Laos loop: 7 days

Jan 12, 2003
Laos loop: 7 days
« on: Jun 16th, 2002, 8:04am » Quote Modify Remove

Thurs, June 6: Cnx -> Chiang Khong, 315 km, 9 hours.
This oddessy started when my canadian buddy showed up from Singapore with a burning desire to ride Laos, and absolutely zero motorcycle experience! After renting him a Baja 250 from Lek big bike we set off from Cnx at 3:00 pm or so enroute to Chiang Khong and the border. Since Mike was new at this we only managed about 60 km/hr on the good highwayd out to Chiang Rai. Rolled into town well after dark and sipped our beers watching the rain get more intense.

Friday, June 7: Chiang Khong -> Huay Xia, 500m, 7 hours.
It took the officials a little time to sort out all our papaerwork. We had hoped that we would be underway today but no dice. By the time it was all done it was early afternoon. Ferrying the bikes across on the small longboats was hilarious. I have to say, that despite the 8500 baht / bike fee for handling all the paperwork, if one has limited time to deal with it and haven't done it before, it's worth the lofty pricetag. Unless we're exceptionally stupid, navigating the maze of paperwork for a first timer would be quite time consuming.

Saturday, June 8: Huay Xia -> Udom Xia, 330 km, 14 hours.
This was the stretch we (I?) were dreading. The infamous 'jungle trail' after rainfall and with a total newbie. Very surprisingly, the road was not nearly as bad as advertised. For the most part, the rain made the dusty surface nice and tacky and we were spared from swallowing the stuff all day. Make no mistake, it's rough. And the few sections of foot deep slop and knee deep stream crossings made for some good adventure. But it really wasn't that bad. After days of heavy rain I think it would be a different story though On the way to Luang Nam Tha we passed 3 sets of heavy equipment, one set at work actively grading a particularily bad stretch of road. The pressure on both the Thai and Chinese sides of the border for a ground trade route will no doubt "improve" this road in the future. That would be a shame. On the better stretch from Luang Nam Tha to Udom Xia my bike got a bit squirrely and sure enough, it was a flat. On the back wheel no less. Fortunately I brought my own tools since the wrench Lek provided didn't fit the axle nut. After about half an hour of mucking around we set off again, drenched from the exertion. Maybe 5 km later, the same thing happened again! This time after inspecting the tire we found the culprit: a 1 cm long finishing nail. What were the odds? Rolled into Udom Xia at 8:15 pm wondering if this was going to be the theme for this trip. Hit a chinese disco for a couple Beerlaos' and besides us, there was 1 other person in there... female at least.

Sunday, June 9: Udom Xia -> Luang Prabang, 220 km, 8 or so hours.
Pace is picking up. Mike is considerably more confident on the bike and now the only thing holding us back is the scenery which is astonishing. Many stops and hill tribe visits make for a more interesting trip and happy backside.

Monday, June 10: Luang Prabang -> Vang Vieng, 230 km, 8 or so hours.
Weather patterns here seem to be different than in Thailand: it rains in the morning and after a half hour or so, it clears up. This section of the road is wild. As high as many of the hill tops and very deep valley. Interesting hill tribe people as well. One village, people are dirty, barely clothed, and shy to the point of running away. The next one, 5km down the road, they are tall, sqeaky clean, and flock to the bikes in droves. At one in particular a trio of lovely young ladies wearing brand new bright (and tight) red t shirts with some kind of Laos text on the front sally up to us where we and our bags of candy are surrounded by kids. The ladies were exceptionally, ahem.... friendly as we clicked off picture after picture standing next to them. I learned later that the inscriptions meant something to the tune of "single and looking for a husband". We figured they were about 15 or 16....... Much of the days riding was in heavy cloud and light drizzle. The road surface can be strange when wet. It's very well paved everywhere but certain sections are incredibly slippery. My bike was getting so squirrely I dismounted to see if I was developing another flat. But Mike noticed the same thing and sure enough the pebbles embedded in the road surface felt polished and incredibly slick. And a few km later, it was fine. Go figure. At the junction with Hwy 7 to Phongsavan and the Plain of Jars we bailed because of the amount of rain. Mike wanted to go for it, and we probably would have made it fine, but I was concerned about getting stuck somewhere if we had a week long period of bad weather roll in. Next time.

Tuesday, June 11: Vang Vieng -> Udon Thani, 260 km, maybe 7 hours.
Woke up again to a cloud of Mike's nocturnal gaseous emissions. So another early start. Border crossing only took an hour or so both sides combined. Riding now not nearly so interesting after flattening out near Vang Vieng . Rolled into Udon Thani mid afternoon.

Wednesday, June 12: Udon Thani -> Phetchubun, 327 km, 6 hours.
Proper cruising speed now. Pretty route through forest but by now we're jaded....

Thursday, June 13: Phetchubun -> Cnx, 480 km, 7.5 hours.
Just as soon as Mike gets his bike legs, the trip's over. 2157 km in 7 days of riding and lots of pics. Not too bad. Next time, I'd like to do it a little slower. But this was a great Laos 'sampler'.

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Posts: 3
Re: Laos loop: 7 days
« Reply #1 on: Jun 17th, 2002, 3:48pm » Quote Modify Remove

hiya leebaer,
sounds like your having a good time.
iam interested how come it cost you 8500bt , too get your bike papers sorted?
with poudoi travel its $40 (about 2000 bt)
who did you organise this with?

GT-Rider Newbie

Been there, done that, do it again

Posts: 19
Re: Laos loop: 7 days
« Reply #2 on: Jun 17th, 2002, 3:55pm » Quote Modify Remove

Congrats to your Singapore buddy. That is a hell of a first trip by motorcycle. Don't you have some epic stories about him, or was it beginner's luck all the way?

As far as your border fees, you were robbed. Went in a Huay Xai last year using an agent, and it was 2400 baht for 2 bikes.

Let us know who you used so we can avoid him!!


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Posts: 11
Re: Laos loop: 7 days
« Reply #3 on: Jun 18th, 2002, 6:57am » Quote Modify Remove

BobS and phil,


ya, I kinda figured we were... robbed that is. From my understanding the only charge for the paperwork was $35 US so I figured we were getting taken for a bit of a ride. Especially when a crew on each side of the border appeared to load/unload our bikes from the 'ferry'. The guy who did the paperwork was the guy who rented us the bikes, "Lek Big Bike". We went with him because he seemed to have the best maintained bikes we could find in Chiang Mai. It was expensive because of so many middlemen "agents" I think. He probably also didn't want his bikes to go to Laos so I wouldn't be surprised if there was some kind of surcharge factored in there as well.

Ya, my buddy didn't think it was a big deal. He was more worried about getting blindsided while trying to get out of Chiang Mai in rush hour, and rightly so. Dirt trails with no traffic don't worry me either. Had a feeling we had a guardian angel of sorts on this trip though. Maybe our collective 17,000 baht donation to the thia/laos economies had something to do with it.