Mr. KTM version of the Laos trip with pictures

Feb 23, 2003
Ok kids, gather around for the story of ktm boy, formerly known as beemer boy as he wrings out his new ktm 950 . As I do so many trips while my wonderful girlfriend waits at home for me, this was to be a sort of girlfriend trip. She had never been to Laos so this was a chance to go along with five other Thai women friends and wives, along with five guys. Also one really cool English mom of one of the guys. So here is a photo of Joe and myself finishing breakfast in Chiang Mai prior to leaving. In case I wreck the bike always like to have a before picture.

Low water on the Mekong, looking from the Thai side. The Chinese have built a lot dams upstream, so now the water is at the lowest levels anyone has seen.

Loading the bike in a small boat for the trip across. Five guys just sort of muscle the bike up and over into the boat. Feels real tippy as well. Started to have visions of my ktm sitting at the bottom of the Mekong. Any concerns voiced to the the boat guys in Thai always gets back the standard response... " no problem!"

Spent one night there on the Laos side. All the girls were already there along with David as they had taken up a van the day before and crossed the river. Here the bike is loaded on a big boat we had chartered to go down the river to Luang Prabang. Ended up with four bikes on board, and about eleven people. Thank heaven for that stubby ktm windshield.......

Sunset on the Mekong looking over to the Thai side we had just left. The smoke from all the burning of the fields make for some nice sunsets.

World famous GT rider David Unkovich and his son in a nice picture. He had spent a lot of work and had sort of organized the whole trip which everyone appreciated.

We spent about one whole day on the boat going down river towards Luang Prabang. Thai girls who are expert in all things food had purchased a lot of supplies before we left on the boat. Here is my girlfriend cooking up lunch at the small area in the very back of the boat.

Shot from the inside of the boat. Have to give the captain credit. He steered the boat downriver avoiding rocks and whirlpools for the ENTIRE 9 hours of the trip. Never saw him leave the helm.

Arrived at Luang Prabang at night, final hour being steered by moonlight. Here is the nighttime off loading of David's Africa Twin. No pics of my ktm being off loaded as I was right in the thick of it myself helping.

An amazing aspect of Laos law is that there is no age limit for riding a motorcycle. Here is the daughter of the boat captain. I saw them the next day in town. If you look back at the picture of the inside of the boat you can see the back of her head. I think she has grown up on the boat, and was just as cute as can be.

Self portrait of ktm boy with his girlfriend down near a small river next to Luang Prabang. Not sure why there is a sort of evil glint to my eye.......

Here is a waterfall that we all went to on a day trip out of town. There was a big fall upstream, and this is a local guy having fun in a small fall downstream.

Young monks sitting on a tree that extended way out over the cliff. You can see the very small people down below about 100 feet below the cliff.

My friend Joe and I having lunch at a small cafe overlooking the Mekong.

Uninvited lunch guest that dropped out the tree above. Harmless I think but I performed no field tests....

We took a boat across the Mekong to look around the other side. Here are some local kids having fun. They are poor beyond comprehension to the average westerner, but to them it is just another fun day at the riverbank with their buds.

The soil is rich along the banks of the river so they grow crops along that strip. No power of course so they dip the river and water by hand.

I had been joking with Joe earlier about swimming across the Mekong. Well, one thing led to another under his subtle goading and then next thing I knew I was swimming the Mekong. The most important thing to know is that I am a average swimmer at best, still coasting along on memories of when I was in good condition thirty years ago. Here is what it looks from the town side. I started from the other side. By the way the current is strong in case you are thinking it does not look that far.

Now here is the funny part. Joe was going to have the boat follow behind me is case I got in trouble in the middle. So I am think either glory awaits me, or a mid stream pickup in case things go bad. So I walked upstream about 500 meters on the riverbank to account for the current drift and started swimming across , thinking the boat would soon follow me. It never took off, staying on the river bank. About halfway across I realized I had seriously misjudged current speed which would make the swim a very very long one. I start waving my arms for a boat pickup. Nothing...... What had started as a lark had now changed into swimming for my life. I was also being swept down towards the commerical docking area with lots of boats going in and out. So I had to pick up swimming speed to make the bank area I wanted to land at. I made it but barely. When I had was almost there now the rescure boat comes zooming over. Seems they had engine trouble the captain had to fix on the spot. Almost there. Yes !! I get to live another day !!!

Here is the face of exhaustion. I asked the boat guy afterwards if he had seen anyone swim across before. He looked at me like I was nuts and said he had never seen anyone do it before. That will teach me to get some local knowledge next time !!!!!

School is out in a village up in the hills between Luang Prabang and Vientiane. They either walk or ride bikes home to have lunch.

Here are some kids along the side of the road in a very small village. Seems their big entertainment is to yell hello in Laos and wave like mad whenever you come by on a big bike. Made us feel like rock stars. We were speculating that it may be a government mandate to boost tourism.. :rofl

Yeah baby , that's what I'm talking about !!!!!! Dream riding through an amazing road transversing jungle-like mountains, shot by my girlfriend from the back of my bike. That is David and Jason in front. Hate to anger people looking out their windows at snow right now, but could not resist.

More of the same road.

Ok, break time.......
Feb 23, 2003
Ok, I am back. Had to run up to the Laos border yesterday for visa issues with my bike import. Let see...... Ahh now heading south torwards Vientiane. Stopped for the night in a small town named Vang Viang which is sort of a must stop on the world back packer tour. Very pretty, the town is right on the river where a lot of people do rafting. We stayed in a very nice resort on the river as well, which was owned by a friend of a friend. A week later the bungalow we stayed in burned down in a major fire that destroyed a lot of the resort. Just really bad luck. Here is the view looking out towards the river.

Now we have arrived in the capital of Laos, Vientiane. Definitely shows it roots as part of the French Indochina empire. Monument in the center of town.

The boys all lined up in front of a temple .

The quick and the dead........ The guys here LOVE their bikes and and some of them trick them out extensively. The other bike that looks completely dead is somewhat deceptive. I have see many bikes that look exactly like that, and start with one kick. A tribute to the reliabity of these small bikes .

Two beauties........

This was on the grounds of a temple. I asked her to look ferocious but it did not really work. That Thai smile punched its way through.....Ok, this is the last girlfriend picture I will punish you with. I did say at the start this was a girlfriend trip. You were warned!

Local tuk tuk. Almost looks like pop art from the sixties. They use an old design rotary valve two stroke engine. Guess someone must have bought the production dies!!!

This is the bed of the Mekong river. It is so dry now an island has formed in the middle with a small link so you can drive out on it.

One of many riverside dinners on the Mekong for us. Every night many beer Laos had to die on our behalf.

All the girls headed back via bus and airplane to Chiang Mai. Dave was off doing mapping work, so Joe and I had planned on heading down to Cambodia. A quick blast down to spend the night in Paxse, which is near the border. Next day a stop at the high powered border crossing and on into Cambodia. Will post the remainder of the trip in the Cambodia section.