The wrong way round

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Snail, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. Snail

    Snail Ol'Timer

    After several recent trips to the North of Laos it was time to head south for a look around before departing this part of the world. After some lengthy negotiations I managed to secure 2 D-trackers from a rental shop here in Chiang Mai with written permission to take them out of the country and as my better half was flying into Bangkok I arranged to get myself and both bikes on the overnight train to Bangkok. Arrived in Bkk at 0645 and after unloading both bikes, parking one in the carpark, I then rode the first bike out to the hotel I’d booked near the new airport.
    After a taxi trip back into town to get the second bike I had the bulk of the day to run around Bkk. The D tracker is a great little bike for the city, fast enough to keep ahead of the traffic, (just) narrow enough to get between the lanes of traffic and nimble enough to escape angry police for (apparently) being in the wrong lane. As I didn’t stop to inquire I’m not exactly sure why they seemed so desperate to chat about! Headed back out to the hotel,
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    then took a free hotel shuttle bus to and from the airport to pick my better half up.
    After a good sleep and rather bad breakfast we were ready to escape Bangkok,
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    a very easy ride following Lat Krabang rd until we got to the 304, hung a left and followed it up to south of Korat before turning right onto the 24 through to Kantharalak
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    where we spent the first night. 600km’s of mostly flat straight roads for the first day was enough on these machines.
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    Following day we headed to the Chong Mek border crossing.
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    After explaining that the bikes were rental bikes and producing all the paperwork I had prepared the border officials began the rather slow procedure of processing the documents but it wasn’t any drama. They seemed satisfied that we weren’t trying to steal the bikes or anything and about 35 minutes later we went through the same process entering Laos, again with very few questions. We were on the road to Pakse by 1530hrs
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    arriving just in time to check into a hotel, get changed and head down to the river for a sunset beer, or two.
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    From here we headed south
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    down to the Cambodian border
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    Not a lot to see here!
    Stopped to see the Mekong rapids
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    Late afternoon headed a bit further North to cross the river and spend the night in Don Kong, the main island here.
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    After sorting out a place to stay we rode the few km’s across the island for more beers at sunset
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    Rather than taking a boat from here down the river to see the dolphins and the old French railway we decided to cross back over the river and back track by road rather than sit in boats for 4 hours!
    After a short ride southwards it was back into a boat again (without the bikes this time) for the 25 minute trip over to Don Khon island
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    to see the remains of the old French built railway used for transporting good across the border.
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    Interesting to see and seemed to be a number of places to stay had we had enough time. Sadly not the case so back into the boat carefully avoiding the ferocious security gaurd on the boat next to us!
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    Next stop was further south and required riding back just past the customs checkpoint at the border to here,
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    taking a 20 min boat trip up the river to an ‘island’, a few square metres of rock in the middle of the river, then waiting. It wasn’t long before we heard the dolphin’s as they surfaced for air but we never saw much more that ripples in the water and the occasional glimpse of the top of a head. Oh well, better than nothing! Obviously no pictures either!
    Taking the extra time here meant we only got back on the road at 1740 hrs and did most of the ride back to Pakse in the dark And missed ours beers at sunset L. Not a problem really and the lights on the bikes were surprisingly good so we got back up to Pakse in reasonable time.
    Next morning we backtracked once again (only 30 km’s) and took the boat across the river to visit Wat Puu.
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    Worth visiting but is a longish hot walk to see all levels of the remains.
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    Easy ride alongside the river to get there and back though! Made the final river crossing by boat
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    before heading north to Savannakhet for the night, again arriving shortly after dark so only beer and food with no sunset.
    Running slightly short on time by now we headed for Vientiane the next morning and actually passed through a tiny bit of 'jungle' that had somehow survived on the main road North.
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    Stopped for petrol and a snack at a promising looking gas station and while the petrol was plentiful could say the same for the flashy looking start shop
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    Took a short 80 km side trip up the number 8 highway to view the limestone mountains there.
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    Unfortunately my photographic skills show nothing at all of how impressive it really is….well worth the look.
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    Rather boring riding once back on the 13 highway to Vientiane although I was surprised how much better than the KLX the D Trackers were since they supposedly have the same engine. We cruised along between 100 and 115 kph no problem at all.
    Spent the next day in town as I had to wait for a visa. Exited the following day after collecting my passport at 1340 hrs. Very easy and no drama at all(except for finding room for the 2 dozen cans of beer Lao purchased at the border) as was the entry back into Thailand and we were at a gas station just south of Nong Khai by 1410 hrs filling the bikes up and having a drink before heading to Chiang Mai.
    Took a little longer than planned due to a small mishap on wet greasy roads between Wang Sappung and Phu Ruea. We had taken a minor road (which cuts about 30 km’s off the trip) instead of going up through Loei and back down again and it began to rain a little. I couldn’t remember all the turns and ended up getting slightly geographically embarrassed so stopped to look at the map. After a short discussion we turned back and 30 metres later no sign of anyone in the mirror. Turned back and to my horror all I saw was this,
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    and no sign of my better half. She had lost control of the bike on the greasy road, had managed to stay upright through the wet grass on the side of the road and somehow drop the bike with virtually no damage then launch herself off the bike, clearing 1.5 metre high concrete wall and land quite hard on her back. Thankfully she was only rather winded (it seemed) so after a 20 minute recovery period, a look over the bike (found a dent in the tank and a small crack in the plastic ) we were back on the road! So lucky.
    The pace was somewhat slower after this even after the roads dried out so eventually got in to Chiang Mai at 0200hrs stopping for a bowl of noodles in town before heading home for some much needed sleep.
    Covered a total of 2,500 km's in the time we had and thoroughly recommend these bikes! Economical, about the same performance as an XR250 but better brakes and suspension and far more stable on the highway.
     
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  3. SilverhawkUSA

    SilverhawkUSA Ol'Timer

    Very nice report. I am glad Naomi is OK. Even with the one mishap she deserves a lot of credit for the successful riding she has done with you in Laos.
     
  4. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    David, suuuper report !! So the D-Tracker would be the bike to go for for such trips ain't they ?? Luckily your better half didn't injure herself on that one !! 2.500 kms how did your back feel once arriving in CNX ? Cheers, Franz
     
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Snail
    Good one alright. You certainly know how to put in the long kms.

    I hope your "better half" has recovered well by now from her little tumble - pretty impressive really going over that wall & not breaking any bones? I wonder what she said in Japanese when she got up & what brand of body armour / jacket was she wearing?
    For her to continue on then & complete the remaining 400 kms to Chiang Mai is bloody impressive. Naomi's a bit of champion there!

    Note that you claimed the D-Tracker is a superior bike to the KLX, but how do you rate the seat(s)?
    I think that I too would be inclined to go for a D-Tracker over a KLX. It is a sexy looking bike & probably a lot more useful. You can always rent a KLX, beat it up in the bush & then take it back to the rental shop for them to fix.

    It doesn't look like Vat Phu has changed much the last few years. The last time I was down an Italian archaelogoical team was supposed to be starting restoration?

    If you did it again on the D-Trackers what would you do different?

    Thanks for a Snail contribution. Have you got any more photos to splash around?
     
  6. Ally

    Ally Ol'Timer

    Snail & Naomi, what a great trip & thanks for sharing, even the down side of it with us.

    Hope your back is ok now Naomi.

    Ally
     
  7. scotty007

    scotty007 Ol'Timer

    Excellent stuff David, glad Naomi is OK!
     

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