Escaping From Xam Neua & Laos.


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
A continuation from
Road Update - Pak Mong - Nam Bak - Nong Khiew - R1c
R1c Nong Khiew - Vieng Thong / Muang Hiam
R1c Vieng Thong / Muang Hiam - Phou Lao - R6 - Xam Neua

The original master plan leaving Chiang Mai had been for a week in Xam Neua, but I got stuck in Nong Khiew for 3 days because of rain. Forced to hang out longer than I wanted. The rain cleared & I moved onto Vieng Thong & then Xam Neua.
The weather was absolutely glorious on arrival in Xam Neua, but the next day it was gone; this cold wet weather in Xam Neua proved to be a bit of a disaster – trip wrecker.

I had 2 destinations inspired by MotoRex Reports
Xam Neua – Namsoi – Xamtai. Two days in the hills of Houa Phan Province.
Xam Neua – Ban Dan Check Point – Muang Et – Xam Neua.

But sadly my knee kept popping out & the pain is excruciating if you are trying to walk on it & it was far too dodgy to consider venturing further out to more remote places.
So 3 days of crap weather & an unstable knee meant it was time to get out of there while I could.

Concerned about road conditions & possible mud & landslides I got a contact to check with a tour operator & bus driver about the road from Phou Lao – Phonsavan. If any mud or landslides I would be in trouble putting my leg down for a dab. Should I hang out another day & hope for the best, or get a pick up to take me & the bike out? If the knee got worse, I could not ride & needed a pick up to take me out to the border I reckon I was looking at 30,000 baht to get to the Thai border either at Houei Xai or Vientiane. 3 to 4 days travel one way.

So take a chance & ride I did.
Xam Neua to Phonsavan was relatively easy, except the potholed Xam Neua – Phou Lao section.
Phou Lao to Phonsavan the road is a beauty & in good condition.
I got away from Xam Neua at 10.30am after getting the knee back into place.
A non stop ride to Phonsavan it was.

The drizzle started as soon as you got up on the ridgeline & continued all the way to Phonsavan


It is one hell of a mountain ride!

Arrival time in Phonsavan was 4.30PM

More to come
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Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
In Phonsavan
The Dok Khoune was my place of stay

Phonsavan Accommodation

super convenient. My knee had popped again when I arrived, but I was able to hop to reception & hop to a ground floor room.

An hour on the bed massaging the knee eventually got it maneuvered back into place.
Dusk comes...saunter off to the Bamboozle for a meal 100 metres away, then on the way back the knee popped again.
Off to bed it is then at an early hour.

In the morning the knee was still out of place.
I hopped to breakfast & hopped back to the room, laid down & worked on the gammy leg. 2 hours later it was "normal."
Quickly pack up & hit the road, headed for Phou Khoun, then Vang Vieng & even Vientiane if possible. Just ride for as long as possible.

Departure time from Phonsavan is 11.20AM
After 45 minutes I feel the need to water the bushes by the road. The knee has already popped out again so I have to dismount on the right side, take a couple of hops, water the plants then hop back on the bike right side.

It starts to rain 60 kms out from Phonsavan. Just a shower, I thought - ride through it, but the fog + rain set in. At Phou Khoun 60 kms later I'm drenched right through.

I have one muddy section in the thick fog to negotiate before Phou Khoun + successfully drag my left leg as a stabiliser + duck paddle with the right. Successfully I don't slip or fall off - somebody is watching over me I reckon.

In Phou Khoun I have to dismount on the right side again.. Hop to a shop + get helped up the steps to sit down. 1 bowl of mama noodles + 1 coffee consumed. Hop back to the bike. Get on the right side again + head off.

The next 20 minutes I have to chug along at 25kkph the fog is so thick. It's drizzling rain all the time. Sub optimal conditions if it ever was.
I soldier on.

The sun appears after Kasi. The power goes back on.

In Vang Vieng I top up for fuel, but don't get off the bike. Darkness soon comes & it's concentration plus to dodge the livestock, road side traffic + high beam headlights.

Arrival on Vte is 8.30pm. Knackered.
The staff at the Ekalath have to help me get off the bike & up to the room. It's good to be home "in safe hands."

The elevation profile Phonsavan - Vientiane


Arguably my most daunting serious ride ever. One that I would not do again. Once is enough - with a knee like that.
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