Laos Motorcycle Tour. Nov 2010. Dust, dirt and beers.

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Moto-Rex, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. Laos Motorcycle Tour Nov 2010. Dirt, Dust and Beers.

    The bike. KLX. My trusty green machine.

    Inspiration. Reading Jurgens Laos trip reports while I was stuck in Australiastan.

    Weather. Cool nights and sunny days.

    The way.

    Day 1. Cross over to Houei Xai.
    Day 2. Houei Xai – Pak Beng.
    Day 3. Pak Beng – Luang Prabang. via Hongsa.
    Day 4. Luang Prabang.
    Day 5. Luang Phabang – Kasi track – Luang Prabang.
    Day 6. Luang Prabang – Nong Khiew. via Sam Soun.
    Day 7. Nong Khiew.
    Day 8. Nong Khiew. Checked out dirt track.
    Day 9. Nong Khiew – Muang Khua. Using dirt tracks.
    Day 10. Muang Khua – Boun Tai. With detour to Samphanh.
    Day 11. Boun Tai – Luang Namtha.
    Day 12. Luang Namtha.
    Day 13. Luang Namtha – Muang Long.
    Day 14. Muang Long – Houei Xai. via Muang Meung.
    Day 15 Houei Xai – Chiang Khong.

    Me and the KLX, about to head north to Laos.

    Day 1.
    After a night in Chiang Khong it was over to Laos, and the whole process went pretty well really.
    I ran into 2wheels at Lao customs, and we ended up checking in to the same guest house, and meeting up later for a few sunset beers at the Thaveesinh were the beer Lao was cold, and food very tasty.

    Day 2.
    I meet up with 2wheels for breakfast, and after a coffee and baguette, I headed east to Pak Beng, and 2wheels pointed the big African Twin north to Luang Nantha.

    Didn’t take long to work out it was going to a dry and dusty trip.

    The track and the Mekong river about10kms east of Houei Xai.

    The sun rising over a rice field, it was a prefect morning to start the trip.

    Its so simple….Bike, Bag, Map, and the road ahead.

    Great spot for a power pole. Only in Asia.

    Not sure were the other one was.

    The track down to Pak Beng has plenty of villages, and is a good easy track to start out a trip on. Takes about four to five hours if your taking it easy, and is still one of my favorite tracks.




    After arriving in Pak Beng, I had a few hours wait till the commencement of sunset beers by the Mekong. But the wait was well worth it.

    Day 3.
    Luang Prabang via Hongsa.

    Check out the road from Pak Beng to Muang Ngeun,… hard to believe this was a four wheel drive track covered in lush vegetation just two years ago.

    The ferry that takes you across the Mekong about 14kms west of Pak Beng.


    This is the road to Hongsa east of Muang Ngeun….its not much fun. Each time a car went passed the other way I would have to come to a complete stop till the dust settled.



    Once you get to the track that turns off to Luang Prabang, the riding is magic.



    Nice spot here.




    The track is great for for a about 65kms……

    Then like many good tracks in Laos, it turned into this, and stayed that way, all the way to Luang Prabang

    One of the last river crossings that keep cattle and dirt riders happy.

    Looking over to Luang Prabang from the ferry.

    Arrived in Luang Prabang tired and thrusty, so after a shower it was down to the river for an icy cold beer Lao.

    Great way to finished of a days riding…..sunset beers by the Mekong.

    My favorite river side restaurant is Soudaphone, icy cold beer, and very good food.

    Yeh….things could be worse.

    Day 4.
    Just kicked back in town, got the phone sorted out, and finished the day with more sunset beers by the Mekong.

    Day 5.
    The plan was to ride to Kasi on the track that runs through the jungle that starts near Muang Nan. This was to be my third attempt at this track, eighteen months ago I had tried twice, and was stopped because of major new road works both times.

    Getting a snack for the ride off my favorite baguette lady in Luang Phabang.

    A small village near the start of the track.


    Things looked promising.

    I had stopped to take the above photo, when I noticed a bike coming up from behind. The rider stopped and said hello, and it happened to be Jimoi. This was the first time we had ever meet, and it happened to be in the middle of no were.


    We rode off together, but were soon stopped by what Jim referred to as “the curse of the Komatsu”. Yes foiled again. Jim decided he’d wait a bit and see if it was going to be cleared. I decided to head back to Luang Prabang, riding the scenic route along the river.

    Curse of the Komatsu.

    Lunch on the trail.

    My atempt at using the timer on the camera for the first time.

    It was a good ride back, great track with plenty of villages, and every now and then following the river.



    Stopping for a drink in these little villages is always a laugh.







    The last river crossing before Luang Prabang, and quiet spot to cool off.

    Made it back to Luang Prabang and checked into Oudom Suk guest house….again. Then it was down to the river to watch the sunset….with a beer or two of course.

    Day 6.
    I had planned to give the Kasi track another shot, but before taking off I rang Jimoi to see if he had got through. He said he gave up waiting for the track to be cleared as well, and that he had spoken to a lao guy who said that there was five teams working along the 80km track. So even if you did get passed the first one, there was a good chance you wouldn’t get passed one of the others.

    So I decided to simply head north to Nong Khiew instead, taking the track that goes via Sam Soun.




    This is heavy work and the kids work pretty hard…but I do think the girl in the red could have squeezed a few more sticks in her basket.

    Nice spot for a drink and laugh with the locals.

    Carrying gravel and sand, these kids are tough little guys and girls.


    I like this shot.









    The track comes to an end at Sam Soun, and from there I headed west along hwy 1C to Nong Khiew.

    A quick drink from this little market.

    And a splash of fuel to make sure Id make it all the way.

    HWY 1C, with the mountains of Nong Khiew in the distance were sunset beers by the Nam Oi would no doubt be on the cards.

    Day 7.
    Nong Khiew.
    Great place to do nothing but sit outside on the bungalow veranda, and watch the river go by.


    The view from my veranda at the Seng Dao guesthouse, 70,000kip per night.

    Some work being done on the bridge.


    Day 8.
    Nong Khiew.
    I took off on the KLX and I spent a few hours looking for a track that I wanted to find on my first Laos trip two years. I wanted to ride from Nong Khiew to Muang Khua on dirt tracks.

    Day 9.
    Nong Khiew – Muang Khua.

    After some coffee and a banana pancake at the CT restaurant, it was off try out the tracks I had looked at the day before, which with any luck would get me to Muang Khua.





    I kept coming to intersections like this one, were there was no signs, and the traffic wear was the same in each direction. So when all else fails, it was time to put faith in,..”ennie, minnie, mynee, moe.”


    I finally come to a small village and worked out I was “probably” heading in the right direction.





    Now I know how the pandas at Chiang Mai zoo feel.







    Great shot of the mirror.

    With a lot of help from ennie, minnie, myine, and moe. I stumbled upon Muang Khua.

    Theres a new bridge being built over the Nam Phak at the back of the Muang Khua market.

    The old bridge looking a little worse from wear.

    Picture953. Picture954.

    And theres also a new bridge that when finished will cross the Nam Oi 1km south of town.

    And Ill be there the day it opens, with a bottle of champagne……anyone that’s had to deal with the guy that runs this ferry will know why.



    Day 10.
    Muang Khua – Boun Tai… With a detour to Samphanh.

    I came across these lovely ladies on hwy 1B.

    They all had a good laugh looking at the view finder.

    There are many villages with different ethic back grounds that live on and around hwy 1B, all with colorful dresses.

    I always wondered about Samphanh,… so thought Id better go check it out.
    Well I had nothing better to do.

    It was slow going at first due the fog.

    Billy cart racer.



    Arrived at the Nam Oi, and it works out Samphanh is on the other side of the river.

    I left my bike on the west side and took a little boat which was the only transport across.


    Samphanh is very small town, and the locals all had the “What the” look on there faces seeing me walking around town in rider gear.

    On way back to the main hwy the fog had lifted, and the sky was blue.


    I arrived in Boun Tai, and booked into the Phoxai Guest house.
    Picture1001. Picture1002.

    It was good value for 30,000kip. And what a view from the private balcony.

    Picture1006. Picture1003.

    Day 11.
    Boun Tai – Luang Namtha.

    The track through to Na Tong was as rough as Ive ever seen it, I kept checking my bag to make sure it hadn’t fallen of the back, while thinking Ive gotta get a puncture soon.

    Then I come across these two. They had stopped because a few saucepan lids had come a drift.

    It shows you don’t need some exotic bike with all the razzmatazz to get from A to B in Laos.






    The track finished, and it was on to hwy13…..what a complete mess.

    Dinner at the Manychan in Luang Namtha. Good food, cold beer, but the worst service of any restaurant Ive ever been in. Everyone except the cook should be sacked.

    Day 12.
    Luang Namtha.
    Just took easy with a ride around the town.

    Day 13.
    Luang Namtha – Muang Long.

    Check out dusty me and my new riding top…..Ill definitely need to soak over night before washing.

    Track to Muang Long was in very good condition apart from the dust.
    I also checked out a few smaller tracks on the way to fill in the day.

    The room the lady gave me in Muang Long was bigger enough to play cricket in, and had two double beds. Bit of a waste really, since I don’t play cricket.

    There was great little restaurant in the middle of a rice field which had good food, and coldish beer.


    Day 14.

    Muang Long – Houei Xai. via Muang Meung. (the back way)
    This is a great way to get to Houei Xai, it is one of the best tracks I’ve ridden in Laos.



    At last…Mud beautiful mud. After two weeks riding in the dust, it was treat riding through here.




    I got to Houei Xai early enough to cross back to Thailand that day. But I’m starting like the town, so decided to stay another night there.

    Day 15.
    Houei Xai – Chiang Khong.

    The ramp down to the ferry, packed with trucks waiting to cross.

    Total kilometers was 2550, starting and finishing in Chiang Mai, which isn’t a great deal for around 18 days away. But there was plenty of take it easy days I suppose.
    And why rush, you end up seeing nothing, and you don’t get a good feel for the place either.

    Maybe a few too many shots of tracks, but maybe they will help anyone planning a trip to Laos.

  2. Another excellent report Rex. Sitting here at home the pictures of the good tracks and people make me want to head over the border again. The dust, traffic and roadwork, NOT! You have some nice track pictures that show it can all be worth while.
    I would like to try this one, haven't done it before. :clap:

    Not too many track photos :thumbup: . Too many food pictures. :thumbdown: Why is everyone doing that now? :crazy:

    Hope to pick your brain next I see you. :D
  3. Good one Rex. :clap:
    Appreciate the interesting off-piste alternatives there Matey.
    And nice to see Jimoi out on the trails.
  4. Good stuff Rex; enjoy a Beer Dark myself.
    The headlights - covered??????
    Cheers mate
  5. Excellent story and great pics me real itchy feet .
    IMHO the food pics are helpful to newby Laos riders .I notice a Dandenong MCC sticker near your headlight...I am an ex Pakenham Upper kid. Cheers Noel
  6. Terrific Rex. I love to see the daily life along the way and these pix capture a lot of that. Keep em coming mate. :thumbup:
  7. Hhmh, at first glance looks like a very familiar piece of road



    from 2007

    I feel good that it was giving you a hard time on a light KLX250, as I certainly did not enjoy it for one very crucial moment. :lol:
  8. Rex wrote:
    Not at all! Things change so fast in Lao your pics are very relevant to keep us updated.
    Not to mention the tracks I have not ridden yet such as "Muang Long – Houei Xai. via Muang Meung. (the back way)". That's sounds real nice and a great way to avoid the now boring highway 3.
    Thanks for the try and the inspiration.

    Moreover "not too many shots of tracks" because your post balances them with pics of people, village life, landscape, etc...

    Not quite familiar with "ennie, minnie, myine, and moe" technology, though... Is this a kind of "GPS Inside" pirated from Intel the Lao way? Seems to work fine you should copyright it!

    SilverHawk wrote
    Well... As long it's not Mac Do, keep them coming... However in all fairness why did you censor the karaoke pics! Do we need Wikileaks to get the full comprehensive report! :wink:
    Your post demonstrates the best way to travel Lao away from the highway mess. Put me down the subscription list please.
    Thanks again... You are on a good vibe...
    Keep grooving
  9. Ha Ha,,,,,,,,,,,,Yes, Eric, you caught me sneaking in to satisfy one of my unhealthy cravings. I should have taken a photo of my Big Mac so "the newbies" know what (unhealthy) food look likes. Eric, we need to get together again for one of your vegetarian lunch place recommendations. Quite good. :thumbup:
  10. Well, if someone wants to ride this track you should not wait to long. For those who are not familiar with this road, this is how it looks on the Laos GPS map. The new road will be about 70 km long and will shorten the road and travel time to Luang Prabang considerable with the distance between Kasy to Luang Prabang about 135 km along the new road versus 175 km along road 13 via Phoukhoun.

    On the Kasy side the first 25 km is getting close to be ready and the first part has been asphalted.


    However, they have their work cut out for them as they have to cross a mountain range with peaks over 2000 meter and they expect that the road will be ready sometime in 2013.

    Busy carving the road out in the mountains
  11. awesome report rexy, this confirms my suspicions that it was you on the klx250 that i saw leaving huay xai on the 28th november, i would have stopped to say hi but i was on a mad rush to catch up some other riders.
    your trip looks a belter with some wicked snaps aswell.
    how long did the nong kieow to muang khua stretch take by the way?
  12. Thanks for the nice pics that shows the people and their life,very good. :clap: :clap: :clap:
    I hope i can go laos too in the next time.
  13. Nice pic's Rex, good to see you in Luang Namtha, maybe we can check out that sweet smelling Karaoke again some other time. You was right about the slippery concrete water crossing by the way :angel:

  14. SilverHawk wrote:
    Good idea... Happy to tilt your gastronomic karma the right way after all these sins!

    Vegetarian lunch places options:
    -Taste From Heaven
    Downtown location (not far from Mac Do Thapae)
    237-239 Thapae Road

    -Khun Churn
    Nimanhaemin soi 17. Buffet style. Pleasant gardennish setting

    -Again Suan Dok.
    Actually haven't been there for a while. Despite the excellent food my partner seems to be put off by a ghost issue -Wat Suan Dok being one of the most active corpses recycling center in the North.

    Monday, Tuesday... Which day is convenient for you?
    Is Justin around and the honorable author of this trip report (so we could extract more details and the juicy stuff from you, Khun Rex)?
    Till then, Bon Appetit:
  15. The genuine beauty of Laos - the people, & why so many guys keep going back to ride these remote areas. Fantastic genuine down to earth sincere people. :thumbup:

    This shot is an absolute winner
    The smile on the little guys face + the strain of carrying that heavy load! An incredible snap :clap:

    Real adventure riders & just another day at the office.
    I wonder how they'd go on a big KTM or BMW adventure bike?

    Arh the FAST changing scene in Laos.
    I've seen more changes in Laos in 5 years than 15 years in Thailand. Unbelievable. So if you've got a chance, GO & RIDE LAOS as soon as possible.

    Moto-Rex an amazing trip & report. I bet this trip & its memories will stay with you for many years to come. And to think you hesitated to just do the Samoeng loop when you first came here a few years ago. How life changes when you're having a good stress free time. :thumbup:
  16. Rex,
    absolutely inspirational Mate - the photos and the narrative - will look forward to a similar trip on my return in 6 weeks

    Many Thanks
  17. Nice post Rex -

    Just to clarify Rex's photo of the digging on the road, it looks passable in some manner but the damn digger up above kept chucking trees and rocks down. On the left side of the photo frame you can't see that it was a 40 degree angle down slope for about 600 meters with no vegetation to slow your descent.

    I'd much rather meet other riders in places like that - better there than the keyboard.
  18. Hi SilverhawkUSA, Im in oz for a whil but would be good to catch up when I return.

    Small world, many DMCC members live in, around Pakenham, in fact DMCC's had a MX track in Beaconsfield about 50 years ago, before moving to Wonthaggi.

    Cheers Moto-Rex
  19. Thanks for your kind words Pee, I hope you and Silverhawk meet up for that meatless meal.
    Maybe the three of us should head to laos for a few days when I return from oz.
    Sorry no pix of the karaoke, was to dark even for the flash in there.

  20. Gday Bob.
    It was good to meet you blokes in Luang Namtha that night. That Kookie Karaoke sure was a laugh.
    Good to hear you took that track to Boun Tai, its a great ride that for sure.
    Ill give you a call when Im in Chiang Rai next, and we can meet up for a beer.

  21. Went down this road 10 days ago with my 4x4 - the first 24kms from Meuang Nan/Xayabouly towards Kasi are under full construction, rocket blasting etc. - but passable. After that its smooth sailing all the way, tarmac, asphalted partly. Scenery breathtaking and hitting 1800 metres above sea level. Drive it before the heavy boys are at it with their 10+ wheelers. Road 4 (Meuang Nan) to 13N being potholed and no endeavours visible to get that stretch fixed though.

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