Chiang Khong - Nong Khai - Nakhon Phanom & return: just a ride for fun.

DavidFL

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From a Proposal for a couple of rides....The Legends 1148 Ride plus a Beer 'n a Baguette in NKP

Covid-19 lockdowns & interprovincial travel restrictions may have created a doom and gloom atmosphere for some, but luckily for me living in Chiang Khong / Chiang Rai it didn't seem as bad, and well time was flying by but with the rains starting to come.
My recently purchased V-strom is pretty much set up now just as I like it, except for one more accessory, but that's another story; so why not take on the challenge alone & just go riding to escape the covid cabin fever.

Non-stop to Nakhon Phanom and then a meander back along the Khong I thought.

Packed up the night before & up at 5.30AM, I was on the road nice & early, astounding for me at 5,45am.

Chiang Khong - Uttaradit

Paradise road 6.03AM
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My preferred route quickest route to Phayao is via R1290 (Paradise Road), then R1063 the new bypass into Chiang Rai airport, then the western bypass R131 & you're back on R1 & the 4-lane dual carriageway heading south to Phayao & beyond.
The distance maybe longer than going south on R1020 to Thoeng & then Chiang Kham - Chun - Phayao, but it is an easier, safer, faster ride overall, with less traffic & less villages to worry about.

Breakfast was a 7-11 snack meal at the Den Chai PTT / 77-11 @ 10.15 am. 369 kms down.
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A serious GTR snack brekky & fuel for the morning.
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Fueled up & tummy full, next stop was an unwanted, forced one, at the police checkpoint north of Uttaradit.
Nicked for speeding 129kph in the 90kph zone on the 4-lane dual carriageway.
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All a bit of a joke I thought. A 4-lane dual carriageway & dead straight, but a 90KPH speed limit.
95% of vehicles were getting a ticket.
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The smiling happy policeman politely took my money, telling me that they had the speed trap set up since Songkran.
Obviously a brilliant revenue raising exercise I thought.
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To their credit there are warning posters up north & south of Uttaradit, but on the way back I thought damn it. I'm not sitting on a boring 90KPH on a clear 4-lane dual carriage way getting hot & ran the gauntlet at 150KPH, thinking if you're going to get nicked make it worthwhile, for no matter what speed it is the fine remains the same. And on the return journey there were no speed cameras or police as I passed by - it was probably too hot to be out here I thought.
My outward morning time was 10.42am.
The return inbound time was 2.53pm.

Uttaradit - Loei

43 kms further south on R11 turn left for a fabulous run through to Dan Sai & Loei.
R1246 is the route number, then its R1143 into Chat Trakarn & Nakhon Thai, then R2013 to Dan Sai.
A lot of guys may head further south down R11 from Uttaradit to Phitsanulok & then take R12, but the Chat Trakarn - Nakhon Thai - Da Sai route is a brilliant riders way & one of my favourite rides!

It's 52 kms across to Chat Trakarn, starting to warn up fast, so the PTT Amazon / 7-11 at Chat Trakarn is a welcome refreshment stop.
502 kms are down with 6hrs 15 travel time & average speed of 80KPH.

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11.45 is the arrival time & it's just a quick splash & dash to be back on the road at 12.05.

Dan Sai is next 45 kms away & time for lunch, plus to check up with some old Phi Ta Khon friends.
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For Phi Ta Khon fans, there is no date yet for this years event & no plan to hold a full on party festival.
There will be a low key locals only event, with just the traditional ceremonies. No parades or "dancing girls" / Phi Ta Khon ghosts.

Dans Sai distance covered = 589 kms.
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To be continued....
 
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GTO

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Thanks for the speed trap heads up!
Bye Loei, bye Loei, bye Loei!!!!
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DavidFL

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Back on the case distracted with a few rides.....

Dan Sai - Loei = 90 kms.

Another favourite ride through the mountains, if it is not raining.
But you can't win them all & it it drizzled with wet roads on the descent from Phu Rua into Loei
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Departure time from Dan Sai after lunch was 1.45pm
Arrival time in Loei for a lengthy break was 3.10PM.

I had to detour into Loei city for some banking, then hooked up with an old mate Ken Pai & his missus, from the ex Corazon Barista Cafe in Pai.
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Ken & I go back a long way from his early music days playing with Chart Bebop in Pai, & it was briliant to discuss the good ol days & the "future of Pai."
Would it ever worth moving back there? And the answer is no, Pai has had it's day in the sun! Ken is optimistic that in the future he may start a small music cafe in Loei to jam & play the blues with his musician mates.

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DavidFL

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Loei to Nong Khai was the last stage for day 1.

Loei - Chiang Khan - Nong Khai - 243 kms

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Departure time from Ken's at Loei was 3.55PM.
There is a shorter option from Loei to Nong Khai, instead of going up to Chiang Khan & onto Nong Khai along the river, but I just love riding R211 & the Mekong downstream from Chiang Khan, so took the longer scenic route.

The fabulous Nong Pla Buek viewpoint on R211, downstream from Chiang Khan & upstream from Sang Khom.
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A quick fuel stop at Chiang Khan @ 4.19 Pm saw a nice rest stop - 25 minutes required in Sang Khom @ 6.00PM at the delightful Bouthong Restaurant.
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From Sang Khom the road gets a bit more busy, the closer you get to Nong Khai.
You hit R2 Udon - Nong Khai & it's fast blast straight into Nong Khai on the super / dual carriageway.

I wasn't sure where I could stay in Nong Khai - which places would be open, due to a covid lockdown, but wasn't too worried.
The Pantawee that used to be an old GTR favourite has finally closed it doors, but as luck would have it once I turned onto the river soi, there immediately was a hotel in front of - the Mekong Guesthouse.
They were just putting the shutters up as lung rocked up into the car park, feeling somewhat shattered from the heat & ride.
I yelled out do you have a room? Yes was the answer. How much, was my next question. 500/600 was the reply. Does it have aircon? Yes it does. OK I will take it.
Zero questions asked where I had come from, or where was I going.
I presented my pink temporary Thai ID card, paid my money, checked in, turned on the aircon & crashed out.
Day 1 was done.

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13 hours on the road, & in some searing 40+ heat in the afternoon.
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Note there is a slight distance discrepancy, as I cleaned the track with u turns & petrol stops etc in the google earth view.

Hanging out in Nong Khai a bit to come, then finally the big ride NKP - Chiang Khong non-stop to home.
 
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DavidFL

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Nong Khai hanging out for a few days in the heat.

The hotel for the night on arrival was an oldie - the Mekong Guesthouse
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an old classic wooden building with river frontage

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But as much as I often like these classic old wooden hotels, I would give it a miss next time, unless I was too tired again, to look elsewhere.

Hotel # 2 was the Baan Sabai Rim Khong.
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More upmarket, but worth the money on the nights I was there.
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It's been a while since I was in glorious Nong Khai, but with the covid lockdown, well it's not that exciting.
The main Nong Khai Mekong market was deserted
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The river front without the crowds did indeed look resplendent in the heat.
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but damn it was scorching in the afternoon with 40 celsius.
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The display of Mekong fish statues along the river was a brilliant idea I thought, a reminder of the Khong's aquatic wealth & would even be a good idea for Chiang Khong too!
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Macky's Kitchen was a gem of a find in Nong Khai for brekky, lunch & dinner over the new few days.
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Great friendly happy gals & nice tasty, fresh food

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An excellent Laad Na for the Thai division.
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The highlight of a few nights in Nong Khai though, was undoubtedly an evening imbibing, eating & chatting with mate Peter & his lovely wife Panita at their new home on the outskirts of Nong Khai.
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The evening started with a ceremonial Beer Lao & quickly progressed to the good stuff.
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It was a superb evening, although Peter may regret opening a bottle of Jamneson's while lung GTR is around.
Lung & friend left at 3.15AM I believe it was, with just a few drops of Jameson's left.

Many thanks Peter & Panita. You are both excellent hosts, , dear friends plus soul mates for Laos & other adventures we have shared.

NKP next.
 

DavidFL

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Nong Khai - Nakhon Phanom = 296 kms

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A short ride & a leisurely departure after a few late night fermented coffees in Nong Khai @ Chill Cafe.
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Departure time from Nong Khai was 11.30Am & arrival time in NKP was a sedate 2.55PM

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In NKP I headed straight for the baguette bus & topped up with some nourishment.
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3 Baguettes. Best on the Thai side of the Khong @ only 35 baht each.

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Hot it was, but half my mission was accomplished with these 3 baguettes, as part of the original plan was for it to be a ride for a beer 'n a baguette in NKP. Well there was no beer due to the covid lock down, but I was well satisfied, because I almost didn't make with a little incident along the way, en route to Udon......
I occasionally have trouble with my specs fitting under the helmet, where they don't quite sit right and your centre of focus is a bit out, leaving your vision a bit blurred & not pin sharp. You get to fiddle with your specs a bit as you ride & eventually they sit correctly on your nose & your vision is pin sharp. But not this day. In the far distance at the end of vision I noticed some flashing red lights, off to the side of the road, so I thought. Due to the distance it did a while to approach & I noted that the lights had maintained their position, slightly off to the right. Must be some rescue vehicles or something parked beside the road I thought & carried on along the dual carriageway. The cars in the slow lane I was overtaking, suddenly slowed to a crawl & then a stop, but my lane was still clear ahead? And then I saw it all clearly - the bloody railway line, with the boom gate lights flashing & down came the gate! Oh shit. I'm not going to be able to stop in time, slammed on the brakes, got a bit a bit locked up & then the alert signal man must have seen me in trouble, flicked up the boom gate & I got back on the gas to whizz nervously through. How good was that , pure luck I thought. Time to stop and readjust my specs properly...