Long Tieng (ls 20a) - February 2018

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Jawnee, Apr 2, 2018.

  1. Jawnee

    Jawnee Member

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    In February 2018 I decided to make my second attempt to reach the previously secret CIA airbase in Long Tieng Lao, called LS20A. The first attempt was 10 months earlier and I had been told that an adventure bike would not make it in on the road from Phonsavan. I was riding a V-Strom with street tires and it was raining in the hills when I arrived in Phonsavan. At that time I decided not to chance it and headed to Xam Nuea and further north in Lao.

    In February of this year I came back in the dry season equipped with Karoo 3 and the attitude that I was going there no matter what. I first planned to come from the south, because I had heard that they were stopping people from coming from the north, and then head from Long Tieng to Phonsavan. A friend from China had done the route from the north a few days before, so I decided to ride from Phonsavan. In Phonsavan I was told again that they were stopping people from going to Long Tieng. I left anyways as I thought the worst that could happen is that they would make me turn around. I had no problems getting to Long Tieng and was not stopped at any of the check points along the way.

    The first 25km or so was paved and the next 20km they were working on and would soon be paved. The last 45 km over a few mountain ranges had some places that were being improved, but some of the up and downs, and around corners made the trip interesting. For the first 45km I thought I had wasted my money buying the Karoos, but I was happy that I had them in the mountains.

    On the way I stopped to take this picture
    img_5413-. Wow, I'm at Long Tieng already!

    Nope. As I passed through the town I could tell that it was not LS 20A. After returning to Phonsavan I found out that it was LS 20 at Xam Thong.

    I finally arrived at the big hill (mountain) at one end the valley for Long Tieng and passed through some heavy construction that they were doing. At the time, the road was only open at noon and between the hours of 5pm and 8am. I headed into the town and onto the runway to find a motorcycle (Super Tenre) and two guys already there. There was Damiri from Malaysia and Mick from Ireland (the self appointed ambassador to Long Tieng). Mick is a good contact and you can find him on Facebook at Mick Lyons

    wp_20180210_13_01_17_pro-.
    I took some other photos and had Mick Lyons take some photos of me (I don't think he knows how to focus a camera, unless it was caused by too much Irish Wiskey).

    wp_20180210_13_03_19_pro-. Me and the V-Strom. Some familiar hills in the background.

    wp_20180210_13_03_26_pro-. Nice focus Mick. (I'm usually not that fuzzy)

    wp_20180210_13_26_10_pro-. I focused this one. The three of us on the runway.

    img_5415-. After this we took a trip up to a viewpoint to look down on the town and runway.

    If you look at this photo and the LS 20 photo, you may see why I thought I was at Long Tieng when I spotted LS 20.

    I left Damiri and Mick at the viewpoint and started to head back to Phonsavan. Before leaving Long Tieng I wanted to make a couple of runs on the runway and made a video - (you can find more videos at my YouTube channel “John’s Motorcycle Adventures”)

    I then headed out of Long Tieng and up the mountain to find that the road was blocked by the construction. I had hoped that a small trail might have been left open, but no. With the opening of the road not until 5pm I decided that, since I didn’t want to chance being caught on the road through the mountains in the dark, I would return to Long Tieng and find Damiri and Mick and stay at the same guesthouse.

    I had come to Long Tieng with nothing on the bike except some spare parts and tools. There were no shirts, underwear, pants, shoes, nor toiletries. Mick lent me a t-shirt, and at a store down the road I was able to buy undies, deodorant, a toothbrush, and slip-on shoes. We went to eat and then went to Mick’s favourite bar (brothel??) where we consumed lots of water. Well, Mick had many bottles of beer while Damiri and I drank water and coke.

    Damiri and I left early the next morning so that we would be past the construction before the 8am start time. You can see the construction on the mountain in this video


    The fun part of the road is the first 45kms that you can see in this video The road is steeper than it appears in the movie and at the top of the first mountain the bull dust had mixed with the mountain dew to form some mud (it turned out not to be that slippery). Further down the hill and in other parts of the first 45km there was a lot of this bull dust in the corners.

    The only time I was stopped was on the way back with Damiri just before the road went from dirt and nice rolled grit to pavement. The police at a booth stopped us and made us wait until someone in plain clothes arrived and took our passport information. The road from here to Phonsavan is a breeze.

    wp_20180211_09_55_39_pro-.
    Some kids at the end of the first 45km going out of Long Tieng.

    I heard from Mick that they keep improving the road and it is getting better and better. Within the last 45km of the road, there are spots that are being improved including the last mountain road down to Long Tieng. Soon it will be an easy ride to come into LS 20A from Phonsavan, so go soon before it becomes an everyday type of trip to get in from the north. Damiri told me that the route from the south is easier than the one going north.

    I said I wasn’t stopped at all on my way into Long Tieng. I am not sure if this will happen to everybody. It probably will depend on what day you go and how the authorities are feeling on that day.

    That being said, enjoy your ride into Long Tieng (LS 20A).



    Some extra phots of another Lima Site near Kasi about 3km to 5km after the turn onto the Kasi bypass to Xayabouli on the right.
    img_5416-. img_5420-.
     

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  2. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Wow! Awesome report & nice road info with the VDOs.

    I bet that felt like you were on top of the world, finally getting in there.

    What do you reckon is the minimum ride time in from Phonsavan then?

    On the runway what speed did you gt up to?

    I loved the choice of music for the runway run too - excellent.

    Many thanks for the contribution. It is much appreciated.
     
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  3. Jawnee

    Jawnee Member

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    #3 Jawnee, Apr 2, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2018
    I think that I took 3 hours to get to the runway. I stopped a couple of times to ask if I was going the right way and at the mid-point to lower the pressure in my tires. With the continued improvements in the road and a good GPS you will soon be able to do it in 2 hours or less.

    It was a great feeling to make it to Long Tieng as it was one of the main items on my bucket list. If you are a history buff and a motorcyclist, it is almost like one of the holy grail of sites to try to ride to.

    I didn't check the speed on the runway, but I think it was 70kph or just below. The condition of the runway should allow you to go faster than that. It is not too rough and the pot holes appear to be deeper than they are in the video. An airplane with slightly bigger tires or a tail dragger would have no problems landing there tomorrow.
     
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  4. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

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    Well Done John, That's one of the Best Reports I have seen on Long Tieng. I still hope to get there one day and no doubt it will get more accessible as time passes. Great Videos. The Runway is a fair length and still in reasonable condition considering all the years that have passed.
     
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  5. Jawnee

    Jawnee Member

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    Yes. The condition of the runway surprised me. A lot of effort must have gone into the initial construction. You could easily land a high wing single engine tail dragger and a good pilot would have no problems with a nose wheel airplane.
     

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