Laos ADV Pt IV, Phonsovan/Vang Vieng/Vientiane

Apr 18, 2007
Day 6 Phonsovan Phou Khoun to Viang Vieng


Another leisurely start with breakfast on the veranda and then a bit of hammock time whilst Dad & Thongkhoun packed up the bikes and oiled the chains!


Well it is my holiday!


We filled up and headed west out on Route 7.
Dad had read about the Buddha caves at Muing Sui and thought it would be good to do some culcha en route.
About 45 kms along route 7 we came to a small sign pointing us down a dirt road.
Here we found a couple taking it easy but were delighted that someone had come to visit.
A short climb and we were confronted with a large golden Buddha surrounded by Christmas lights.


Inside the honeycomb labyrinthine passages we found stalactites that resounded with a hollow boom


nearby a rock shaped turtle, which a sign claimed was a million years old.


But what was really special is the recent find of many miniature Buddhas said to be over a thousand years old.



In one passage was a trellis shaped wheeled object, that had been used as a hospital bed during the bombing.
It originally was a bomb hoist liberated nearby from the old Raven airbase, LS 108, in June 1969.


Back on Route 7 it was less than two hours to Phou Khoun.


The road was excellent with tremendous sweeping corners climbing in the mountains. As we rolled through villages we would slow down and wave at the groups of children who always seemed to be drawn by the appearance of motorbikes.


Phou Khoun is at a crossroads of Routes 7 & 13 - turn north to Luang Prabang or south to the capital Vientiane.
We stopped for a quick bite – it was 1o’clock and some Chinese truck drivers were filling up on sticky rice and Beer Lao.
Thongkhoun tucked in to a trio of grilled birds – they sounded more crunch than flesh.



After filling up again


Following the path of previous GTRs.


I needed a shot of my usual motoring juice, M150.


We headed off down the mountain along Route 13.
This road was awesome.
Almost immediately we came into sight of Pha Chao mountain
that looked as though it was straight from the pages of Tolkein.
A magical and mystical place for sure.


Thanks to Bamboo Rat for the background info

The karsk formations were amazing – this pair reminded me of Madonna!

The only accident we saw in he whole trip


Bad Karma – the sticker of OBL on the door!


We refuelled at Kasi and then on to Vang Vieng.


We were going to stay at the Baan Sabai, but it has become so run down that we stayed next door at the Elephant Crossing – a modern comfortable hotel right on the Nam Xong River. It was only 3pm.


So after a brief rest, shower and change we headed back north out of town past this amazing temple


to check out the watersports for the next day.


in the river this Laotian Dude complete with cowboy hat showing off his kayaking skills to the less able!


That night we went into town and ate at the Xayoh and shot some pool.
Walking back it was peculiar to see a Star of David illuminated with Christmas lights and the offer of kosher ‘Happy Shakes’.
The town appeared quite empty, I gather that this was considered the low season.
On the way back we found a street seller making the best pancakes so we grabbed a couple and headed back to the hotel.

KMs Today Phonsovan 144 Phou Khoun 107, +25 Vang Vieng 276
Apr 18, 2007
Day 7 Vang Vieng to Nam Ngum Dam to Vientiane


Dad was up at dawn to take this amazing pic of the low cloud cover over Vang Vieng.
I was still asleep!


The plan was to go up river and tube back down to the town before heading on to the capital, Vientiane.
However we didn’t think we had the time and arrive before 'rush hour'.

So we went to the River Swing and crossed over on a small ferry.
We were the first of the day and the guy in charge had to be woken up. But before too long, to the thump of techno, the chap had got the swing and the slide operational.


He showed me what to do first.


Then I had to test the slide out first dropping from 4or 5 metres into the river.
Now the swing….




The backswing, to build up some momentum...

The trick is not to let go, when you are too high....


Oh No… this is gonna hurt


Dad was laughing so much that he forgot to throw me the ring.
It if it wasn't for Thongkhoun reacting quickly I would have been back in Vang Vieng before them!

Dad did climb up to the platform but chickened out - even on the slide.
Pretty lame!

It was after midday that we finally loaded up and set off heading south down Route 13.


There was the odd vehicle but nothing compared to Thailand.


Sadly we couldn’t head east to the ‘Special Zone’ and Long Chieng!


As we came into Phonhong we had a liquid break at a roadside café.

Time was good so we decided to detour via the Nam Ngum Dam and hung a left heading towards the dam that is the pride of Laos.
The hydroelectric dam provides much of Laos’s electricity and exports power to Thailand being the country’s second biggest foreign exchange earner.

A relaxed lunch at a beautifully sighted restaurant served by elegantly dressed waitresses.
On the wall were pictures of World leaders who had dined here before.


Then on to Vientiane, this time down Route 10.


It was quite a shock having come from the quiet countryside, to meet rush hour.
But no matter, we tightened up as a group and rode on into town passing the new museum to Kaysone and the national symbol That Luang.


At the Patuxai Victory Monument [aka the vertical runway] we stopped
and a passing Filipino took our group photo.
Marking the end of our amazing trip.



That night we went and had a sundowner at the Bor Pen Nyang to watch the sun slip slowly down behind the Mekong
and then met some really friendly locals.

But the night was capped by a delicious Vietnamese dinner with Jimoi and Quynh at their lovely house on the river.
Jimoi had persuaded Dad that the trip was entirely feasible, working out a route for us, in the time we had.
Quynh had organised our guide Thongkhoun from Green Discovery and all our hotel bookings.
They now run a bespoke travel agency Remote Asia
If you want a trip arranged where schedules are met and bookings kept then get in touch – you won’t be disappointed.


Sadly I never got to ride the Che Minsk – Jimoi's awesome bike!

KMs Today 30/143 Nam Ngum Dam 63 Vientiane 236

Total kilometres in Laos 1440 + nearly 500 kms in Chiang Mai -
estimated as none of the bikes’ speedos worked!

It was a really great adventure thanks to Dad, Jimoi, Quynh, Thongkhoun, Nop and David & Auke
and all the other GT Riders who gave me the encouragement as well as introducing me to Laos and really great BIKING!
Also for their advice which was of enormous help to me on the trip - many lessons were learned!

My only regret was that we didn’t have longer – I would have liked to stay the night at Nong Kiau Riverside resort and another day in Vang Vieng.
But there is always the next time. Above all I enjoyed meeting the Laos people and learning so much about their country.

Cheers Guys – I hope to back after Christmas to ride Ian Bungy’s Rambo Route to Pai
and then complete the MHS loop.

Our only damage on the trip:
A bent rim - not saying who it was.

and a broken hand guard

Please Note - The Map Scans for each section of the trip were by kind permission of David Unkovich.
Copyright belongs to David Unkovich and cannot be reused without his permission.
Buy a GT Rider Laos Map before you go - there is no substitute!