Luang Prabang - Kasi - Vang Vieng - Thalat

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Feb 13, 2003.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    11 FEB 2003
    Supposedly a risky ride in view of the bus robbery & 11 killings just north of Vang Vieng a few days before.
    My info (from the local Lao police) is that this was a local bus robbery; another non-police piece of gossip, is that the robbers were after a (local?) Hmong guy returning from the US with a surplus of cash to spend. This tends to confirm why the event took place at a village right on the main road so close to Vang Vieng.
    Just note on this: personally I don't consider a robbery / or shooting a threat serious enough to deter you from riding in Laos. For me it is more dangerous just riding my bike to the Lao border from Chiang Mai & getting runover by a bus / truck in Thailand, than being robbed / shot in Laos. And consider, that if you live in the US or any "developed" western country, there are robberies & shootings almost everyday, & that does NOT deter you from living in your own country. 3,000 people were killed in the WTC terrorist attack in the US & no travel advisory was put out NOT to go the USA! So for me riding a motorbike in northern Laos is safer than living in most western countries.

    Anyway onto the nitty gritty.......
    Travel time from Luang Prabang to Thalat, by the beautiful Ngam Ngum dam was 5 hrs 5 mins. I left LP at 8.43 am & arrived in Thalat at 3.06 pm. Short drink stops were had in Kiu Kacham, Kasi & Vang Vieng.
    Brief road notes are.
    1. The actual road, route 13, is in better condition than it as a year ago. There are a lot of road works, with the road generally wider and more "solid."
    2. But because of the road works there is lot of loose metal stone on many sections. The worst bits were Luang Prabang - Kiu Kacham, Kiu Kacham - Phou Khoun (not as bad), Phou Khoun - Kasi, this section also had quite a bit of loose gravel in places.
    3. Kasi - Vang Vieng is fine & a nice smooth fast flowing asphalt road. You can really make up time in this section.
    4. Vang Vieng - Phonhong is awesome with 70 kms of flowing 3rd gear undulating twisties through the hills. The asphalt gets real hot here so you can slide the bike around nicely in most corners. Just "watch out" for the single lane bridges around blind corners, & 6-wheel trucks having a bit of a race too!
    5. Phonhong - Thalat is "normal". The road is a bit narrow, bumpy & with a lot of villages so that you can't carry much speed.

    Keep the power on
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  3. pirip

    pirip Active Member

    Hiya David,
    good to hear no problems on the way!
    I take it all the roads around vang-vieng have re-opened?
    Notice much of a police/army presence on the road?
    Agree with your comments on the vang-vieng - thalat road, can nicely let rip!
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Yes the roads around Vang Vieng are all open.
    From what I can gather, they were only closed for a few hours - maybe just half a day/ overnight.

    There were the usual guys with guns along the road, on most of the long steep uphill climbs. To be honest you never quite know who they are - army / police / locals, as they are not in uniform. It would be interesting if you ever came to a road block manned by armed men in normal clothes. You just would not know who they really were until you approached & spoke to them - & then it could be too late. If you panicked & turned around & fled, they might open fire, regardless of who they were; and if they were robbers, you'd get robbed, & hypothetically shot. Either way, it could well be a stressful no win situation, & one that I have fortunately not yet had to deal with.

    I'll be back up in Vang Vieng in a few days & look up your friend.

    Right now I am waiting in Vte to see if I can get an extension on my 2 week bike import permit. I will know tomorrow, plus all the info about the new policy of NO Thai registered bikes coming into Vientiane across the bridge at Nong Khai.
    I met Belgian Roland on a Thai registered Africa Twin in Luang Prabang a few days ago and he had great trouble getting in at Vte. At first he was refused, then he parked the bike at the bridge & taxi-ed into Vte, and got an agent to go back to the bridge with him to clear his bike through. Cost 3,500 baht. Roland has been into Lao several times with Thai registered bikes & knows the system, so the new "NO Thai bikes" policy is for real at the Friendship bridge.
    Roland if you're reading this mate, how about making some report on your trip in Laos (& also some in Cambodia.)

    Phil, pls let me / know how you went getting your bike out of Laos last trip.

    Keep the power on
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    A bit more info & the final report from me on the killings just out of Vang Vieng. My info comes from a ghouse owner in Kasi.
    The owner says that: It was a local Kasi bus going to Vientiane. Every morning the Kasi merchants, flush with cash, board the (same) 1st bus for Vientiane, to stock up on supplies for their outlets in Kasi. Except for one Vientiane vendor, all the people killed on the bus were Kasi merchants. The 2 Swiss cyclists & 1 iron buffalo driving farmer got caught in the gunfire "accidentally."
    Supposedly the Laos police / army, have already caught some of the culprits & they are no longer around. At a guess, any others caught can expect the same treatment.
    So end of the story, not more bus robberies on route 13? You can all come back now.

    Keep the power on
  6. pirip

    pirip Active Member

    hiya David,
    Thanks for the info, going back in a couple of weeks, via Houy xai again.
    i wasnt aware of the NO THAI REGISTERED BIKES going in at the friendship bridge(what brought that on?) Good luck with the bike extension. My friend from vang-vieng managed to contact me on friday, but thanks for that.

    I got my bike out by pure luck and blagging skills. I had a couple of farewell vientienne, sunset , riverside beer Laos' and headed too the bridge just after dark.
    At this time it was full of lorries and cars leaving Laos.
    The laos side was the easiest.
    They just got me to get my passport stamped and then waved me on. The bike was sitting in front of the booth with a couple of customs guys standing next to it! (what luck!!)
    The Thai side was a bit more tricky ( had my remaining money left, in kip, thinking it was more likely i would have to "tip" the Laos side, so became my main worry i wouldn't be able to pay any "fines")
    After showing the first booth my photocopy and explaining the houy xai story, he had a quick look at the bike and seemed happy enough, just reminded me i should have proper paperwork in future and pay my taxes etc. He was a very nice guy though.
    Then got sent to a second booth who weren't quite as happy, but after 5mins of disscusion with a few comrades, they decided it was "the slack staff at houy xai " who had caused this problem and as a monkey falang i obviously didn't know any better.
    Off i went , no money asked for , big grin on my face all the way to the g/h in nong khai ! (blagged again )

    Where are you heading next, if you get extension?

    Good luck........Phil.....
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    In Phonsavanh right now. Did not get an extension approved in Vte, as they would not accept the application from a different agent (Vieng Champa) as to the one who did the original paperwork (Phou Doi). So I left the papers with Phou Doi Vte & headed for the hills.
    Went out to the Vietnam border at Nam Kanh/ Nong Het today & this border is now a full legal international border crossing for farang.
    In Vte the official line is NO Thai registered bikes into Laos from Nong Khai. My agent in Vte says that they don’t think they can get my unregistered bike in anymore, so stick to Bo Keo (Huay Sai) where the policy is different. Even registered bikes are supposedly not let in. Supposedly the reason is that there are too many stolen Thai bikes coming across, so they have put up the shutters are none are allowed in. How long this will stay in force I don’t know.
    Anyway I should be back in Vte in about another 5 days & will know about a temp bike import extension & maybe some more on the import of Thai bikes over the bridge.

    Keep the power on

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