5 WEEKS LAOS-return of the monkeys (part 4)


Feb 11, 2003
After returning to nong khiaw , spent another night at "sunset" g/h and left the next morning in the rain(glad i brought my waterproof trousers)

NONG KHIAW - VIANG KHAM : (57KM) 1st 32kms good asphalt road , flowing through great views and friendly hmong villages.
Stopped at a few hmong villages, celebrating new year, all in traditional garb. Got roped in to some courtship ball throwing games much to the amusement of everyone , especialy the gigiling girls i was facing.(may have ended up with a couple of wives after this, so if you pass and an irrate looking father trying to stop you on your bike, tell him i just popped out to get a pint of milk!)
The road condition slowly deteriates, with more broken asphalt and pot holes , but not too bad.
Stopped for a ciggy break at viang kham.

VIANG KHAM - MUANG HIAM : (111kms) Road not in too bad condition , except the potholes. The road through phou loei national park has some good scenery and a real jungle feel, but the road does have odd mud sections and was very wet (something to do with the rain i expect) and again FREEZING COLD!
Saw a small child playing with 3 mice tied onto string and being swung around on the end of a stick (highly amusing, not sure if it will take off in toys r us )
The last 40kms road deteriates further , with more dirt sections and loose gravel.
Altogether godd views and long sweeping roads, an enjoyable ride. (without the cold and wet)

MUANG HIAM - HOUA PHOU : (59 KMS) (2 hrs) After a fairly miserable , cold night in a dingy g/h (a couple of g/h's here but not of great standard . a little cell with a light and only the foe , looked worth eating , but there is always beer lao to brighten up the night.)
the road is a left turn out of town up a steep hill (the road does carry on straght , so be careful)
a terrible rocky dirt road , with some fairly steep inclines and a lot of mist and you guessed it feckin cold!
some large deceptive puddles that turned out too be swimming pools, along the way.
A very hard , painful , slow road , realy knocks your bones about the place. (watch out for the bow and arrowed armed hill tribe malitia)

HOUA PHOU - XAM NUEA (92kms) (3 hrs) - This would have been a great road to ride if it wasn't getting dark and i hadn't have felt as cold as i have have ever felt on a bike in Asia.
On the return leg i appritiated how good this road is.
it has recently been constructed and is near perfect with some stunning views. Great sweeping up hills and down hills.
Just before coming into xam nuea amazing views of the place from high up on the mountain road.
One of my favourite roads on the trip.
Is named in a friends dubious guide book as the rat central of Laos(has the author never been too pak beng?) but glad too report i didn't see a single rat in the 3 days / 2 nights here!
Plenty of g/h , stayed at the " lao houn " hotel, friendly big place with nice rooms and supposed hot water.
Some good resteraunts and friendly singing nong shops.(a good market aswell)
A friendly atmosphere here. i'll leave you to guess the temperature!

XAM NUA - VIENG XAI : (27KMS) Very quick road if your in a hurry. i took it slow and enjoyed the excelent views of limestone cliffs and villages with various war debris making fences/ doors etc.
Road condition is great.
veng xai is a great little place to visit (there is a large gate on the right of the road as the entrance , easy too fly straght past. As i did!)
some great caves to visit , where the communist leadrs succesfully hid , along with most of the surrounding villages.
continuous bombing in the area is obvious too see , but the homes (complete with a theatre ) in the caves are worth a visit (sorry starting to sound like a guide book)
Stayed at the viang xai g/h in perfect setting by the cliffs(a bit hard to find) a large white building with no signs.
Stayed with 30 Lao women (another dream fullfilled) having a 2 day meeting from the xam nuea and the surrounding areas. Great laugh with the mainly middle aged crew, shower hour was interesting aswell.(and the obligitory match making going on)

Phonsavan next destination.................