Laos Trip report 16th Feb to 21 Feb

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Poompui, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

    I was planning to do this trip towards the end of this year,but a combination of lack of work and cheap airfare deals due to the political situation in Thailand meant the trip was brought forward,with a workmate,Phil,accompanying me.
    Arrived Bkk on the 12th Feb,did a few family commitments and flew to Udon Thani,then on to VTE across the Friendship Bridge,and had a tuk tuk driver take me to a guesthouse.Had a major computer crash 2 days before I left Australia so lost all my prepared notes for the trip.

    Woke up nice and early in Vientiane,had breakfast,and hopped into a tuk tuk to go over to meet Jim from Remote AsiaTravel to pick up the bikes which Phil and I would be riding on our 6 day adventure around Laos.

    Phil was already there,having come over from Korat on the overnight train.Quick run down on the bikes,a Honda CRF250 for Phil,and a Honda XR400 for me,selected helmets,jackets and boots and strapped our bags onto the bikes.


    Got off to a bad start when Phil hopped on hisbike,rolled backwards and knocked my bike over.Sigh.....was this a portent of things to come?
    No damage to the bike fortunately,and with the supplied map and a suggested route we were off!
    Head towards the friendship bridge,turn left and follow the Mekong towards Paxsan,where we would then head inland to our intended overnight stop at Thatom.
    The dirt road was in good condition,but pretty boring as it meandered along the river.Not sure how many wrong turns we took,as there wasn't any signage,but we just kept going down endless tracks,until we hit a bitumen road which took us straight to Paxsan on route 13.


    Phil stopped for some roadside dried fish.The stall was manned by children,and I noticed one shy boy of about 6 hanging back and not joining in the fun of trying to interact with these crazy farang.Having"borrowed" the idea of another GT rider,I had packed a few frisbees in my bag,so trying to engage this young chap I took one out and indicated for him to catch it.
    Of course when I threw it to him from about 3 metres away he just stood there and let it hit him in the head with a resounding clunk.
    Sigh,all the other kids thought this was so funny,so I put my helmet on him ready for the next throw.........
    From Paxsan we headed towards route 10,to Thatom.The road wound it's way through the increasing hilly terrain,with lots of dirt sections and big potholes and wheel ruts ,t was slow going.Along this road were many logging trucks,and you had to enter blind corners carefully as you never knew when one would come flying around the bend on your side of the road.


    Saw many broken down trucks,and when we stopped to take a photo of one a couple of armed soldiers materialised out of the bush and watched us!They seemed friendly enough,though I'm not sure why an army post was there...


    We also came around a bend and saw a truck pulled up on our side of the road,and a severly damaged motorbike lying in front of it.I stopped to take a photo,but unfortunately my camera/lens hadn't liked the vibration on the bike and gave me a few blank photos.As quite a few people were looking distressed sitting on their haunches with their head in their hands I assumed it wasn't a good outcome for the rider,and didn't want to hang around trying to get my camera working.


    Phil was in full tourist mode,snapping pics left right and he heads back to take a photo of a broken down truck.

    We arrived in Thatom just as it was getting dark(and cooler),and found a newish looking guesthouse,Manysok was the name,on the right as you head out of town.There were a couple of other guesthouses I saw,but seemed to be deserted or closed.
    Took two rooms,50,000 kip each.


    Was disappointed to find out there was no hotwater (should have asked first,basic mistake,not to be repeated),so after a freezing cold shower went down the road for some noodle soup.And a beer lao ortwo.

    Woke next morning to find the town shrouded by fog,and a bit of chill in the air.....


    After dressing in what warm clothes we had we set off for Phonsavan,our next stopover.


    The road to Phonsavan along route 10 was paved,but had a few nasty bumps,a couple which launched me out of the seat a few times.It was slow going,with Phil stopping many times to take photos of tractors,mountains,tractors,mountains......
    I was usually pottering along at 30 to40kph,waiting for him to catch up.It was whilst I was pulled up waiting for him I took the photo of the Laos travelling salesman.....


    As I am in the high voltage distribution game,I was amused to see some very expensive and fragile items of HV switchgear being transported in the back of a pickup down the dusty,bumpy road.I remember installing some cheap Vietnamese VT's once in a switchyard,which blew up when we energised them,taking out the supply to 3 I think I know why!


    Arrived safely in Phonsavan,and ended up staying two nights there,mainly because we couldn't find the Plain of Jars within the time we had allowed to explore the site.
    Can't remember the name of the hotel,but it was next to the Lao-falang restaurant mentioned elsewhere in this forum.100,000 kip a night,and could lock the bikes up overnight in the small storage space they have beside the hotel.

    More to come....might cut down on the pics though.
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  3. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Good Stuff, I hate seeing all those Bloody Logging Trucks but that's the Price of Development together with Ignorance!!!
  4. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

    Agree,lots of bare hills around,thought the wood was destined for China,but the trucks were heading towards the Mekong.
    Guess they could still go by barge.

  5. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Good stuff! Keep it coming!! :thumbup:
  6. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    Looks like you blokes were having some fun. Keep it coming and with the photos if you can. Love the one of the smiley traveling sales man.
  7. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Moderator Staff Member

    Great stuff..
    Thanks for sharing your report and contributing back to the forum 

    No need to cut down on the photo's.. They are great.
    As they say.. A picture is worth a thousand words..

    Had a good laugh at the Frisbee incident.. LOL..

    Really sad to see all the logging and it is getting more prolific..

    In the next 10 to 15 years we will be watching documentaries on TV.. "Where did the forest in Laos go?"

    Looking forward to the rest.

  8. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

    We set off in the morning to explore the Plain of Jars,after spending the previous afternoon getting wrong directions from quite a few people.It is strange to see how few people in Laos (and parts of Thailand) have no idea how to read a map,or give clear instructions.Quite frustrating for me.More on that later!
    We checked out Site 1,but were told we couldn’t take our bikes in,and it was a 500m walk to the first of the jars.As Phil had blown himself a couple of times (a story for another day) he doesn’t enjoy walking any distance so we decided to check out the other sites.
    Pic below is on the road out to the quarry site.....saw a sign pointing to a village,but,sigh,couldn't find any village.


    The Jar Quarry sounded exciting,so we pulled into that site for a look.
    Hmm…..nothing there.There was an uphill 1.2km walk to a secret tunnel…..hmm…no thanks.
    I wasn’t giving up on my quest to see a jar!So it was off to site 3.
    Quite a few jars there,managed to infiltrate a small tour group to hear the story of the jars.



    Saw a cemetery up on a hill,so went up for a look "Tombstone?" was quite new,looked like it had only been completed that day.


    Phil looking deep in thought......

    The cemetery we visited was on the road out to the spoon village,near a Russian tank site.


    I can see why the jars are thought to be on a trading route from years ago,lots of plains and flat ground around.

    My thirst for jars quenched,it was off to find the village which exists from the making of spoons from old bomb parts.As we approached the village we saw a house on the right where a chap was at a kiln melting some aluminium down.

    Phil was interested in this,but we saw many bits of scrap aluminium which was being used to make the spoons,not really from bomb parts but maye they still do in the village itself.
    After buying the obligatory souvenir we took a detour and found a school,where I gave away another Frisbee.Their catching skills need improving.....future English cricketers in the making?

    Frisbee2_zps1fe4d2e1. Frisbee1_zps87f4af4d.
    Rode back to town,but not before noticing that there was alot of roads/highways being prepared around the Phonsavan area,obviously in preparation for the World Heritage listing.
    We also came across a farming type lady giving her cow a bath.....


    Checked out the Mines Advisory Group,made a donation and had dinner at the Crater Café.
    If anybody wants to make a fortune in Phonsavan start up a couple of coffee shops with real cappaucino machines,had a lot of trouble finding a decent coffee in town.
    Stay tuned to the next episode,where things don't quite go to plan.....
    (sitting at the airport now using my phone as a modem,so hope all the piccies came out.)
  9. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

    The forests went with the topsoil....and there will be more landslips too.....

  10. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

    Sigh.....looks like a couple of photos didn't come out (on my laptop).
    Have pm'd David,might have to wait till I'm back in Oz and repair my computer before I can fix it.
  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Photos are there. Frisbee2 & Cow bathing.
  12. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

    Hmm....just pixallated rubbish on my laptop......might have to clear my cache.

    Moving on,the first 3 days were spent getting used to the bike,riding on the "wrong" side of the road,and just feeling my way around the country.Coming across winding roads was met with a mix of excitement and apprehension,as I wasn't too sure how far to push the XL400 on knobby tires.On the wrong side of the road for me.
    The engine suited my riding style,as I like to roll the throttle on and off,using the engine braking to slow me down for the bends.There was a lot of vibration on the tarmac though,coming from the tyres.My camera,hands,butt and even my shower gel showed the effects of a few hours in the saddle!

    As we had spent 2 days in Phonsavan instead of the allocated 1 night,I noticed on the GT rider map we had that there was a motorbike trail from Phoun Khoun,which would have taken us up to near Lima 36 airbase,which was one of the places we wanted to visit.It would save us 100km of riding on the road,so we decided to go for it.

    Using the milage distances on the map we looked for the turn off from the road from Phoun Khoun,and found a track which approximated that distance.
    We followed the track for a while,as it narrowed and had a few interesting sections,with a rickety bamboo bridge crossing at one point.



    Internet bogging down...signing off now.
    Next episode...lost...rockets and rats.
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Now this sounds like a real good story & mega report coming on....:clap:
  14. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Subscribed!! popcorn
  15. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

    OK,back in Oz now,computer patched up....will try to finish the Laos trip today or tomorrow,then the Golden Triangle leg....need to go back to work for a rest!
    Thanks for the encouragement,hope the 'puter hold up.
  16. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Power on Poompui.

    Power On. sent from Sony Xperia AcroS
  17. Poompui

    Poompui Ol'Timer

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