Vientianne - Pakse - Khammoune - Vientianne: 1st Tour

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by ASBO-Holidays, Oct 2, 2009.

  1. ASBO-Holidays

    ASBO-Holidays Member

    This is my first post on the board and my first road trip on a bike away. Planning to do another in N Thailand in a while so thought I'd share my first one.

    I pick up my Honda Baja 250 and my GT Rider map of Laos and get set to head to Tha Kaek from Vientianne for the first leg. I remember the bus took 6 hours but didn't realise it was just short of 400km. 2km after getting the bike the gears are buggared - it will change up but not down. I manage to crawl back to the shop where the guy gets the angle grinder out and 10 minutes later I'm good to go. I take it for a test spin around the block and again the gears are no good. I leave the bike with the guy and come back in 30 minutes and this time all is good. So I hit the road and almost manage to get lost on the outskirts of Vientianne with locals giving me wrong directions. Maybe it was just my understanding or lack of knowledge of the Laos language. Finally the traffic eases and I'm making good speed, well I think I am cos the speedo doesn't work.


    3 hours later I'm still not half way to Tha Kaek so I stop in Pakxan for some food and meet a dutch couple in a random restaurant. A quick bite to eat and I'm away again. It starts to get dark with 100km to go so I stop, refuel and within 2 minutes I have 5 people around me and the bike all asking questions, asking if I want to hold their child and even if I know how to setup satellite TV. I wave the people good bye and get the lights on only to find out that low beam doesn't work, so for the next 100km on I get lorries and cars blinding me with their full beam - I'd rather that than have no lights on!!


    I arrive in Tha Kaek at the travellodge and the bike stops just before rolling into the guesthouse on the main road. I can't get it started again so push it the rest of the way. There's an English couple who are doing the loop in the morning so I ask if I can join them. What I don't realise is they've never been on motorbikes before. So next morning we set off doing about 3km an hour and after 15 minutes the lady falls off!! So I'm now on my own for the next three days. I take in a couple of caves and the second one has a budda inside - I'm not religious but I give the big man a 1000kip and ask for my safe passage around the loop.


    The road starts to get worse with huge potholes and dust spread everywhere by the numerous lorries ploughing past. The small local villages on route seem joyed to see falang and the kids run along side shouting "saybaydee!!" Everything is going great until I realise my language guide and maps have fallen off the bike and I drive right through the first day stop so I decide to power on to Lak Xao a further 150km on.


    The roads get worse - think Koh Pan gyang hills with camdodian road quality with desert dust. I come up over the brow of a hill, the road slowly decends and banks left. As I near the bottom the gravel on the side catches the wheel pulling me towards the ditch and a tree. The bike goes from underneath me and I bounce off the gravel. I'm glad I had the prayer to buddha because I was about 100km to the nearest town and the best hospital around was probably across the Vietnam border. sore and bruised, I had no choice but to trail the bike out of the ditch and get back on again, this time doing about 5km/h until I was off the mountain. I managed to make it to a guesthouse before dark and promptly ordered a beer. The owners didn't speak a bit of English and I realise the only Laos phrases are in my Lonely Planet - no wait, its fallen off the bike after the first cave!! With my best sign language they don't understand that I want food so I have an other few beers and go pass out.


    Next morning I head off to Ban Na Hin to go to Kong Lor. I can't get the bike started cause my legs are hurting. After 20 minutes I realise the lights are on, so one kick later and I'm away. Its bloody freezing driving in the mist and I'm glad when I get over the mountains and the Kammoune province is in sight. I meet the same dutch couple I met 2 days before, waiting for the bus to Kong Lor. I follow the bus for a short while but its too slow so I power on and plan to meet them at the village. The road quickly detiorates again so I slow a good bit really just to admire the views.


    I arrive at Kong Lor village with kids running out shouting "Falang, falang!" I'm quickly ushered off to meet the village Niban (chief), one eye as he's known as in these parts. I try to explain I want to wait for the dutch couple but I'm put in my own boat and off I go.


    I was thinking of staying in one of the homestays in Kong Lor village but I'm loving the bike so I decide to get back to Ban Na Hin. I find a guesthouse run by a guy from Portsmouth and I'm the only one staying so I join him and his wife for diner and I'm given some great insights into what will he happening in the area in a few years - just one more reason to come back to Laos for another tour.


    Next morning I decide to check out the waterfall there and I'm told be careful not to get lost. I pass a group of kids on the bike and after walking up the river - easiest way not to get lost - they meet me near the top. I take one picture and all of a sudden they are all jumping off the rocks into a pool no deeper than 7 foot. I leave them to it and scramble back down the river and by the time I get back to the bike all the kids are waiting for me!! I should have got them to show me the path down.


    I get on the road again having picked my stuff up and all thats left is to get back to Vientianne before dark. The bike trip has probably been the best thing I've done since leaving and will definitely leave more time for the next one
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  3. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Great report ASBO-Holidays.

    Congratulations on completing your first Laos trip. Looks like you enjoy it.

    And thanks for sharing your experiences there. Your a braver man than me riding on a Laos highway at night. :shock:

    How many days was the trip?

    If you do happen to get to Northern Thailand, give a me shout and we'll catch up for a beer.

    Cheers Rex
  4. ASBO-Holidays

    ASBO-Holidays Member

    Hey Rex,

    Cheers man. Was probably the best thing I did in 10 months of travelling SE Asia. The trip from Vientianne was 5 days but I missed an overnight stop and it would be an idea to break the trip from Vientianne to Pakse up with a night stop...You could do it in as little as 4 and stretch it out to 10!! Just depends on the pace you want to do and how many caves / waterfalls you stop at.

    Heading Chiang Mai direction mid March and will have 5 days to satisfy my need for a GT Tour!! Will be looking for advice in the not to distant future!!

    Cheers Gareth

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