Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 6 Xam Nua - Nong Khiew

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. #1 DavidFL, Apr 19, 2010
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
    Continued from

    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 1
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 2 Sapa
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 3 Bac Ha
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 4 Hanoi
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 5 Hanoi - Xam Nua

    DAY 11 XAM NUA - NONG KHIEW. 25 MARCH 2010.

    Unbelievably day 10 from Mai Chau - Xam Nua had been one of hardest days (for me), due to heat knocking me around. We all felt it with 40+ celsius temps & a slowish pace on the tight narrow winding bumpy roads. Weary then, I think we all slept like babes in Xam Nua that night, totally oblivious to anything else going on in the world.

    Rise & shine the next morning was 7.30 AM, breakfast & on the road at 8.30AM. During the night our bikes were locked up inside the hotel lobby, & it was with great disbelief walking outside the hotel that we were greeted with this..

    Yep, that's right fog & misty rain. The temp on my Trailtech Vapour gauge showed 17 Celsius! What a change in the weather & what a sleep I thought. :shock: :shock:



    This necessitated a slight delay in departure while some of us unpacked our wet weather gear. Previously stashed away in the bottom of our bags.

    Departure time was 9AM....

    Loaded up, & fueling up in Xam Nua.

    Then it was time to hit the road; & we split up - Joe & Armin went ahead for Phonsavan & The Plain of Jars, while Silverhawk & I headed for Nong Khiew.

    The way ahead
    and what a contrast to the previous day's heat. It was slow going with poor visibility & speeds were way way down. But it was C-O-O-L!

    Incredibly the ride that day alternated between fog & misty rain with heat, fires & smoke. Almost every time you crossed a ridge line the weather changed.
    One section fog & rain, then next section fires & smoke! :eek: :eek:

    The reason for fires & smoke

    A nice bit of clean road & greenery

    Then scarred scenery from fires

    A smoky section, not fog!


    A river & a bit of nice forest

    Happy kids



    The "Phou Lao" city junction.
    Turn left to Phonsavan, or straight onto Nong Khiew.

    The way back to Xam Nua.

    The way ahead to Nong Khiew


    Local maidens

    and a happy family

    This road is one of the most beautiful rides in Northern Laos for forest cover & scenery.

    passing through the Nam Et - Phou Loeuy Protected area

    how to protect the forest

    There was however a huge fire burning through the park & our lunch stop was a smoky one with lots of ash coming down from the raging fire.

    The roadside diner

    and lunch for David Unk

    No tiger meat today, sir


    Taking a (photo) break in a wonderful striped Hmong village


    Silverhawk still kitted up
    note the pants & rain jacket.

    The striped Hmong kit

    Just a regular Hmong

    As the day wore on I got even more weary, still suffering from the previous day's heat (?) & the last 10 kms into NK I felt like a break, but didn't want to under go the pain of getting off & back on the loaded up AT, such was my state. :shh: :shh:

    I arrived in Nong Khiew & checked into my resort bungalow
    & something that Captn Slash would be proud of.

    Another day was done & I was feeling my "youth." :oops:

    Departure from Xam Nua was 9.00AM & arrival in NK was 5.45 PM.

    Chiang Mai – Hanoi Back Part 7 Nong Khiew – Chiang Mai
  2. When we awoke in Xam Nua and prepared to hit the road, I did feel a little like my leash had finally been removed (no offense guys). I love riding in Laos and I am fairly familiar with most areas. I had told the group prior that I was cutting across Laos Highway 1c, south of Xam Nua, to Nong Kiew. The others had business in Luang Phrabang and were headed there via Phonsavan.

    I had ridden the 1C last in 2005 and it was a bit challenging. It has since been paved it's entire length and I wanted to give it a try. Never having ridden it before, David decided to join me and then ride Nong Kiew to Luang Phrabang. It's a great ride with many twists and turns but not meant for high speed. There are many ethnic villages along the way and, at the right time of year, very beautiful. This time of year, conditions changed dramatically and I wouldn't call it beautiful, but still a nice ride.



    It can feel a little desolate at times.

    After the half way point of Vang Nguen, where we had lunch and refueled,


    We didn't expect to see a Fino here.

    I rode on ahead while David attempted to GPS almost every village and hamlet along the way. :lol:
    I waited for David to arrive around sunset at a Nong Kiew. Nong Kiew is one of my favorite destinations in Laos and I did a report on it in the post
    Laos the EZ Way

    I checked into the Nong Kiau Riverside Resort and decided to relax for a couple days and attend to laundry and the motorcycle.

    After two nights in Nong Kiew I was relaxed and ready to head home. I left NK at 8:30AM and rode at a steady, but not really fast pace. Highway 13 to Oudomxay is broken asphalt and a rough in places, but still not too bad.
    These guys were headed my way in a group of 4 bikes carrying kit and extra fuel. :thumbup:

    My plan was to spend the night in Pak Beng (approx 200km) and then back to Thailand the next day.

    Turning onto the 2W approximately 8km east of Oudomxai, it was racetrack surface.

    I arrived in Pak Beng shortly after lunch time and decided to keep on going. At Pak Beng I took the new road under construction to the Mekong ferry and then on to Mueang Nguem border crossing. The 10km from Pak Beng to the ferry looked like something from Dante's Inferno.


    From the Ferry onward, it was smooth sailing to the border. I crossed without a problem or delay (although 8 tour vans arrived just after me).

    BackDoorPhil has more on the actual border crossing here

    With the current road conditions from Huay Xai to Oudomxai, I believe this may be the best route in and out of Laos at the moment. I pressed on with a 7-11 break in Puea and still had time to make Nan. I called David as I ate Italian at DaDario's in Nan at about 5:30 after checking in to the Devaraj. One day ride from Nong Kiew to Nan. Nice! :yawn:

    As anti climatic as it sounds, the next day I was home in Chiang Mai, late afternoon. Quite an adventure is an understatement.

    A big thanks to Armin for all he did to organize this trip, and "cheers" to my riding mates for a great time.
  3. Hi Dave, thanks for the great report, the pics and all the details about the roads...That gives me aclearer picture.
    Still feel I want to do it myself. But maybe choose a different time of year - the hot & dry season you had to deal with seems not the best timing. What would you suggest ?? November/December or ?? Cheers....RC Peter
  4. Sure the best time to ride here is always after the rainy season when the countryside is lush, green & clean. But dirt roads maybe a challenge if you're not looking for them, but encounter them.
    You need good local knowledge to get it right.
  5. Hi Dave,
    thanks for the reply.
    So which is the best moth for the tour, in your opinion ?
    Since we want to run the tour with our "street touring bikes" like the Kawasaki ER6-n , do you think that there is a enjoyable routing through Laos and Vietnam, which is possible to do next year already ???
    We do "any terrain" with our Enfield Bullets since many years in abit of gravel and mud, sand and dust is not the problem.
    We just need good profile tyres..
    Cheers, Peter

Share This Page