Muang Sing, to where Laos, Myanmar, and China meet. The Green Triangle.

Moto-Rex

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Jan 5, 2008
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Muang Sing, to where Laos, Myanmar, and China meet. The Green Triangle.

The original plan was to take around four weeks riding in Laos, where I would check out a few tracks that I hadn’t ridden before, and see if I could incorporate a couple of remote boat trips to link up two of the tracks Id been looking at on Google earth.

The plan did require riding some big Kilometres, and I was probably trying to squeeze a bit to much riding into 4 weeks, but I thought Id give it ago anyway, and when on the morning of day one I began riding north out of Luang Namtra I felt confident that I could stick to the plan …… but when about 30kms up the road I stopped at the Muang Meung dirt turn off, I had a feeling even then, that the trip mite not go to plan.….I had never been so hot.

Looking west to where the dirt track would take me to Muang Sing, there was big plumes of smoke, and I guessed it was coming from a large bush fire. So I decided not to risk being barbequed, and took the hwy instead.

I hadn’t been on this road for years, and was amazed just how good it was.
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First of many drink spots.
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Local kids having a laugh at the red faced melting foreigner.
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I arrived in Luang Namtha after stopping several times for drinks, (I did have a camel bak with 3 litres but didn’t drink it in case I got a flat and was stuck in the heat), and headed straight for Manychan restaurant for an iced lemon juice, and to check the phone to see how hot it was.

The closest city on the weather app was Luang Prabang.

Yep, it was hot, and going to get hotter.
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After several cool drinks, it was back on the KLX to ride hwy 17A that run through the beautiful Nam Ha National Park, and on to Muang Sing.

The Muang Sing welcoming committee.
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After arriving in Muang Sing I got cleaned up, and went down to the tourist information office to see if it was possible to ride to the Green Triangle the next day. After trying to explain with no luck at all where I wanted to go, I pointed to the spot on a map, and guy said that there was no way I would be able to ride there because the police and army would stop me at Mon. which is about 30kms up the road.
The guy was very vague, so I asked a couple tour operators. One said there was no such place and there was nothing but jungle, and the other said the same as the tourist office, but I got the feeling no one really knew.
So I decided that the next day I would head towards the Green Triangle and see what happens, and if I make there, I would try and get a boat back down the Mekong to Xieng Kheng, and from there, ride back to Muang Sing. This was to be a one of three tracks that I really wanted to ride while on this trip in Laos.

Next morning, on the road that goes north out of Muang Sing.
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Nice cool start to the day, but it didn’t take long for the clouds to disappear, and the temperature to rise.
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These three young fellas were washing there bike in the river, but stopped to strike a pose for the camera.
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Mon city. The town where I was told the army and police would turn me around. I didn’t look sideways, I rode straight through without being questioned. So good….I was on my way.
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On the other side of Mon there is huge banana plantations that you follow for miles.
This is a Banana processing plant. Note the Chinese writing on the boxes. The bananas were washed, boxed, put on a big truck, and taken on a small road that goes into China only two kilometres away.

Funny thing, or not so funny, was I tried to buy a some bananas at the Muang Sing market, but they didn’t have any.
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Nice and cruzie through here.
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I just kept heading north.
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I came to these two tracks, which seemed to be going in the right direction, so I rode off down the wider one, and it came to an end in the middle of a Banana plantation. So I tried the other, which became very narrow and had think vegetation growing over it, which made me think that it wasn’t the right one either.
There was another larger track 200 metres back that had power lines next to it, but it was heading east instead of west, but I thought it mite turn west further along so I took it.
It didn’t, the track kept heading east, so I decided to see where it would take me anyway.
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Going east.
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It was a nice ride, and I came to this large village, I should have kept going a as there is a Border crossing into China only a few Kms further on, but I wanted to get to the Green Triangle that day so I turned around and went back.

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I got back to the fork in the road, and decided that the narrow over grown track that Id rode up to check out, had to be the one that goes to the Green Triangle, but it was now stinking hot, and as I didn’t have any idea what I would like, I also only had a few litres of water, so I decided to go back to Muang Sing, and have another shot at it in a day or two.

The track heading back with a Kawasaki Green puddle.
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This is the road that the bananas trucks use to get into China just 2 kilometres away. I wasn’t going to go down there, as behind me there were a lot of Lao and Chinese communist officials, and Johnny was hot.
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Back on the road to Muang Sing.
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Back in Muang Sing I had a beer and a feed, and started to think about the next shot at getting to the green Triangle.
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This lady was keeping busy between refuelling duties.
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I check into Phoulu2 resort. What a great place to stay. Its on the GT-Rider Laos map.
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I began that next attempt a couple days later leaving Phoulu2 at 6am so as to beat the heat, and carrying around 9 litres or water.
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I got to the turn off and began riding North west. From this point its beautiful lush jungle.
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There was a real sense of remoteness through here. You just don’t see anyone., and there was only one tyre mark on the track besides mine.
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This was one of the most enjoyable tracks I’ve ever ridden.
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Eventually you pop out of the jungle, and end up on a mountain ridge that looks over to Burma.
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After riding for a few kilometres along the ridge I came to a small village that looked like it had been ransacked. The track also appeared to come to an end, and I was still well short of the Green triangle.
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I turned off the bike, and as I sat there on the KLX trying to see if the track continued on some where, a guy come out of one of the huts. I have to admit to being a little worried for a second as he walked towards me as there was no one else around. But he was fine and pointed towards a gap in between to demolished huts to where the track started again.

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Burma in the distance, with what looked to be a track that had some recent work done to it, or maybe new.
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I was getting close to the Green Triangle when I came across this small village, and that village didn’t look much better then the ransacked one. The people were shocked to see me, but were very friendly. They only spoke Chinese, but I worked out, I had only 2 kilometres to go.
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Getting close, the first glimpse of the mighty Mekong
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And finally the Green Triangle.
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This seemed to be the immigration, customs, communication, and Premier League viewing hut.
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There were three army looking guys there. They didn’t seem very happy to see me, so I asked them if I could take a few photos and one of them just said OK. I also asked about getting a boat down to Xieng Kheng….he just laughed and said "no boat", and walked off.

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Check point building that’s no longer in use.
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There was a very well built boat ramp and stairs leading up to were the main check point was located. And looking around at the ramp and buildings, I would say at some stage this would have been a busy crossing. Even the track looked like it was once in good condition, but the jungle now is taking it over due to lack of use. Apart from the three army guys, there was no one, a no sign of any boats either.

The entry into Laos.
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You can just see the ramp in this photo. I wanted to get a few more photos, but there was two big dogs that were less than happy with my presence prevented me from doing so.
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Me striking the pose at the Green Triangle….How cool are those goggles?
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After a few photos it was time to head back to Muang Sing.

These next two photos will give you an idea of what the Chinese are getting up too.

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A small village north of Mon.
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This is there school.
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The young communist children were keen to learn. They where calm, but the teacher was going crazy.
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I ventured on,
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I was back in Muang Sing before it got too hot for a late lunch.
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And with wave goodbye from the locals, the next morning it was back down to Luang Nam Tha.
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I stayed a couple of nights in Luang Namtra, before heading back to Thailand, leaving a few tracks to be ridden next time. I was 7 days behind in my original plan, and Id had enough of the stifling heat. So I spent the rest of my time riding a few short rides, and spending a lot of time on beer, food and Karaoke in around Chaing Rai.

There’s a few photos of Muang Sing coming. soon.
 

brian_bkk

Ol'Timer
Mar 30, 2010
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Nice report Rex.. Another new adventure.

The narrow trail and the ransacked village look real interesting.

I remember that period of heat.. In Bangkok the temp was 39 in the day, feel like temp of 48 and 49c according to the weather channel.

Cheers
Brian
 

SilverhawkUSA

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Mar 15, 2003
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Good one, Rex! I don't think I have ever been in temps that hot. I tried to reach the Green Triangle a few years back. No matter what I tried, they were determined that I could not go past the Mon Army Checkpoint. They said too dangerous, maybe if I was not alone! I tried to follow some Lao locals who were riding that way, saying now I was not alone! At that point the Army officer in charge was getting a little tired of me, and advised it was best if I went back to Muang Sing.

Glad you made it. ;)
 

guichard

Ol'Timer
Jul 11, 2007
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Thanks again Rex for this interesting report. Pity you could not find any boat down to Xiengkok.
May be because very few villages on both banks,as I noticed some years ago from a chinese boat from Jinghong to Chiengsaen,having in mind to go back to this area on my bike.
Last Jan,I wanted to follow your track to Muang Et(Xam Neua) but my trip ended in LPQ hospital with a broken leg!
May be this winter....
Cheers, Lung.
 

DavidFL

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Jan 16, 2003
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Hey Rexy
What a little beauty -your perseverance finally paid off.
I like your "suck it & see again & again" attitude - you never gave up despite the heat.
So congratulations on getting to the Green Triangle - that's another big notch in your belt pulling that one off.
Now that you've done it - was it worth it in that heat?

I'm kinda glad a little bit too that you didn't get a boat alone from Hua Khong to Xieng Kok.

Because
http://ryanchicovsky.blogspot.com/
a case that has never been solved.

I met his Mum in Chiang Mai 3 year ago & she was still looking for him.

I've been to Xieng Kok a couple of times & each time it has given me the creepy crawlies, so I decided against spending a night there both times.
You all take care out there now.

Thanks for another invaluable GTR contribution Moto-Rex. :thumbup:
 

Moto-Rex

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Jan 5, 2008
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SilverhawkUSA;291682 wrote: Good one, Rex! I don't think I have ever been in temps that hot. I tried to reach the Green Triangle a few years back. No matter what I tried, they were determined that I could not go past the Mon Army Checkpoint. They said too dangerous, maybe if I was not alone! I tried to follow some Lao locals who were riding that way, saying now I was not alone! At that point the Army officer in charge was getting a little tired of me, and advised it was best if I went back to Muang Sing. Glad you made it. ;)
Most of the locals were still sure that I would be stopped at the army checkpoint at Mon and I would be prevented from going further, but as they didn’t stop me, I thought that maybe its not so dangerous any more, but , I will say, the area does have a bad vibe, and when I was almost cleaned up by a big black Chevy Suburban with dark tinted windows that pulled out of a side track in front of me, it did start me thinking…..I mean, you don't see any cars up there, and then theres a Black Chevy Suburban with black out windows….What the?
And I have to admit, about 10kms into the last jungle trail I was thinking “should I really be out here on my own.”
 

Moto-Rex

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Jan 5, 2008
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Heres a few photos from in and around Muang Sing, which is a great little town, that’s booming like many other in Laos.

The Muang Sing Market.

Get there around 6.30 am to see it when its at its best.

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Cute little kid helping out mum.
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Kids outside a school north of Muang Sing.
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Tai Lu Restaurant, great place for breakfast.
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Moto-Rex
 

fm2002

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Mar 3, 2007
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God damit MotoRex you're killing me with these trip reports. I'm so jealous ! I did a trip (which you were instrumental in planning) where we got off our bikes Northwest of Muang Sing and hiked down to the Mekong and hoped on a boat, but we only went down the river to Xieng Khaeng. Have to say the small part of the river we traveled was amazing. Fine white sand beaches and these cool black rock formations.
 

Moto-Rex

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Jan 5, 2008
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G'day there fm2002, good to hear from you.

A boat trip down from the Green Triangle to Xieng Kheng would have been nice, but no boat, no go. The ride itself was still great so no big deal.

I'm sure, like the section you travelled, would have been amazing as you found....it even looks great on google earth.

Cheers mate.

Moto-Rex
 

Moto-Rex

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Jan 5, 2008
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First attempt at "Relive"
I cant work out the BB Code so just click on the link.
It was 2013 when I rode this track (time fly's) and looking back Id forgotten just how thick the jungle was towards the Green Triangle.

Muang Sing to the Green Triangle.

 
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DavidFL

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First attempt at "Relive"
I cant work out the BB Code so just click on the link.
It was 2013 when I rode this track (time fly's) and looking back Id forgotten just how thick the jungle was towards the Green Triangle.

Muang Sing to the Green Triangle.

Relive 'Green Triangle'

That works well & looks amazing.
Did you just import your old GPS track into Relive?
 

Eoin Christie

Ol'Timer
Jul 16, 2019
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That is excellent, Rex - Thank you.
I’m heading up that way (follow-my-farang-nose plan) in October. I’m currently in Equatorial Guinea. Pick up my bike in KL on Thursday, day in the office on Friday, then Northbound to Muang Sing area on Saturday (with a few stops in between).
It’s about 15 years since I was last up there, and I’m not looking forward to some of the changes (banana plantations), but I am very much looking forward to the local immersion.
This trip of yours is probably my favourite amongst the many great reports on GT-Rider.
 

Eoin Christie

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Jul 16, 2019
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Now sitting in Muang Long, having come up from Houayxai via the Mekong track. The Chinese road-building is extending further and further North. In a year or two, I’m sure the seal will extend through to Xiengkok / Muang Long / Muang Sing. Ride it while you can.
 
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Eoin Christie

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Jul 16, 2019
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Some of it is still as it was and should be (if only for my benefit...). A few high-gravity zones in there, too, exerting overwhelming attraction to one or other of the handlebar ends.
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Moto-Rex

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Thanks for an update on the Mekong track, it will be a shame if they seal it, as it’s a really good dirt ride.

Well done on doing it with road tyres. That red clay is super slick, and tricky to navigate even on a dirt bike with off road tyres.

Brilliant stuff mate.

Moto-Rex
 

Eoin Christie

Ol'Timer
Jul 16, 2019
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It was a difficult, but extremely rewarding day, Moto-Rex. After passing (unintentionally - I was only going for a look) the point of no return, the mindset changed, and reality set in. That was exactly what I was seeking in this trip, and was why I wanted to do it alone.

It is a wonderful piece of Country, with Myanmar enticingly close all the way, and little villages making surprise appearances. Sealing the road may be good for transport (including that of the hardy villagers), but it will change it to another busy trucking route from / to China.

Thank you for the original report, which was a key motivator for me to revisit an area last experienced in a different mode 15 years ago. I hope you get back up there again in the not too distant future.