 hours had me driving the porcelain bus and seeing if my nose reaches the toilet water when vomiting from the side of the bowl. Not the most pleasant way to spend a day when your head has to follow the bum at steering the porcelain bus. The day I whinged and moaned by the john Luke decided to go for a ride and ended up riding to the Chinese border scaring buffaloes and locals as he appeared out of the bushes on the XR. Needless to say despite his dashing good looks and best attempts he failed to con his way into China and beat Rheikel to the punch.

    Lets backtrack to getting into Muang Siang. We rolled into this city since we wanted an early start on a 79km off road single track trail Mat Ward wrote about in his post that his friend Jeremy had done in the dry season that leaves out of the nearby village of Long. The photos of it looked spectacular and it supposedly ends up back down in Vieng Phoukha. We looked at each other when the report Mat wrote said “it was maybe makeable in the dry season but no way on the wet”. It being the peak part of rainy season now, we were off to find out why you could not make it in the wet. Yep you know where this is heading.

    48 hours and a few kilos lighter we hit the trails.
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    We trundled west out of town.
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    Exactly 49 KM's from the Muen Sing gas station in the center of town a small 3 foot wide trail winds up the hill off the left side of the road. We apologized to Buddha for our prior evening’s behavior and hoped he'd give us a hand on what lay ahead.

    A hundred yards up the trail Luke battens down the hatches for what looks like a fantastic ride ahead.
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    On our trail rides in Laos we came across many of these fences.
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    Our apologies to Buddha for the prior evenings activities fall on deaf ears. Buddha instead gives us the finger. Yep the trail was a pure joy for about 200 yards winding up off the road. Luke and I were on the gas as it had been 3 days getting up here and we were looking forward to some dirt riding and this trail seemed as it would deliver. Well it delivered all right, its just that it delivered what IanBungy lovingly refers to as "slippery as cat shit". The trail was not difficult however our wheels could not get purchase. For love nor money would our rear tires hook up with terra firma. The knobbies were as useless as a Pattaya hooker helping you with your PHD thesis. They would fill up with mud, become a slick tire and you would begin cursing and moaning as the tire would spin. No matter how ginger you were with the throttle the tire just spin on the clay. So instead of riding, Luke and i began hours of bike wrestling.

    Luke and I had mounted fresh knobbies front and rear for the trip expecting a bit of mud. Well they were not knobbies for long.
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    The mud was not deep and the terrain was relatively easy as for as trail riding goes. Its just we could not get the tires to dig in anywhere. We would of sold our souls at this point for a battery powered screwgun and some sheetmetal screws to put in the knobbies. It was like riding on glass with a layer of vaseline. We would ride on the sides of the trails when possible for any type of traction.
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    This bridge was a joy with the logs being slick and wet.
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    We spent the next few hours pushing and pulling. yanking on bars, side bags, handguards and anything else to coax the bikes forward. Progress was minimal and we were running out of cursewords to describe our feelings.
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    The trail was not steep, rutted or technical at this point, however with the surface of the trail resembling Teflon we could move hide nor hair forward.

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    After 4 hours of this we had gone a grand total of 8 KM's. Hmmm four hours down and eight KM's ridden, uhhhhhhh only another 70 to go until Vieng Phouka. Not looking good at this point. We kept hoping it was just a short section of this ugliness and it would get better up ahead. However we were not riding at this point as the tires would just spin. We could not even push the bikes as our boots would not grip either. So we just proceeded to fall over with bikes on top of us for over four hours. You can only imagine how much fun we were having about now.

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    Luke feeling the love flowing and thinking he should have gone and visited his mum instead.
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    Wishing I was back in the Karaoke instead of floundering in the hills.
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    By this point I was shot.
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    Another worry was there were no escape routes halfway through to get us to a town or village. You see the trail runs through the NBCA wilderness and its not the place for lost tourists to be plodding about. We were absolutely shattered. The bikes rear wheel probab;y hit the 78 KM mile mark with all the spinning it was doing. A few hill tribe people passed us on the trail walking and looked at us a bit curiously probably wondering why the farang were cursing so loudly and making noises with their bikes but not going anywhere, A strange tradition i'm sure they thought.

    Bottom line is Mat Ward was right, it’s not a trail for the wet season. We never even made it to where the trail got difficult. So sadly after six hours of floundering around in the slick mud we rode back into Muen Sing with our first defeat of the trip. We'll be back for some fun when it dries out a bit as the trail looks simply awesome and the jungle that it progresses through is both dense and lush.

    Coming back out of the trail I was so exhausted I crashed even on this easy section.
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    We motored back into Long for a much needed recess from the bike wrestling. I eyed some friendly lasses and had some laughs with the gals.
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    Luke was feeling shattered and I'm sure that must of altered his normal sense of choosing fine lasses, however this lady was determined to show Luke some new tricks. He sure put a smile on her face though.
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    The locals admiring the handsome gent and wondering what overpriced goods to unload on us.
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    Back in Mueng Sing some empathy and solace was sought after to soothe our bruised ego’s. So prey tell where should the lads be poking their heads into????

    Umm maybe here???
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    It was off to paint the town red. This town harbored a few joints that had Lukes radar singing loudly when entered so fresh undies were donned to go explore. We trundled into one joint as the first customers of the evening. Well come on guys….we're an anxious bunch and since when is 7:30 too early to call into a karaoke?

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    Luke teaching the ladies the "Hustle"
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    A great time was had as we bounced from hidden karaoke to hidden karaoke having a laugh with the ladies and good times for all.
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    Rumors you hear of us getting tossed out of Karaoke’s in this town are just that, rumors. We were not riding bicycles inside the club, dancing on stage, or making love with chairs on the dance floor. It’s all hearsay.
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    Bottom line the people in Muen Sing were wonderful and really showed us a decent time. The town is now a mixture of Chinese and hill tribe. Where I understand it not too many years ago it was primarily a hill tribe town. The Chinese influence manages to really creep forward on its bordering towns.

    Soooooo I'll second Mats advice that the trail from Long to Vien Phouka is dry season only.
     
  12. mat.ward

    mat.ward Ol'Timer

    Excellent stuff.
    No one can say you didn't give that wet trail a good nudge.
    Seems like you got over the disappointment quite quickly. I particularly like the photo of the girl trying to explain to you that a plastic chair is not the most suitable dance partner.
    Keep the posts coming, they are bloody good.
    Mat
     
  13. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    What can I say? After your weakened condition from the excursions driving the porcelain bus, then totally exhausting yourselves on the teflon trail, you still manage to have the stamina for "musical chairs". Better man than me. :eek:
     
  14. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    guys - Off to the mountains for a couple days and will get back to the report when next by a computer.

    Dave - Amazing what a fit feline does for your recuperative capabilities :wink: . I still don't know why I got so dreadfully sick that time. No worries I'll just blame it on the French.

    Mat - sadly the trail took it out of us from the get go so we don't have that many photos of us on the trail. Lets just say neither of us were in the festive mood to be taking pictures. Normally when one of us crashes and is grumpy it usually inspires the other to document the occasion with a picture. during this debacle neither of us were thinking of pictures, only thinking "when does the damn mud end".

    Here's another pic documenting that we were not the only people using the trail. Hill tribe picnic table.
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    In this shot Luke had been duck paddling for over 15 minutes to go the distance in the photo. The girls were laughing at him because he was swearing bloody murder inside his helmet the whole way. For them its just a casual stroll into the village of Long. It must be a long way since the next closest village is about 30 km's away.
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  15. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    After being spanked on the singletrack trail we decided a new geography and road were in order for some exploration to raise our spirits. We packed up and rode from Mueng sing to Oudom Xai.

    Luke prepping for a days fun. In the day its 3 cans of ice coffee to be changed over to three bottles of Sang Som in the evening.
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    The road over to Oudam Xai is quite fresh and new. Some more nice curves keep the pavement bikes happy leaning into corners that you can see all the way through. Combine that with racetrack like pavement and this leg was a joy.

    Sadly all my pics are taken with one swipe of the camera button from the saddle. Quite unlike Rhodies masterpieces. Suffer on.
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    Oudom Xai itself is a town that need not be on the top of your list of pristine, architecturally well thought out towns to visit. It’s a typical expanding Chinese town with loads of building/construction taking place. Resulting in dust, dirt, and noise everywhere. Warm and dusty with not much imagination in the construction. We scurried around for some food and ended up meeting a nice young family. They put together some decent vittles for us and the teenage boy with his dyed red hair was a laugh.
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    The gal superbly flirted with Luke, then denied having a boyfriend. Only to be caught later with her boyfriend in tow :lol: . Typical SEA.

    The reason we were coming to Oudom Xai was not for its fine vittles but to explore some more off road trails. Due to our floundering in the slick wet trails in the jungles near Mueng Sing we figured the arid environment of Oudom Xai would give us a fighting chance. Our plans this time had us exit Oudom Xai heading south and pass highway 13. On Davids Unk’s map there is a dirt road that heads west then jogs south to the city of Nga. The road ends here on Davids map however we heard it goes through to Pak ou. Then from Pak Ou a hop skip and jump into Luang Phabang. At least that is what we heard.

    Off we go then.

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    The dirt road we were looking for is a left off the 2W from Oudom Xai. I wish I could give you mileage but by this time both my odometer magnet had shattered and my illustrious Garmin GPS gave up the ghost quicker than a bargirl leaves when the wallet runs dry. So no saved GPS tracks for our fearless leader Davidfl and no odo readings in which to judge gas mileage. Anyway it’s a left just passed a guard shack with a barricade across the road. We both breathe a sigh of relief as the dirt is dry and the throttles get pinned. Now we’re singing. Nothing beats flying down the off road with your buddy, your jersey flapping in the breeze, and the tires sliding. Its times like this I wish I had more than 300 cc’s. The road twists and turns and had its share of ruts on the uphill and downhill sections but otherwise flowed uninterrupted. Well that is until you come round a corner and find your buddy sticking out of the bushes. The ole Lukester was really enjoying it. Seemingly enjoying it a bit more than his front tire as the tire cried “no mas’ and slid off the road. We both are constantly entertained by each others crashes and fallovers. Luke doesn’t disappoint with a giant skid mark marking his exit point off the trail.

    Hondahonkey exploring the sides of the trail
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    To prove its not a left turn thing the tire fails to grip in the right turns also. Luke this is payback for my blown apex on the corner outside Chiang Khong pic :D
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    Scenic views off the road.
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    This trail was a contrast to the trail the day before. A nice wide fire road that is fairly smooth and a good pace can be kept. It rolls down a valley passing numerous small Hmong villages along the way. We felt like aliens as the locals don't get too many big bikes or farangs rolling through. The scenery is impressive through this section and I must say, so far Laos far surpasses Thailand in terms of scenery. Loads of wilderness, Jungle, people not hardened yet by tourism, and countless places to explore.

    [​IMG]

    The Merrill Lynch Real Estate Investment Trust money probably has not discovered this gem yet :lol: .
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    The people are initially not as outwardly warm as the Thais but if you take the time for them to warm to you, seem more sincere with their feelings towards you, rather than wielding a facade of kindness as many Thais do.
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    We got into Nga and were instantly the hit of the town. We had drinks with a husband and wife who were friendly and helpful. Luke and I always laughed in these villages as the people were always curious why we were choosing to ride through the jungle rather than take the easy pavement roads. I’m sure it poses quite a quandary to the locals, the farangs strange interest in trying the dirt roads.
    <img src=""
     
  16. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Just got an email from a fellow GT-rider stating I was missing from the helm of writing reports and needed to keep posting.

    So apologies and I'll update this post.
     
  17. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    The next day morning dawned bright and clear and we figured we’d run into Luang Phabang via pavement (bah humbug). So it was down highway 13 to Pak Mung. The road from Oudom Xai was all tarmac with the odd 100 meter section of dirt and quite a few potholes. But the curves were plenty and once again Luke and I were having a laugh wearing off the sides of the knobs.

    About 20 Km’s out of town Luke pulled over to inspect his muffler. It was pulling a “Southern Thailand” and was trying to separate into its own free self from the header.
    [​IMG]
    As we pulled tools/spares to get it cobbled I looked at my front wheel as something was amiss (much like my old marriage). Hmmmm, the wheel bearing was loose and sloppier than the gal Luke had the night before. No jury rigging a wheel bearing so we cobbled together Lukes muffler then backtracked wheel awobbling back to Oudom Xai for a fix. A nice scooter shop was helpful enough to chase wheel bearings down for us and help us slap them in. The upside was the scooter shop co owner was quite pleasing to the wandering Lukesters eye so made the down time bearable.

    Luke focused his camera on the lass pretending to take pcs of his mate.
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    When the gal offered to put a sticker on my bike Luke suddenly became the gent to come offer his assistance. Gent that he is.
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    Back on the road to Pak Mong and loads of twisties awaited us. Had to watch clipping those left turn apexes as the odd Mitsubishi truck bumper would be there to greet you. Luke had to make a hard right when going through a left hander to avoid becoming bumper fodder and ended up in the ditch. Luke was wishing it was London so he could go back and give the driver bloody hell. This being Asia we just sauntered on. Such are the joys of riding in South East Asia.

    Luke post bumper fodder.
    [​IMG]

    The mountain valley views as you twist and turn your way down to Pak Mong are pretty and make traveling in Laos well worth it.
    [​IMG]
    The tight turns seem to go on forever which is bliss on a motorbike. This road may not be much fun on a stiffly sprung Ducati with the potholes and rough pavement, but on the dirt bike it was loads of fun. The kids all were in prime waving moods and my left arm was hardly on the bars as it was waving so much.

    A quick lunch in Pak Mong then it was hang a right and continue down the 13 on our way to Luang Phabang. Luke and I were complaining about the bike handling changing with our bags on it. Then we came across this gal and quit whinging.
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    From Pak Moong the road widens and the tight turns are behind you. You can make decent time on this stretch of road as it parallels the Nam Ou river into Luang Phabang. Some gorgeous mountain formations show themselves on your ride into town.
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    On the way into Luang Phabang you see plenty of evidence of logging and the granite mining that take place in the surrounding areas. lets hope it can be held off enough to keep its beauty.

    <img src=""http://withgusto.smugmug.com/photos/249640646_cFqLk-M.jpg
     
  18. daewoo

    daewoo Ol'Timer

    It just keeps getting better B&T... keep it coming, (as the bishop said to the actress)...

    Cheers,
    Daewoo
     
  19. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Thanks Daewoo!! Slow and tedious, this report resembles a 95 year old prostate problem guy pissing in how quickly its being posted.

    Oh well its coming its coming. Just like I tell the overworked girl in the Star of Light.
     
  20. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    I need Luke to fill in some details here as I’m penning this a year later and can’t quite remember the directions we took once leaving Luang Phabang. So those of you out carousing around the karaoke’s of Chiang Mai with Luke tell him to jump in on this thread and help me out. I have no Laos map to consult here in the states. Where were we going again??????

    From memory which is a vile bit of useless white matter at this point in time recalls we left Luang Phabang heading north up the 13 then hanging a right on a major dirt road heading to Phonxay. Our idea was to punch through the jungle wherever we could and end up in either Phonsovan or Xam Neua depending where we come out at. Anyway the road off the 13 to Phonxay was a nice graded affair that meandered at a high speed about for about 20(?)KM’s out of town. We passed through Phonxay and filled up the tanks for good measure. Along this stretch Luke had the throttle pinned and was sucking in the scenery. He managed to suck in one thing he did not mean to but that’s a story I’ll let the Honda Honkey tell.

    Gassing up in Phonxay and making use of the GTrider map. We're not lost yet!!!
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    We continued up the road a bit crossing through another town and a stream. I waited on the other side of the stream to snap some pics of the upcoming entourage. I waited and waited.

    Waiting for the crew to splash across this river. Check out the bridge supports being fashioned and the first scaffolding across the span.
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    Felt like a high school dance all over with the waiting about and no action. After 20 minutes I donned the steed and backtracked looking for my mates. The Germans were an unknown variable and I feared they might have gotten into some trouble. Either that or their fisherman pants got caught in the chain.

    Turns out the Lukester had said hello to a rock with too much enthusiasm and punctured his tire. No problem a village was 2 KM’s back so we whipped off the wheel and rode back to the village for the fix.

    Luke learning the fine art of fixing a puncture as the crowd gathers for the spectacle.
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    The normal crowd gathered around as we entertained ourselves with the locals as the puncture was patched. My favorite times about traveling always involve interaction with the locals, this village was no exception. Always laughing, pointing and gossiping the locals really make it interesting.

    Me grabbing on to the only male shorter than I in the village.
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    Motorcycling is nice in that when a problem is discovered, you can whip out some tools and make the problem a thing of the past. One wonders why my female companions have not been so easy to smooth out the rough edges, hmmmm.

    Luke crossing with his new found air in the tire.
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    One of our newfound "Red baron" squadron enjoying himself, for now.
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    Anyway back on the track and across the river we come across another small village and ask directions. They shake their head and say it’s not possible. Not a great sign eh? Then the official Laotian little green men come out, uh oh…..Luke and I yell at the Germans to mount up and scatter before the green men could approach us. Being German they understood withdrawal and reenacted their World War II retreat along the Eastern front from the Soviets in 1944. Visions of being held hostage here drive us on, escaping the wrath of the “little green men” asking for our passports. Well there’s a fork in the road here and we take the right fork that goes up the mountain. A little steep and rutted and probably not much fun in the wet. It meanders up into the mountains along a lovely stretch of road. Now we are coming to loads of forks in the roads but have no idea where we are supposed to be going as according to the map there are only a couple forks.

    Luke checking to see if the fisherman panted guests are still with us. Coming across typical rush hour traffic on the trail not as many horns as the LA freeway however.
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    Hmmmmm this is where riding in foreign countries is interesting. This is the point that we begin to get lost and Pandora opens her box for us to dine on. All the people and villagers we come to and ask directions all answer negative there is no way through. Well Luke is not the most patient man and according to my ex wife I’m not much better. So with conviction and confidence we blindly plod onwards. Contrary to the nervous Germans, who prefer to travel with organization and methodology, we adopt the “follow our noses” compass heading and plod on. The Germans plead logically that we should find out where to go. Since nobody knows, not us nor villagers, there are obviously no clear answers. Undoubtedly they are out of their comfort zone when in the company of the Muppets and its starting to show. The faces of the krauts (said with all due respect) look tense and nervous, their mums would not be happy. We state adventure only starts when plans go awry, let’s wing it, and off Luke and I ride. We are getting a fair way from anything resembling civilization so at the next small village we stumble into I request a sumptuous feast to stave off the diabetes.

    Attempting to order my Tri tip steak medium rare.
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    Instead of lobster Thermadore and tri tip steak however the most we can scrounge up from the village is some week old sticky rice. Its times like these I hate to be diabetic. Munching down the stale rice while the rest of the crew wrinkled their noses at it except Patsey.
    [​IMG]

    We asked for more directions. By this point it was getting hopeless, no answers. Onward we go, sorry no fog though.

    Luke and I will throw a wheelie out for the kids in the village. Always good fun and they get a kick out of it. Well Pastey decides since he has not yet learned to wheelie that he will take off with a full handful of throttle to impress the locals. He no doubt accomplished this, but not by his rapid exit. The locals were more impressed in how he shifted into third gear right as a sharp left corner came upon him. Now the Germans may have invented the “Ultimate Driving Machine” but poor old Patsey had obviously been a bit behind in his lessons as he just launched straight off the road and cliff edge into the bushes. I’m sure the locals thought us a bit daft as how are these lost Farangs going to get anywhere especially when members cannot even ride a motorbike. Our team is highly skilled folks.

    It takes half a dozen villagers to pull Patsey back onto the road, by this time he is beet red with embarrassment. Luckily we coddle him with gentle praise as supportive as we can be ;) and the locals are laughing hysterically once they realize our entourage is not so worried about saving face.

    The villages are more remote with the average child bearing age well below when I could legally see and "R' rated movie at home.
    [​IMG]

    The change in village demeanors was fascinating. Some would welcome you in with laughter and cheers and others observe you with what seemed untrusting eyes, very cautious. Then again if my country dropped as many bombs as it did on this country I'd not be rolling out the welcome mat either. Not Ram mount ball with no GPS since it was long broken.
    [​IMG]

    I have no idea how far we are into on this ride since both my GPS and odometer are not functioning. We find gas at the next village which I believe is Baanphoneton with a bit of prodding and pleading. We attempt to ask directions again but all we seem to get is “no it cannot be done” from the villagers. The Germans look dismayed at this point. But hell its gonna get worse so lets not hear the whinging yet eh? We explore around the outskirts of the village looking for trails or paths to continue our journey. Sadly no definitive trails rear their heads to our evaluation. We spy a small trail beneath some mud and grass that runs beside a house. Living in Thailand now I have often heard that a road does not go through only to find that it does indeed go through it just may be a bit arduous. This trail is singletrack. No 4 wheel vehicles can get through past this point and the trail is on the north east side of the village.
    [​IMG]
    This was the NBCA according to the locals. I think the locals either don’t want to send the farangs into the forest or that they don’t want them wandering around in the forests. We dodge some more little green men and blunder off into the jungle.

    The trail is single-track now and loads of fun. Crossing creeks and rocks and threading through the undergrowth it’s the type of riding Luke and I love.
    [​IMG]

    Its late afternoon by now and daylight is beginning to wane. At this point we have no idea where we are or how far we have to go to get anywhere. In other words we are completely lost in the jungles of Laos. We ask village names but none of them appear on David’s map. Then again most people are not exploring dinky footpaths in the jungles of Laos either.

    We begin crossing so many rivers and creeks that I lose count. The villages we find are in jungle clearings and consist of between 4-8 small huts and small wooden homes just containing one room generally raised 8 feet off the ground. The village women are dressed in their jungle garb which is a pleasing change of scenery.

    Motorbikes are no more beyond this point, access to and from these villages is via foot only. As skilled as the villagers are on the motorbikes I’m not sure if the reason for lack of motorbikes is terrain difficulty or insufficient funding. The downside to this discovery is that fuel is a scarce commodity out here now. A bit daunting when you have no idea where we are or where we are going.

    We continue our slogging through the jungle and begin crossing many bamboo gates, sliding down paths and snaking our way through the brush. We gather no photos as we are pushing for time. Since daylight is waning we are hoping to get somewhere before it’s too late and the last thing on the mind is documenting our path with pictures. In hindsight I’m bummed because this was the most interesting trail and I’ve no pictures to remember it by.

    The Germans are pinging mentally now, before it was mere concern for our “onward through the fog” cavalier attitude. The concern has now morphed into something a bit more frantic. I had discussed the morning before we left that Luke and I knew nothing about where we were going that particular day only off to explore, and lord knows what we would find or where we would end up. If they wanted to come along they could but we offered no guarantees. They stop me at this point and suggest maybe a retreat is in order. A RETREAT I mutter, this is not 1945 and not the Russian front so retreating is not on our mind. Luke’s from Britain and my parents are both British so the irony of the conversation is evident. I state that Luke and I know not where we are going nor what we are doing but we intend to continue on the path ahead. If they would like to Honor their heritage with a Rommel like Axis retreat they were more than welcome to backtrack themselves. I think their fisherman pants were wrapped a bit too tightly that day.

    Our next obstacle was another river and the trail started from a bank 20 feet above the river and slid like a very steep slide 15 feet down hung a sharp right and off a 2 foot ledge into the river. Uhh ohh!!! There was a bit of chin scratching going on at this point as this most definitely would end in some awkward moments. The slide was too narrow, steep and slippery to bulldog the bike down so it would be a matter of riding the first 10 feet then crashing the last 5 feet. Hmmmm. The Muppets were deciding how to do this obstacle with the least carnage when out of the bushes 3 little kids came. These children were our saviors. They were kind enough to point out an alternative way which was back up the path a way and take a left through another gate that then entered the river in a more normal crossing manner rather than a guaranteed crash into it. Many thanks were given to the kids for their insight and saving us from certain carnage.

    The trail is not only one direction, it forks off many different places and we always tried for the most obvious, well used option. We meandered some more through a couple more villages each time asking them how to get through and each time getting told what we did not want to hear, a shaking of the head indicating no. We had stopped seeing scooters in the villages for awhile now and gas was going to start being a concern at some point.

    We would pull into a village and smile and say hello then proceed to skirt the other side of the village looking for a way out. No wonderful signs pointing the way for us so we must of looked like some spastics to the locals. Since we had no idea what city or town to use as a reference to aim for direction asking was useless at this point. They would smile and wave good bye as we exited the villages off into the bushes once again. We were growing a bit tired now as we had been on the bikes all day. We pushed through the last village to cross another river crossing. We crossed the river and came to an abrupt halt. The bank on the other side looked as tough as a Russian bar maid. It climbed up a 3 foot deep rut that was only a foot wide then hung a 180 degree left turn and climbed another 15 feet up the rut to the top of the embankment. You could walk up and down the rut without a problem. Getting a 300 pound motorbike up it did not look so easy. We scoured the surrounding for an alternative way around and queried the villagers. Nada, no way, that was our only alternative to getting out of the river. Problem was the bike could not ride up the rut since it was 3 feet dept and 1 foot wide. Luke tried riding straight up the bank and even with 4 of us pushing and grunting there was no ground gained. We tried this for 30 minutes but made no headway.

    This was like the beaches at Normandy, a lot of effort and heroics but very little forward progress was being made. The locals were in hysterics watching us flounder across on the other bank and asked what the hell we were going to do when we came to the really hard stuff up the trail farther. Boy they knew how to boost our confidence.

    Our cheering crew getting entertained at our "clog in the artery" part of the trail.
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    Villagers coming home after scrounging the jungles for sustenance.
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    I was curious what was being harvested from the jungle and the gals were more than happy to give me a lesson in jungle scrounging 101.
    This village was warm and friendly with smiles and laughs aplenty. My friends ask me what I'm doing here. Its people like this that keep me here.
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    [​IMG]

    My new found friend offering to teach me the Tarzan ways of the jungle.
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    By then it was 5:30 PM and we were knackered. Light was fading fast and so an executive decision was made to halt our troops at this point. Luke wanted to backtrack ASAP to get back to a larger village. Our man will brave all elements with a puffed out chest. However once the sun sets and the dark jungle rears its head Luke’s chest goes back to an Asian “A” cup, he prefers a nice room to a jungle canopy. This village was really warm and friendly to us so I thought what about holing up here for the night?????

    This village had soooo many children we knew how the adults passed the time.
    [​IMG]
    We looked around for the Sheraton or Hyatt Regency to check in but to no avail. We ended up playing in the river for awhile with the locals. It was the end of the day and the members of the village were filing back in from the jungle after a day of cultivating what they could from the jungle. Ladies and children came in with baskets filled with various strange vegetables and roots. Some of the teenage boys returned with black powder muskets after a hunt for various pigeons. Sadly the monkeys and tigers are a thing of the past in these jungles.

    So how do four white guys delicately enquire as to whether we can spend the night in the village? We were soaked with sweat and dead tired. So we rode the bikes back to the village and just started changing out of our bike gear into street clothes. This drew a crowd as I dashed the reputation of the well hung farang by slipping out of my motorbike pants in front of a crowd of spectators.
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    A child with his bamboo "frogging" stick.
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    Luke and I took a refreshing bathe in the river. Other locals were also bathing but they seemed to give each other room for privacy during bathing. Quite unlike when you’re back in the village and every action is under microscopic view.

    Since the last shot of me, in my boxers in a river, on the board caused a stir I figure its Lukes turn to takeover as British Bums BlueBoy pinup man of the month.
    [​IMG]

    Why is it that Luke and I always end up in a river in our underwear together on rides? I'm getting nervous. Lukes got a purdy mouth though.

    Once emerged from the relaxing “Spa of Laos” it was pitch black. We knew not where we were going to sleep and so were pleasantly surprised to be ushered into a gentlemans hut. This turned out to be the village leader and he welcomed us with open arms. Such a treat, as if you pulled up into my place in southern California unannounced the police would soon be called to haul you away.

    I'll continue when I get a chance. Off to bed now and thanks for tuning in.
     
  21. mat.ward

    mat.ward Ol'Timer

    Right, I think it is time for an update to this ongoing saga.

    It's one of the best posts on here, but it's f-ing slow! You must have thought of a few more dodgy metaphors since the last post.
     
  22. daewoo

    daewoo Ol'Timer

    I agree with Matt... don't make someone come around and break another couple of ribs to keep you from riding...

    :)

    Cheers,
    Daewoo
     
  23. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    I agree, one of the best posts on the forum, but not quite finished yet. Probably too much riding going on.
     
  24. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Apologies to the three gents that actually read the post :lol: .

    Davids right. I've come back to Thailand and selfishly been riding on trips around Thailand and not getting the fingers back on the keyboard.

    I'll pen more I promise. Thanks for the interest.
     
  25. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    So we make our way up the wood steps into the Village Chiefs hut. A single room hut on stilts. The room has mysteriously filled with what seems like the entire village.
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    They were like bugs that just seemed to emerge from the walls all eager to check out the lost farangs. Check out the kids eyes on the left.

    [​IMG]

    Our hosts were friendly and engaging, enquiring about our intended routes, how many days, etc. We learned we were a five day walk from our destination; however the trail was a lot more treacherous farther up than where we had gotten stuck, unable to get out the river the other side. A mountain bike would be able to be portaged through the sections we reckon but a motorbike might be a bit more arduous. The villagers reckon it impossible on a motorbike but we can't offer any insight. See where we were was far enough out in the bush that there were no motorbikes in any of the small villages we passed through, they relied on their feet for travel. So no motorbikes have probably been down the trail. Not impossible just not done before. It would require more efforts than what we were willing to expend to hump the bikes up the 15 foot embankment through the bushes.

    Once the serious topics of routes and destinations were covered it was onto more important topics like answering questions of why farang women are fat, do they cook well, etc. We stated that the Lao ladies were far superior in every way in the hopes of tempting them into putting on their Julia Child hats and whipping up some grub. We were all quite knackered and hungry from wrestling the bikes all day.

    [​IMG]
    We blathered on about how great lao people were etc. then Luke produced a gem from his Digital Camera depicting me with a dodgy looking hill tribe lady that looked like she hit every branch of the "ugly" tree she fell out of. The beetlenut stains she had were shown off in a picture smile with my arm around her. The look of confusion on the villagers face was priceless as Luke explained that was a Lady i was courting in Thailand and I was deeply in love with her and if they could not find a better lady for me I would be doomed to marry her. Watching them try to be polite as they viewed the picture yet spoke in their native dialect amongst themselves about what a troll i had gotten involved with a laugh.

    What always goes on in small rural villages in Thailand goes on in the hill tribes of Laos. The jug of homemade Rice whiskey was produced in an attempt to cause our livers to cry "no more". I'm not the best of drinkers on a good day but at 140 pounds and get me 45 minutes into shooters with half the village and no signs of slowing down and I was getting well and truly pissed drunk.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A Lao gent shuffled to the front of the onlookers to have a chat and clutched in his hands was a chicken. He enquired if we'd like the little bugger to fill our gullets. We nodded eagerly and put in a request to have it cooked w/ Dijon mustard sauce and a side of asparagus. The gent with the chicken looks like he enjoys offing cluckers while his buddy looks like he's Gomer Pyles mate.

    [​IMG]

    Thankfully the village gals laid out their best. While the Asparagus and Mustard sauce were not available we had the feeling they pulled out all the stops that the jungle was able to provide that day. Its amazing that back home in California I can choose between a dozen different international cuisines for any evening meal and contrast that with a lot of the world that has no such choices available. The locals we were with this evening scrounged in the jungle every day to forage for food. We witnessed roots, vedgies and fruits being brought back but not in huge quantities. I got the feeling that the food that was prepared was considered a huge quantity by our hosts. In fact it would not of fed two Thai people in Thailand, let alone four hungry westerners that had been pulling and pushing motorbikes all day. It amazes me how much more of a virtual footprint I as a westerner put on this planet relative to one of these hill tribe gents.

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    The hut was filled wall to wall with inquisitive eyes and endearing smiles and all was rivers of milk and hills of chocolate.....even the local single ladies.... errrm girls, made their appearance trolling for hubbies. Great seeing them all dolled up in their best outfits and white make-up. Quite evident the young marrying age as I’m guessing these gals were 11 or 12.

    [​IMG]

    Once we were all sufficiently boozed and food plates wiped clean it was onto bed. A bamboo mat a piece and that was home sweet home for us. We dozed off rapidly and dreamed of fun trails to ride.

    [​IMG]

    Then we were awoken by three drunken lao men. They were trying to tell us that the bikes were in danger of being taken by a neighboring village. UUgggh What!!! Yep, we were told they could not be trusted and would surely come and steal our scoots. We explained that we were out in the middle of nowhere and it was not that much of a concern for us and we would surely hear anybody rummaging around our bikes since they were directly under our hut and we could see them through the slats in the floor. This logic only strengthened the villagers’ argument and then it became clear. They were railroading us into paying them to protect our bikes. A real Lao board of tourism moment if I’ve ever seen one. An exorbitant fee was then agreed on but not to be paid until tomorrow when our bikes were safely there in one piece in the morning.

    Our crack team of hired security agents took up their posts posing as U.S. Secret Service agent’s protecting their prize. In other words four guys sat near our bikes and got boozed all night. Unfortunately they being positioned 8 feet below our wooden slat floor meant we all got to listen to boozed Lao hill tribe men talking and singing all night long so no sleep for us.

    We awoke and luckily no invading neighboring villages were successful at pilfering our bikes. No doubt due to the extreme diligence that only can be cultivated through copious quantities of Lao whiskey. Here we've paid off the village blackmailers for their security and food/lodging.

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    We would leave this village with mixed feelings. At first, so enthralled with their generosity and kindness, combined with their warmth and friendliness, only to be tainted by the cheap blackmail scam. Sad but true.

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    Onward through the fog to see what’s next down the road.
    [/img]
     
  26. Lightemup

    Lightemup Ol'Timer

    Great read, thanks.

    Keep it coming.
     

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