Chiang Mai – Xam Nua Return

Jurgen

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Oct 23, 2009
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We are lucky to have you scouting the places ... and (as I have a fading memory) they will of course all be on the next GTR-Laos map :)
 

DavidFL

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PAK BENG - LUANG PRABANG
23 December 2010

324 kms.
Ex Pak Beng: 9.15 am
Arrive Luang Prabang: 5.15pm
Average speed: 40 kph.

The kids on R2W Pak Beng - Oudom Xai

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My favourite bike & people photo for the whole trip

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check out the varied expressions on all the faces.

Oudom Xai - Pak Mong

Another fave happy snap

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a group of happy kids playfully "walking the branches down the road."

Now R13N from Oudom Xai - Pak Mong sucks for most people & I agree.
The road is a mixture of dirt & asphalt. 50 metres of gravel & 100 metres of asphalt. But the asphalt generally has loose stone & gravel on it, so you can be skating through most corners if you are not careful.
It is not difficult, just tiring requiring constant concentration.
The blind corners are infinite & you never know what road surface you are going to be riding on around the next corner.
If the road was all bad dirt you would know what pace & gear to ride at, but not the way it is now.
It is good character building, & the trick is to just work 1 or 2 gears - 2nd & 3rd - nothing else.
For me 3rd gear seems to work best, just powering on & off gently from corner to corner.
You can get a nice rhythym going & not catch yourself out trying to ride too fast on the racing line.

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Looks ok, but encounter an oncoming vehicle on yourside of the road & it gets tricky real fast.

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A glorious golden view of the Nam Ou

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Noel Akers

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Aug 27, 2007
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Wow, excellent pics David....really capturing the essence of Laos. I am getting really itchy feet to back there again. Thanks for sharing the ride.
 

Auke

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Nov 10, 2003
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Jurgen;264380 wrote: Happy to follow your latest Laos trip David. I have similar pictures in my box (like the "oops" bus), from my November trip :)
Well, it looks like that the bus has been moved as I took a picture on the 1st of July when it was still standing on the road and caused a problem for the other traffic.

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Jurgen

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Happy kids and deep colours ... Pak Beng to Oudom Xai is one of my favorite links in the region. The houses are so close to the road that you feel like driving through the courtyard
 

ronwebb

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Jul 25, 2010
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Terrific photos - picture postcard especially the views around Nam Ou, many thanks.
Also a invaluable help in planning my Laos trip ie, a stop at the Tha Heua restaurant at Pak Beng
 

DavidFL

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LUANG PRABANG
23 - 28th December 2010.
& time to kick back in the evening after pounding the streets in the day time.
I always get trapped in LPQ &the original master plan was for 3 nights, maybe 4.
but it was 5 nights.

The Oudom Souk is my preferred place of stay in LPQ, & the Malaysian guys stayed here also.
They got in a day before me, after I'd rung ahead from Oudom Xai & booked them rooms to ensure they had rooms at this peak time of the year.
Again we had a nice time swapping tips & road notes. Meeting good guys on the road is always a pleasure & it is funny how you sometimes hit it off with some & not others; but these guys were great & an absolute pleasure to hang out with. I was also highly impressed that neither of the Hayabusa riders had come off on the Oudom Xai - Pak Mong road; which they agreed was much more demanding than the 20 kms of dirt on the Houei Xai - Luang Nam Tha road.

So it just goes to prove it normally isn't the bike that lets you down, but the rider.
Advice on road condition for Laos Trip

A breakfast stop with the Malaysian guys

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By the "Khong

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Nolanyusof

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with his Kawasaki Versys.
150,000 kms on the clock & still in perfect condition. Nothing wrong with the bike or any complaints! Everything works & nothing has failed so far.

Hayabusa1

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Hayabusa2

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In the fog by the boat landing

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The riders

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Luang Prabang was cool & foggy every morning.

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An amazing blue light evening over the Mekong

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An amazing orange sunset over the Mekong.

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Christmas day lunch at the Oudom Souk with the staff

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+ a real mixture of drinks - spy, beer & malt whisky. The girls drank it all, sometimes mixed together - kamikaze drinkers I thought; & some of them did not last the day out.

Luang Prabang at dusk

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Food stalls in the night market

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The Soudaphone, my fave restaurant by the Mekong in LPQ

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A GT Rider dinner at the Soudaphone

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a Lao curry, a Luang Prabang salad & some LPQ sausage.

The Malaysian guys were not the only riders that I met in LPQ.
A big surprise was Brendan BJ & his wife Aor

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from Chiang Mai. They rode Chiang Mai - Nan - Huay Kon - Pak Beng - Oudom Xai - Luang Prabang; two-up on BJ's ER6 & had no trouble. Just pace yourself, take your time & it is easy.

BJ & Aor it was brilliant sharing drinks & a chat beside the 'Khong in LPQ. I hope we can do it again soon.

More to come, but I'm off to the south & Pakxe tomorrow.
But it will get finished.
 
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BJ

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Aug 27, 2008
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Really enjoying the report David
It was great to catch up in Luang Prabang. What a beautiful place it is, we weren't expecting to see anything like that in Laos. One of the real gems of Asia.
The 3 days we had there weren't enough and looking forward to getting back there again.
As we arrived on the 26th the girls from the Audom Souk weren't lookingor feeling so good after your xmas day party. They did improve over the next few days we were there though and it was a great place to stay, close to most things.

Davids Birthday breakfast at the bakery 27/12/2010
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Hope to get a report up within the next couple of weeks. We're a bit busy after 2 months off.
Once again thanks to GT rider and its members reports for making our trip so easy.
 

DavidFL

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NONG KHIEW
28-29 December 2010.
Departed LPQ at 11.18AM
Arrived Nong Khiew 2.24PM.
A short leisurely ride north via Pak Ou.
149 kms. Average speed 48KPH.

Nong Khiew is arguably the most pristine spot in Northern Laos & the Nam Ou River with the majestic cliffs is the big attraction.

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Hanging out at the restaurants either side of the bridge taking photos seems to be a major pastime when you visit NK.

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Time for an evening bath in the river.

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Pristine & totally unspoilt it is.Doing the dishes beside the road....

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Dogs & ducks supervising

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Back on the bridge as the sun goes down

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Another day is done

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The CT is my fave restaurant in Nong Khiew & where I generally tend to hang out, taking photos.
 

DavidFL

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NONG KHIEW - VIENG THONG
29 December 2011.

One of the best "feel good rural back roads".

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An early start for me & it was cool.

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a nippy 13 celsius. (Ok it's cold for us locals, but not if you're from Europe.)

Trying to keep warm & have brekky at the same time.

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Morning fog on the Nam Ou

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Downtown Nong Khiew

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Downstream past the hospital & bus station is a newish upmarket resort. The Pha Xang Resort.

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well worth checking out if you're looking for something a little more upmarket + away from the "busy centre of downtown Nong Khiew." Room prices started @ US$40 a night I seem to recall.

A German motorcycle tour group, packed up & ready for departure.

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the jeep is now for sale.
https://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/threads/34203-Suzuki-Caribian-for-sale.

Nong Khiew - Vieng Thong is a super laid back gorgeous narrow hilly-steep & winding twisting motorbike road.

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A Lao village thamboon checkpoint raising money for the village temple.

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the villagers put a piece of string up across the road. You're supposed to stop & make a donation to the village for their temple. A delightful custom & often a lot of fun joking with the locals.
The gals lined up on one side.

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The men on the other

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everyone gets stopped & even the travelling Viet motorbike vendors are required to make a donation.

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Ride on..

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no complaints about the weather & amazing blue skies!

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On the outskirts of Vieng Thong city

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Ex Nong Khiew: 9.12AM
Arrived Vieng Thong: 3.30PM
Average speed: 28KPH.
 

DavidFL

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VIENG THONG
A small one-horse street town

Why stop in Vieng Thong?
Because it's the convenient half-way point between Nong Khiew & Xam Nua / Phonsavan.
You can do Nong Khiew - Xam Nua / Phonsavan in a day, but it is a long day & you need to get a god start & ride hard all day.
Doing this there is no time to look at the scenery, enjoy the people or take photos = slower is better.

Vieng Thong is also becoming popular as an eco-tourism base for treks promoted by the LNTA Lao tourist office.
http://www.ecotourismlaos.com/houaphan.htm

There's only two guesthouses in Vieng Thong: the Dok Champa & The Souksakhone.
The Souksakhone is the best.

Price 50,000 kip a night.
GPS Location: N20 05.054 E103 22.161

The view from the Souksakhone

at dusk in Vieng Thong there's not a great deal to do, except hang out in the local market place.

Play Boules

Smile for the farang

Eat

note the warm clothes worn in preparation for a cold night!

The "main" restaurant in Vieng Thong seems to be the one straight across the street from the guesthouse.

but as Moto-Rex advised in a somewhat long distance phone call "just have a look in the kitchen first."

I did, but still ordered dinner & ate

I had the "liquid squirts" for 3-days thereafter, although no stomach pain or discomfort.

On my trip through from Vietnam in March 2010
Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 6 Xam Nua - Nong Khiew

Silverhawk & I ate out by the petrol & bus station; & I would most definitely go there again to "wine & dine" rather than downtown at the joint I did. Now you know..

Of note too in Vieng Thong is that the power only runs from 6 or 7PM - 9PM in the evenings, plus 6AM - 8AM in the mornings.

The next morning was C-O-L-D. The Trail Tech thermometer on the bike showed 8 celsius at 7AM.

The morning view from the Souksakhone

not quite the same as the previous evening.

Off to school in the cold & fog

VIENG THONG - XAM NUA
30 DEcember 2011
 
Last edited:

DavidFL

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VIENG THONG
A small one-horse street town

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Why stop in Vieng Thong?
Because it's the convenient half-way point between Nong Khiew & Xam Nua / Phonsavan.
You can do Nong Khiew - Xam Nua / Phonsavan in a day, but it is a long day & you need to get a god start & ride hard all day.
Doing this there is no time to look at the scenery, enjoy the people or take photos = slower is better.

Vieng Thong is also becoming popular as an eco-tourism base for treks promoted by the LNTA Lao tourist office.
http://www.ecotourismlaos.com/houaphan.htm

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There's only two guesthouses in Vieng Thong: the Dok Champa & The Souksakhone.
The Souksakhone is the best.

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Price 50,000 kip a night.
GPS Location: N20 05.054 E103 22.161

The view from the Souksakhone

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at dusk in Vieng Thong there's not a great deal to do, except hang out in the local market place.

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Play Boules

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Smile for the farang

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Eat

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note the warm clothes worn in preparation for a cold night!

The "main" restaurant in Vieng Thong seems to be the one straight across the street from the guesthouse.

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but as Moto-Rex advised in a somewhat long distance phone call "just have a look in the kitchen first."

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I did, but still ordered dinner & ate

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I had the "liquid squirts" for 3-days thereafter, although no stomach pain or discomfort.

On my trip through from Vietnam in March 2010
Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 6 Xam Nua - Nong Khiew
Silverhawk & I ate out by the petrol & bus station; & I would most definitely go there again to "wine & dine" rather than downtown at the joint I did. Now you know..

Of note too in Vieng Thong is that the power only runs from 6 or 7PM - 9PM in the evenings, plus 6AM - 8AM in the mornings.

The next morning was C-O-L-D. The Trail Tech thermometer on the bike showed 8 celsius at 7AM.

The morning view from the Souksakhone

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not quite the same as the previous evening.

Off to school in the cold & fog

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and I too was off on me bike.......

VIENG THONG - XAM NUA
30 December 2011

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Up out of the fog & what a glorious day to be alive & riding.

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Its a tight narrow twisting road

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with superb views over the mountains

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This ride through the Nam Et - Phou Loei wildlife park is one of the best in Laos!

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not that you'd want to see any wild tigers "grazing beside the road." But they exist out there & the forest cover over the rolling ountains to the east & Vietnam border if fantastic.

Onto towards Xam Nua

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and civilization

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the way ahead through a village built on the side of the mountain

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This route is one of the better ones for friendly villagers, yet it is funny that sometimes when you stop you think you're onto a winner for photos & fun with the villagers & it does not work out.

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Other times you think it looks drab & nothing happens & you hit the jackpot.

I was not expecting much here,

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but stopped to take a peak at the weaving.

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This lady was a winner & one of the toughest Ive ever seen.

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Why?
A broken arm, self treated in the village with some twigs & herbs, plus a piece of plastic & string holding the "splint" all in place.

Onward

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Another wonderful village with kids

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A road hazard

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and why you need to keep your speed down, for they don't make noise coming road the bend to alert you in advance. Plough into a herd of buffaloes & it could get awfully messy.

Putting the new power lines in

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& I'm sure some dirt riders would not mind the job.

30KPH is supposed to be the speed limit through many villages

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The entrance to Houa Phan / Xam Nua city

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Xam Nua

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and it reminded me of Sapa in North Vietnam!

Ex Vieng Thong: 9.20AM
Arrive Xam Nua: 2.18PM
Average speed: 30KPH.
 
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DavidFL

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XAM NUA
31 December 2010.

Downtown, the dry market

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En route to the wet market

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The market, big new & clean.

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It was relatively cold (as Xam Nua always is) & there were some great characters rugged up in & around the market.

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The "butchers" section is always good

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Lottery vendor

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Seaweed

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Xam Nua is undergoing a boom, like many towns in Laos

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once the river embankment is complete & landscaped it should be quite a pretty town.

Riding safely home

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Xam Nua - Vieng Xai, a later afternoon excursion

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The elevation profile

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It's another narrow steep & winding road

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when it's so narrow the trucks don't leave much, if any room.

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The "tinsmith" village

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note the man above "carting" his kids home from their evening bath in a stream a few kms away.
I was amazed how many kms he pushed his 2 kids along in the cart. Dedication plus, & with just a towell wrapped around him.

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DavidFL

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VIENG XAI
31 December 2010

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Hot 'n dry

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and I need to time my Vieng Xai trips a lot better!

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Back to Xam Nua, at dusk

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New Year's eve it was, however Xam Nua was so cold I tucked up in bed by 8.45PM.
No worries I had BBC TV in the room & thought I'd just "chill out" watch the world's New Year Eves unroll on the tele right in front of me.
But not to be! At 9.15Pm Xam Nua suffered a massive city wide power failure. And the power was still off the next morning when I left town at 9AM.
 

DavidFL

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XAM NUA - PHONSAVAN
1st January 2011

& a belated happy new year...

and what a fantastic ride to start off 2011 with. Yippee!

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It was cold & foggy coming out of Xam Nua & up on the ridgeline.

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The sun comes out

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and you can see clearly now.

The power line trail

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great for dirt bikers & a bit of a hill climb!

The fog's cleared

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The road winds its way around the mountains, crossing ridge line after ridge line, hugging the sides of the mountain. In the shade the moisture lingers leaving damp wet patches on the road = keep your speed down.

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Numerous villages dot the roads & there are lots of small wood stacks beside the road.

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fuel for cooking &/or a warm fire at night

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After Phonsavan / Vieng Thong unction there is a fantastic descent / ascent to the Nam Neun river.

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The brush village

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some cool dudes

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doubly cool

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Gnod Lieng village

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DavidFL

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XAM NUA - PHONSAVAN Contd
1st January 2011

The road is a real beauty, tight steep narrow winding through the mountain. In the middle of no whereI came across a very small group of Hmong celebrating new year.
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The girls were stunning, dressed up in their best gear.

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Their size, or lack of it, was impressive

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Back on the road for the run down the hill into Phonsavan

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taking your pet pig out for a ride I thought.

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A bevy of cyclists

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Fueling up

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Flying down the road I spotted an old bomb casing beside the road, outside a house. Great photo I thought.

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I managed 1 quick snap & grandma came out.
A sweet little banter occured as I endeavoured to turn on the charm & seek a photo of the old lady with her house bomb.
The last exchange I never quite understood & she sauntered off around to the back of the house; somewhat grumpy with the pesky farang I thought.
I started to pack up & was about to mount my bike & ride off when she reappeared at the front & shouted out why I was leaving her now that she had put on her best blouse for the photo. Was leaving her in the lurch, bloody men?
I quickly dismounted & got my photos...

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Life's good I thought.
Another brilliant day on the road with wonderful people & super motorbike roads.
 

Moto-Rex

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Jan 5, 2008
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Yes life is good when on the road, particularly in the back blocks of Laos. Its a riders paradise, no sitting behind a computer, just the riding the bike, and taking in the endless parade of Laos life before you.
Some great costumes in the photos above David, and a ripper story of the elderly lady putting on her finest for an old AT rider.

Thanks for the great post mate.

Moto-Rex
 

DavidFL

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PHONSAVAN
1-2 January 2011

1ST JAN 2011
Ex Xam Nua 9.58am
Arrive Phonsavan 4.45pm
Average Speed 28kph

Phonsavan at dusk

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Sunset

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The day is done

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My breakfast & lunch spot
The Si Dao Heuan

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N19 27.011 E103 13.152
40 metres east of the Nice Guesthouse

Lunch at the Si Dao Heuan

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Phonsavan's a bit of a drab town. The old airstrip

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with a massive line up of cheap housing.

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being built for whom I never found out.

The old AT dwarfed by a logging truck

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Phonsavan looks so barren you have to wonder where do the logs come from? How faraway is it?

Phonsavan city in the day light.

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THE PLAIN OF JARS
Phonsavan's claim to fame, other than the bombing from the secret war.

Ron 2Wheels has is brilliant Plain of Jars trip report here if you want to read up & learn more.

Plus I also found this one
http://plainofjars.net/
that some of you will find interesting & worth following up on - who's going to download, read & review the book?

Some piccies from Site 1 at the Plain of Jars.

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The jars

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they are big

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gives a new meaning to a "Jar of Vegemite." How big is yours?

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Oops, someone dropped a bomb

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Pondering what the jars are all about = "who did it?"

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When, where, why were they made? I certainly don't have the answer, so if you've never been there - go take a look & see what you think.

Phonsavan & the Plain of Jars are well worth the ride & effort to get there.
http://www.ecotourismlaos.com/worldheritagesites.htm#plainofjars

Downtown Phonsavan city at dusk

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Logs away

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Looking for a place to stay in Phonsavan
https://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/threads/33418-Phonsavan-Accommodation
 

DavidFL

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PHONSAVAN - VANG VIENG
3 January 2011

Ex Phonsavan 9.10AM

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For some people a better road & ride than R13.

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Phou Khoun at the junction with R13 / R7

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is under going a massive face lift.
The roadside mountain top is being removed

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a car park & market place will eventually appear in it's place.

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Progress.

The old AT gets some attention from a group of happy Thais on holiday.

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I think it was the Bangkok number plate that sucked them in.

R13 Downhill towards Kasi

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Arrival time in Vang Vieng was 1.50PM.
Average speed 50KPH.
Ex Phonsavan 9.10AM.

It was hot so I decided to look around for a nicer guesthouse with easy access & parking.
Enter the Vilayvong

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Parking right outside the front door

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plus a room at ground level = no steps.
And the rooms are pretty nice

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After a kip & kick back in the room it was time for happy hour at the Ban Sabai Resort

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I love the Ban Sabai for the location & ambiance. The best in Vang Vieng I think. It's the sort of place I like to take happy go lucky for a romantic night & / or whatever...

The sunset / dusk view from Ban Sabai

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a perfect ending to another wonderful day riding Laos.

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DavidFL

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2wheels;265882 wrote: re Logging (from Radio Free Asia)
(PS Thanks for the kind words David. Enjoying reading your report; some great pics too. Khun Hmong rock!!!)

"Forestry Bribes Increasing

2010-01-27

More Lao forestry officials are taking bribes in exchange for illegal logging concessions.
Illegal-Logging-1-305.jpg
RFA
Illegally cut timber on its way to Vietnam, seized by Lao forestry officials in northern Houaphan province, Oct. 27, 2007.

BANGKOK—The number of forestry officials in Laos charged with taking bribes is increasing despite an ongoing crackdown, according to a top government lawyer.
Rangsy Sibounheuang, deputy chief public prosecutor, said logging companies in central Laos have been bribing officials to cut logs beyond their government-approved quotas.
“If a lumber company’s quota allows them to cut 1,000 cubic meters (35,300 cubic feet) of wood, they will cut 1,500 cubic meters (53,000 cubic feet) instead and then bribe the inspectors for the difference,” he said.
“This is happening primarily in Savannakhet and Khammuan provinces and the recipients of the bribes are mainly middle-level officials—we’ve convicted some of them already.”
But Rangsy Sibounheuang said the number of incidents involving bribery of forestry officials is slowing after two to three years of increases because stricter penalties are proving to be an effective deterrent to would-be offenders.
“[The bribery] is now decreasing because we have been giving out stiff penalties. If the incident is serious enough, it will merit jail time and fines,” he said, adding that penalties differ from case to case and also depend on the level of the official involved.
Rangsy Sibounheuang said that while the bribing of Lao forestry officials is largely perpetrated by logging companies, widescale illegal logging continues throughout Laos, including at the individual level.
“It’s not just companies, but also citizens without permits. Citizens continue to illegally cut logs in national forestry preserves as well as in national parks,” he said.
Logging remains a problem
Despite a number of new regulations regarding the timber industry, excessive logging remains a serious problem in Laos.
According to a recent World Bank report, a relatively low population density and moderate rate of natural resource exploitation compared with neighboring countries have allowed significant natural resources in Laos to survive.
But the report added that natural resources play a significant role in supporting rural livelihoods and contributing towards the national economy.
While Laos enjoys forest cover that is substantially higher than in surrounding countries, it is precisely this natural resource that attracts investment from abroad.
The report named timber and hydropower as the country’s primary exports, accounting for two-thirds of total export value.
“Forest cover has declined from 70 percent to 43 percent over the last 50 years, largely due to clearing of lowland forest for permanent agriculture and unsustainable logging,” the report said.
Forest cover shrinking
The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) says forest cover in Laos is currently shrinking by 0.6 percent a year.
“If no action is taken to change this trend, Lao’s forests will dwindle to 31 percent by 2020,” the wildlife and environmental protection organization said.
WWF called for strengthened management capacity for the country’s extensive national protected areas and protection forests, which encompass about 50 percent of national forest cover.
It said a wave of foreign investment from China, Thailand, and Vietnam is bringing economic growth and job opportunities to Laos but also increasing pressure on land and local communities who utilize the country’s natural resources.
The Lao government has targeted a total area of 500,000 hectares (1.24 million acres) of industrial tree plantations by 2020 for pulp export, part of insufficient land-use planning that is encroaching into local community boundaries and protected forest areas, WWF said.
In other cases, agricultural production is moving into protected forest areas leading to deforestation, wildlife trade and biodiversity loss.
Original reporting by Krongkran Koyanakkul for RFA’s Lao service. Lao service director: Viengsay Luangkhot. Translation by Viengsay Luangkhot. Executive producer: Susan Lavery. Written for the Web in English by Joshua Lipes. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.

Copyright © 1998-2011 Radio Free Asia. All rights reserved."

Nice report Ron.
This one
http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2011/03/04/china-and-the-mekong-region-beyond-the-territorial-trap/
is good for southern Laos.

and northern Laos
http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2011/02/11/the-internal-frontier-chinese-extraterritoriality-in-northern-laos/
 

DavidFL

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Vang Vieng
4 January 2011

From Travel Fish
Situated halfway down the long Vientiane to Luang Prabang highway, Vang Vieng has become (for better or worse) the pit stop of Laos. Surrounded by splendid karst scenery and overflowing with activities such as caving and tubing down the river, many weary travellers extend their stay here far longer than originally planned.

For many, Vang Vieng is a highlight of their trip to Laos. If your idea of an ideal night involves scoffing happy pizza and quaffing buckets of Lao-Lao and coke to a background of infinite friends episodes, then you're going to absolutely love this place. Vang Vieng has become where backpackers shamelessly indulge in western food, alcohol, drugs and, yes, American sitcoms.

The transformation of this once sleepy town into a backpacker circus is hard to overlook, and others see Vang Vieng as an example of tourism at its worst. While you'll probably still enjoy your stay — after all the scenery is spectacular — others push on to more interesting spots in Laos after only one night.

Vang Vieng is riddled with such an array of guesthouses (some of which can be booked online), restaurants and shops that it's hard to know what to do on arrival. Just about every shopfront on the main streets of this small but rapidly developing town caters to the tourist dollar. If you're looking for some genuine Lao culture, Vang Vieng is the wrong place.

The reason this tourist mecca has sprung up is the gorgeous Nam Song river and the magnificent karst mountains lining it. The imposing limestone structures rise up out of the land and run for kilometres, framing the rice fields and lazy river. Stunning at any hour, the mountains are particularly beautiful with the golden pink glow of sunset behind them, the perfect time to sit and have a drink at one of the plethora of riverside restaurants..
The scenery is indeed spectacular & it is hard not to take endless photos of the Nam Song & the karsts across the river.

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The best views I believe are from upstream at the north end of town from the Sunset guesthouse / Pha Souk restaurant. GPS Waypoint: N18 55.750 E102 26.884

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Downstream at the south end of town

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DavidFL

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VANG VIENG Contd

another couple of breakfast snaps from the Ban Sabai

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Actually the best views must now be from the hot air balloon service

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Yep that's right Vang Vieng now has hot air balloon rides.
Run by Chinese company. There's a link here
http://www.vangviengtour.com/balloon-over-vangvieng/
to some info.
Also try this one
http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Laos/West/Vang-Vieng/blog-559104.html

My only snap

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grabbed quickly as it caught me by surprise landing just upstream from where I was quietly imbibing.

A little further downstream, at "the end of town" there's a superb new resort being built.
The Villa Vang Vieng

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The riverside bungalows look inviting & inexpensive. This place is also somewhere I'd like to take happy-go-lucky.

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My stay in VV was only spoiled by the group of noisy Chinese staying at the Vilayvong guesthouse. A large group they had 15 rooms booked

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all the bungalows, plus riverside rooms on the car park side were theirs. Plus they had vehicles to spare.

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and what was it all about

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The high speed China - Laos railway. Announced last year with a completion date set for 2014!

Hard to believe? Then take a look at this

some more info from Lao Voices
Billion dollars Laos-China high speed railway

The construction of the 421km High-speed railway from the Laos-China border to Vientiane will begin as planned.

Laos and China agreed that construction of the railway would begin in April 2011 to mark the 50th anniversary of Laos-China diplomatic relations and be completed within four years.

Mr Somsavat said that Laos and China signed a memorandum of understanding on the railway in April 2010 after President Choummaly Sayasone and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed an agreement to elevate relations between the two countries to that of ‘all round strategic cooperation partners’.

He also said the profile of Laos would be raised as it would be the first country in the region to have a high speed railway.

The railway would be 421km long and include 190km of tunnels and 90km of bridges. It is envisaged that electric trains travelling at 200km per hour would carry passengers and trains travelling at 120 km per hour would carry freight.

There would be five main stations along the line — at Boten, Oudomxay, Luang Prabang, Vangvieng and Vientiane.

Mr Somsavat said construction of the railway would involve 50,000 workers, adding that the project would train workers in Laos while management staff would be sent to China for training.

The railway would form part of the Asean-China rail link, which begins in Yunnan province, China, and runs to Singapore through Laos and Thailand.
When I first read the reports, I thought yeah yeah, maybe in 10 more years, but after seeing the staff & vehicles in Vang Vieng it is full speed ahead & I don't doubt that it will happen in just a few years, although the 2014 date still seems unrealistic. But then again. There are a few thousand Chinese in the country working non-stop on the project. West of Phou Khoun supposedly they are digging the tunnels already & there are huge camps of Burmese? labourers out there doing the heavy work. How fast time changes in Laos. Best ride & go there asap.
 

DavidFL

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VIENTIANE
"The end of the road."
6-7-8 January 2011.

Vientianeis a cool party town for me & I always love to finish my Laos rides up in Vte with a few nights .
My fave spot is the Kopchaideu Pub from 8PM+. Then hit the Windwest Pub 10.30PM+ till 2AM.

Earlier in the evening you can always get some nice sunset shots from the Bor Pen Nyang Pub on the Mekong boulevard.

The downstream view from the Bor Pen Nyang

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note the new look Vientiane foreshore!

A sunset view upstream

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Sunset inside the Bor Pen Nyang

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Kopchaideu

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the 2nd band.

Inthy, owner of Kopchaideu & Green Discovery.

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one of the most active & dynamic stars in the Lao tourism & entertainment business. A fabulous down to earth honest guy & born in one of the Vieng Xai revolutionary caves! His life is an amazing story.

Windwest

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Miss Pat is the singer, & a good one.

My start to the day after a night at the KCD & WW with Inthy

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Another highlight of riding in LAos & ending up in Vientiane is to always catch up to Eric

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from LARA
http://www.ride-lara.com/
Eric is a two-stroke man, & knows his bikes & riding.
Check out his new Mynmar motorcycle tour here
http://www.ride-lara.com/myanmar

plus Thierry from Jules Classic Bike rental in Laos.

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http://www.bike-rental-laos.com/

That's it. a month on the road in Laos. 2 days later I was home in Chiang Mai.
 

Jurgen

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Great pictures and information about a wonderful region, with lovely people. Definitively an itinerary to put on the X'mas wish list. In between, I will take solace in enjoying your report a couple of times :)