Pua (nan - Thailand) - Pak Beng

DavidFL

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Rider: David Unk
Bike: The Suzuki Vstrom 650
GTR-IMG_3257.JPG

6 days. Date: 4-9th April 2016
Out looking for some update info

It was a boiling hot ride across from Chiang Mai to Pua; & Ive never felt so hot out riding. It was the first big test for my handlebar hydration pack set up & I was amazed how I managed to drink 5 litres of water Chiang Mai - Pua. In Chiang Kham I had to stop for a bite to eat + top up the 3 litres camel bak. Yep Id managed to drink 3 litres in 230 kms from Mae Rim - Chiang Kham.

The handlebar hydration pack set up
24-4-2016 15-52-56 - IMG_6921.JPG


24-4-2016 15-52-35 - IMG_6920.JPG


It's 3 litres & you can sip along nicely as you go.
24-4-2016 15-53-55 - IMG_6923.JPG


Departure time from Mae Rim - Chiang Mai was 1.30PM & arrival time in Pua was 6.15PM

Here's the elevation profile Chiang Mai - Chiang Kham - 1148 - Tha Wang Pha - Pua
GPSProfile-Cnx-Pua.jpg


+ the GPS Travel time data
GPS Data - Cnx- Pua.jpg


More to come..
 
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DavidFL

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An easy start the next day it's off at 9.45AM heading for the border & Pak Beng

Marco's Siam Garden is the only stop en route to the border

The run up to the border is a beauty & generall "all up hill."
Pua - Huay Khon & the border
GTR-GPS-Pua-HuayKHon.jpg


GTR-GPS-Data-Pua-HuayKhon.jpg


The border on the Thai side
IMG_3253B.JPG


The officials on the Thai side are all nice & friendly.
If you need any photo copies there is a small shop on the right handside next to the "last noodle shop" beforeyou descend to the checkpoint.

On the Lao side is a slightly different story.
 
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DavidFL

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Relatively quick 'n easy on the Thi side.
The Laos side was one of those hot 'n irritating days.
Mentioned earlier here
Laos Border Crossings
but I will repeat the annoying process

Step 1 stop at the gate, let the policeman check your papers before you can proceed.
Step 2 get off your bike so he can look - rummage through your luggage
Step 3 move your bike 40 metres to the immigration office.
Step 4 ask the Foreign Affairs staff for the visa application form. He doesn't have them so
Step 5 ask the immigration officer for the visa application form. Fill out the form. Then
Step 6 take the visa application back to the Foreign Affairs officer, who will issue you with a visa
Step 7 take your passport with the visa back to the immigration officer who stamps you in
Step 8 pay an 80 baht tourist fee to the tourist official gleefully waiting to pounce & take your money.
Step 9 go back outside & walk back to the customs office hut & get the Lao customs temporary import papers filled out. The customs guy then passes your papers to the officer next door who check them
Step 10 get your Customs import papers back from the 2nd officer, who hopefully improves it & finds no errors. If there are errors he will hand the form back to the first guy who has to redo the whole form again. All the while you maybe sweating like a pig with your riding kit on.
Step 11 papers all done, get on your bike & ride another 50 metres to the exit gate & Hand all your papers in again for the policeman to check it all once more.
All done then you are on your way & 100 metres down the is the AGL insurance office where you can get your insurance.
Welcome to Laos & the PDR.

It's damn hot, but the road is a beauty to Pak Beng
GTR-IMG_3254.JPG


GTR-IMG_3257.JPG


GTR-IMG_3263.JPG


The elevation profile
GTR-GPS-ProfileHuayKhon-PakBeng.jpg


How it looks in Google Earth
From Pua to the border
GTR005.jpg


From the border to Pak Beng & the Mekong
GTR004.jpg


it's all a good surface & wonderful steep & rolling mountains
GTR-IMG_3260.JPG


I caught up to one massive fire burning in the mountains
GTR-IMG_3265.JPG

I rode past the fire, parked thought it would be cool to get a quick snap using a long lens with the fire in the background.
But the wind suddenly got up & the fire was racing along towards my bike.
There was a what if moment..while I raced back to get on my bike & push the starter button & not the shutter to get away safely.

The new bridge across the Mekong
GTR-IMG_3286.JPG

reported earlier here
The Pak Beng Mekong Bridge

from the bridge it is another 10.5 kms to downtown Pak Beng
& the road is still superb
GTR-IMG_3343.JPG


GTR-IMG_3297.JPG


Arrival Time in Pak Beng was 3.30 PM after a 9.45AM departure from Pua.

Pua - Pak Beng the elevation profile
GPS-Profile-Pua-PakBeng.jpg


131 kms & the GPS data fora leisurely cruise
GPS-Data-Pua-PakBEng.jpg


Where to Stay in Pak Beng

Where to Eat in Pak Beng

The number one view in Pak Beng
GTR-IMG_3314.JPG

from the Pak Beng Resort - already 2 years in building & still not finished.

The resort is being built by Khet a cool, connected, Lao guy & Ducati rider
DSC_0897.JPG

He has many stories to tell of the difficulty of building such a massive hill top resort in Pak Beng of all places.
When finished the resort will be the biggest in Northern Laos, if not Laos

The pool going in
IMG_3312.JPG

Enjoy..more to come.
 
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DavidFL

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A couple more view shots to confirm the majestic view from the Pak Beng Resort
GTR-PakBeng-IMG_3317.JPG


GTR-PakBeng-IMG_3315.JPG


It was a wild dusk on the mountain top too as a huge sand storm whipped in powering down the Mekong. You could hear the roar of the wind approaching long before it hit Pak Beng, as it howled along that river for kms.

The BKC was my place of stay in Pak Beng
IMG_3304.jpg


Nice rooms
IMG_3309.jpg

with a view over the river

IMG_3307.jpg


sitting watching the river flow I was gobsmacked to see a huge cruise boat come in
GTR-IMG_3352 (2).JPG

what the hell was that - a Chinese cruise ship?

The boat was moored over night & they seemed to have a bit of party going on.
DSC_0906.JPG
 

DavidFL

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2 nights in Pak Beng & one day of hanging out checking restaurants & accommodation
Some restaurant & hotel recommendations are
Pak Beng Restaurants
and
Pak Beng Accommodation

with a bit of time to spare then I thought Id make an attempt to check out the next dam on the Mekong.
The Pak Beng dam. Supposedly about 25-30 kms upstream from Pak Beng.
This dam is to be bigger - higher / wider than the Xayaboury dam downstream from Luang Prabang.
The access roads are going in from Pak Beng & as you come off the Pak Beng bridge there's the new new solid road being built, going upstream on the east side of the Mekong.
Supposedly this month - May, 5000 Chinese construction workers are being moved in to make sure it all goes full speed ahead.
So off I went for a quick look

The new road construction
GTR-IMG_3331.JPG

impressive, big solid drains.

Bridges still going in
GTR-IMG_3333.JPG


GTR-IMG_3334.JPG


Some sections almost ready for asphalt
GTR-IMG_3337.JPG


IMG_3332.JPG


I thought I was doing ok sneaking in for a look, but eventually I got flagged down & quizzed, what I was doing & where I was going.
I tried to plead ignorant & innocent started off to go on, but the response was immediately hostile, so turn around I did, to fight another day.
Back in Pak Beng I downloaded my track & it looks like this in google earth
GTR-PakBEng-PakNgeuy.jpg


+ the elevation profile
GTR002.jpg

a measley 16 kms upstream from Pak Beng, so a long way to go.
Dam dam you might say., plus multiple expletives.

Back to Pak Beng it was.
Now some info on the Pak Beng Dam, that appears to getting built on the quiet with little publicity at the moment.

What it is going to look like
GTR012.jpg


The dam is bigger than the Xayaboury dam
Higher & wider,
GTR010.jpg

with water backing up about 130 kms, to near Pak Tha / downstream from Chiang Khong

slide_17.jpg


Approximately 6,000 people will need to be resettled.
GTR010B.jpg


The Pak Beng dam for me is just another nail in the coffin of the Mekong, sad to say.
Other dams & their builders planned for the Mekong
GTR007.jpg


How the dams are going to line up
pakbeng_cascademap.jpg

one interesting fact that I've seen come out of all this is that between Chiang Saen in Thailand & Kratie in Cambodia, they estimate that 55% of the Mekong will be converted into reservoirs.

So if you're out there riding by that fabulous river, or doing a boat trip, enjoy it while you can, because in another 10 years it wont look anywhere near as exciting.

More to come.
 
Last edited:

brian_bkk

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Certainly some nice tarmac around there...
Even on the KLX with the dirt tyres, hard to not enjoy leaning it over.

Shame all the dams going up.. Be interesting to see what happens with neighbourly relations when the Xnankham dam goes in.

Cheers
Brian
 

Ian Bungy

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The amount of Dams is Staggering! There is No Way they can Deny that all those Dams will have a Major Impact on the River, the Environment and eventually all of Us! Sad!
 

DavidFL

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Day 4
Good morning Pak Beng
GTR-IMG_3362.JPG


Time to move on Pak Beng - Oudom Xai.
R2W - what used to be one of my favourite roads & rides in Laos, om account of the gorgeous Tai Lue villages & narrow winding country lane road.

Oudom Xai - Pak Beng 1995
291562=16286-GTR-UX-PakBeng-1995B.jpg


it's not quite the same any more, of course.
For anyone interested there are some early Laos Golden Oldies here.
1st Laos Trips 1995

In October 2008 after the rainy season it looked like this
CRW_1221.jpg


CRW_1158.jpg


CRW_1158.jpg


More images from 2008 here
Re-mapping Northern Laos City Maps.
if anyone wants to take a look at the pristine environment then.

but today it was hot dry 'n dusty
GTR-IMG_3377.JPG


16 kms east of Pak Beng is the new Nam Beng dam
GTR-IMG_3367.JPG


GTR-IMG_3380.JPG

a dirty grubby site it is too.

+ the road is chopped up by the heavy traffic
GTR-IMG_3375.JPG


GTR-IMG_3376.JPG


GTR-IMG_3379.JPG


Further on up the road there are some ongoing road improvements
GTR-IMG_3397.JPG



GTR-IMG_3390.JPG


Interesting a few villages seemed to be "fenced of" around their properties. I don't recall seeing this very often in Laos upcountry.
GTR-IMG_3392.JPG



GTR-IMG_3391.JPG


& then there were the kms of Chinese banana plantations.
GTR-IMG_3388.JPG


their discarded fertilizer bags littered the roadside plus even more alarmingly, the streams!
GTR-IMG_3384.JPG


GTR-IMG_3385.JPG


a less than enjoyable ride, but you learn something new everyday.

Oudom Xai soon beckoned
GTR-IMG_3399.JPG


It was a leisurely, disturbing cruise
GTR-PakBeng-OudomXai-017.jpg

140 kms approximately & 3 1/4 hrs riding time, navigating the dust & bumpy road conditions.

Here's the elevation profile for those interested
GTR-PakBeng-OudomXai-018.jpg


Departure time from Pak Beng was 11.45 AM
Arrival time in Oudom Xai was 5.15PM

A bit more more to come
 

DavidFL

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Pottering around Oudom Xai

Wat Nalea - an old temple across the river to the S-W of Oudom Xai.
About 3 kms from the centre of downtown Oudom Xai.
IMG_3413.JPG


IMG_3416.JPG

GPS Location: N20 40.421 E101 58.097
 

DavidFL

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2 nights in Pak Beng & one day of hanging out checking restaurants & accommodation
Some restaurant & hotel recommendations are
Pak Beng Restaurants
and
Pak Beng Accommodation

with a bit of time to spare then I thought Id make an attempt to check out the next dam on the Mekong.
The Pak Beng dam. Supposedly about 25-30 kms upstream from Pak Beng.
This dam is to be bigger - higher / wider than the Xayaboury dam downstream from Luang Prabang.
The access roads are going in from Pak Beng & as you come off the Pak Beng bridge there's the new new solid road being built, going upstream on the east side of the Mekong.
Supposedly this month - May, 5000 Chinese construction workers are being moved in to make sure it all goes full speed ahead.
So off I went for a quick look

The new road construction
View attachment 326
impressive, big solid drains.

Bridges still going in
View attachment 327

View attachment 328

Some sections almost ready for asphalt
View attachment 329

View attachment 331

I thought I was doing ok sneaking in for a look, but eventually I got flagged down & quizzed, what I was doing & where I was going.
I tried to plead ignorant & innocent started off to go on, but the response was immediately hostile, so turn around I did, to fight another day.
Back in Pak Beng I downloaded my track & it looks like this in google earth
View attachment 330

+ the elevation profile
View attachment 325
a measley 16 kms upstream from Pak Beng, so a long way to go.
Dam dam you might say., plus multiple expletives.

Back to Pak Beng it was.
Now some info on the Pak Beng Dam, that appears to getting built on the quiet with little publicity at the moment.

What it is going to look like
View attachment 332

The dam is bigger than the Xayaboury dam
Higher & wider,
View attachment 333
with water backing up about 130 kms, to near Pak Tha / downstream from Chiang Khong

View attachment 334

Approximately 6,000 people will need to be resettled.
View attachment 335

The Pak Beng dam for me is just another nail in the coffin of the Mekong, sad to say.
Other dams & their builders planned for the Mekong
View attachment 336

How the dams are going to line up
View attachment 337
one interesting fact that I've seen come out of all this is that between Chiang Saen in Thailand & Kratie in Cambodia, they estimate that 55% of the Mekong will be converted into reservoirs.

So if you're out there riding by that fabulous river, or doing a boat trip, enjoy it while you can, because in another 10 years it wont look anywhere near as exciting.

More to come.


Bangkok admits inability to regulate new Lao dam

Bangkok admits inability to regulate new Lao dam - The Nation

The Nation July 25, 2016 1:00 am
THE WATER Resources Department has admitted it is beyond the Thai government’s power to challenge the Pak Beng Dam project in Laos and the only way to review the project is through the Mekong River Commission (MRC).
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)'s subcommittee on communal rights and natural resource management has arranged a meeting on Friday focusing on human rights violations regarding the upcoming hydropower dam projects on the Mekong and Salween rivers.

People who are concerned about transboundary impacts of the dams and relevant agencies are invited to submit information to the subcommittee.

Phadon Thavornkritrat, Water Resources Department deputy director-general, said the only means to regulate projects on the mainstream Mekong River was through the MRC but Laos still has not notified the commission about its intention to begin work on the Pak Beng Dam.

"There are worries that the Pak Beng Dam construction will begin soon, [but] currently the first step to start the project has not yet begun because building such a project on the mainstream Mekong River requires consideration through the Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement [PNPCA] first," Phadon said.

The PNPCA is the notification process specified by the MRC process.

"The Thai government has no authority to protest a dam built inside Laos's territory. We cannot express our concern about their project now, because they still have not notified their intention to start the project to the MRC."

However, people from Chiang Rai have protested limiting action to only the PNPCA procedure and urged for strict new rules to regulate projects on the mainstream Mekong River.

"We do not trust the MRC anymore. We need a new mechanism that can thoroughly inspect projects and have the power to stop harmful [ones]. The PNPCA procedure is just a stamp to approve the projects. It cannot really protect our international river from harmful development," Rak Chiang Khong Conservation Group chairman Niwat Roikaew said. He added that project owners should have to pay compensation for damage caused by projects but in reality dam projects are underway across the Lower Mekong Region at an unstoppable rate making it impossible to find out which dams caused damage and who should be compensated.

"The damage from the dams to river ecology is irreversible and the livelihood of people will be destroyed forever if we do nothing to stop those dams," he said.

In response, Phadon said the MRC was the only entity that could provide a stage for four countries in the Lower Mekong Basin to discuss development projects on the river. Without the MRC and PNPCA procedures, Laos would continue with dam projects without consultation with affected countries, he said.

"This is all about foreign affairs and we have to treat it with extra care," he said. "We have to understand that the issues concerning international relationships are very sensitive and we have to admit that we cannot make things go the way we want all the time."

Maha Sarakham University lecturer Chainarong Sretthachau said authorities were often not interested in protecting the Mekong River and marginalised people who depend on the river. He suggested Thai representatives to the MRC should include someone from the Mekong River region, not only bureaucrats from Bangkok.

Thongsuk Inthawong, village head of Ban Huai Leuk in Chiang Rai's Wiang Kaen, said the dam's threat to the village, which is situated close to the dam site, included a risk of flooding and ecological devastation that would badly hurt residents who depend on the river for fishing and farming.

Thongsuk said not only people on the Thailand side would suffer from the dam, as at least 14 villages in Laos would also be affected. He added that there had been evictions in some villages already in preparation for construction, which has already begun.

Pak Beng Dam is a hydropower dam project owned by the Chinese firm Datang International Power Generation Co in cooperation with the Lao government. The site of the dam is in Pakbaeng district in Oudomxay province, 80 kilometres downstream from Ban Huai Leuk.

The dam will have a generating capacity of 912 megawatts and is scheduled to start next year.​
 

DavidFL

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11 November 2016

Laos moves ahead with plan for third Mekong dam

Laos has notified its Southeast Asian neighbours that it's moving ahead with a third contentious hydro dam on the Mekong River's mainstream.
The Mekong River Commission, an organisation that groups Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand for joint management of the river, said in a statement it has received notice from Laos that it will undertake a process of consultation about the Pak Beng dam.
In the previous consultation cases for the Xayaburi and Don Sahong dams, Laos pressed forward with the projects despite vociferous objections from the other countries, scientists and conservationists. It has already begun preparatory work for the 912-megawatt Pak Beng dam in the northern province of Oudomxay.
Critics of the dams say they will damage wild fisheries and a rice bowl delta that support 60 million people in the region. The river basin is already under pressure from dozens of dams already built on Mekong tributaries.
The commission's relevance as a transboundary organisation has been undermined by Laos, as well as its own internal failings. Foreign donors have cut financial assistance and the commission's staff numbers have been slashed.
But it said in the statement that despite the lack of agreement, the consultation process for the Xayaburi dam had resulted in the Lao government and the project's Thai developer spending an additional $400 million on design changes that could mitigate some of its damaging effects.
The government of Communist Party-ruled Laos sees hydro-electricity exports as a way to develop its impoverished economy and plans up to nine dams on the Mekong mainstream.
But by jeopardising wild fisheries, it might add to its own food security problems. The World Food Program says nearly half of children under the age of five in Laos suffer from chronic malnutrition and stunting.
Source: Bangkok Post​
 

DavidFL

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Day 4
& then there were the kms of Chinese banana plantations.
View attachment 371

their discarded fertilizer bags littered the roadside plus even more alarmingly, the streams!
View attachment 373

View attachment 372

a less than enjoyable ride, but you learn something new everyday.

gtr-img_3388-jpg.jpg


Those damn poisonous banana plantations - at last some action from the Lao government.

Chinese banana farms in Laos halted for using hazardous chemicals

CHINESE farms in several provinces in Laos have been suspended because of their use of hazardous chemicals that are having negative impacts on people’s health and the environment.

The Prime Minister’s Office ordered farms preparing to cultivate banana trees to cease their efforts, while thousands of hectares of banana plantations that have already planted the trees will not be allowed to plant any more suckers after harvesting their crops.

Onkeo Ounralom, director of the Oudomxay provincial Planting and Investment Department, told the media on Friday that banana farms in a number of provinces had been found to be using hazardous chemicals after checks by state and international agencies.

Onkeo said it was regrettable that the reports did not mention which provinces used the chemicals, only stating that banana plantations in the north of the country were at fault.

“We will halt the banana plantations but at the same time we don’t want to lose these Chinese investors from the country; in Oudomxay we will plant other clean crops instead,” he said.

The northern provinces of Bokeo, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Phongsaly mainly grow bananas for export to China.

Onkeo said there are about 6,000 hectares of banana trees from 23 companies in Oudomxay.

It is not only northern Laos that has Chinese banana farms, but there are also hundred of hectares of them in Vientiane province and the capital itself.

An official from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Phoukham Louangsouphon, said the Prime Minister’s Office had ordered a halt to all commercial banana plantations.

Oudomxay and Luang Namtha provinces are the major centres for banana plantations in the country, he said.

According to a National Assembly report in October, some provinces were using too many insecticides, pesticides and chemical fertilisers, but this matter did not feature in reports submitted to the assembly.

Some people became ill and some had allegedly died after the spraying of pesticides on farms, but the reports did not say where this had occurred.

There have been no bananas from Chinese farms in the provinces for sale in local markets as the farms send all their fruit straight to China. These bananas are packed in cardboard boxes for immediate export to China after they are harvested.

Source: Chinese banana farms in Laos halted for using hazardous chemicals - The Nation
 

DavidFL

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Relatively quick 'n easy on the Thi side.
The Laos side was one of those hot 'n irritating days.
Mentioned earlier here
Laos Border Crossings
but I will repeat the annoying process

Step 1 stop at the gate, let the policeman check your papers before you can proceed.
Step 2 get off your bike so he can look - rummage through your luggage
Step 3 move your bike 40 metres to the immigration office.
Step 4 ask the Foreign Affairs staff for the visa application form. He doesn't have them so
Step 5 ask the immigration officer for the visa application form. Fill out the form. Then
Step 6 take the visa application back to the Foreign Affairs officer, who will issue you with a visa
Step 7 take your passport with the visa back to the immigration officer who stamps you in
Step 8 pay an 80 baht tourist fee to the tourist official gleefully waiting to pounce & take your money.
Step 9 go back outside & walk back to the customs office hut & get the Lao customs temporary import papers filled out. The customs guy then passes your papers to the officer next door who check them
Step 10 get your Customs import papers back from the 2nd officer, who hopefully improves it & finds no errors. If there are errors he will hand the form back to the first guy who has to redo the whole form again. All the while you maybe sweating like a pig with your riding kit on.
Step 11 papers all done, get on your bike & ride another 50 metres to the exit gate & Hand all your papers in again for the policeman to check it all once more.
All done then you are on your way & 100 metres down the is the AGL insurance office where you can get your insurance.
Welcome to Laos & the PDR.

It's damn hot, but the road is a beauty to Pak Beng
View attachment 254

View attachment 255

View attachment 257

The elevation profile
View attachment 256

How it looks in Google Earth
From Pua to the border
View attachment 258

From the border to Pak Beng & the Mekong
View attachment 259

it's all a good surface & wonderful steep & rolling mountains
View attachment 260

I caught up to one massive fire burning in the mountains
View attachment 261
I rode past the fire, parked thought it would be cool to get a quick snap using a long lens with the fire in the background.
But the wind suddenly got up & the fire was racing along towards my bike.
There was a what if moment..while I raced back to get on my bike & push the starter button & not the shutter to get away safely.

The new bridge across the Mekong
View attachment 262
reported earlier here
The Pak Beng Mekong Bridge

from the bridge it is another 10.5 kms to downtown Pak Beng
& the road is still superb
View attachment 263

View attachment 264

Arrival Time in Pak Beng was 3.30 PM after a 9.45AM departure from Pua.

Pua - Pak Beng the elevation profile
View attachment 265

131 kms & the GPS data fora leisurely cruise
View attachment 266

Where to Stay in Pak Beng

Where to Eat in Pak Beng

The number one view in Pak Beng
View attachment 267
from the Pak Beng Resort - already 2 years in building & still not finished.

The resort is being built by Khet a cool, connected, Lao guy & Ducati rider
View attachment 268
He has many stories to tell of the difficulty of building such a massive hill top resort in Pak Beng of all places.
When finished the resort will be the biggest in Northern Laos, if not Laos

The pool going in
View attachment 269
Enjoy..more to come.

The Le Grand Pak Beng resort has finally opened.

Congratulations to Ket on finally getting the job done.
If you've got a nice budget don't miss Le Grand Pak Beng for a night, or perhaps just an awesome happy hour.
 

Oddvar

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That pool looked great. Can't wait to soak in with a bucket of Beer Lao.