Pua (nan - Thailand) - Pak Beng

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Apr 24, 2016.

  1. #1 DavidFL, Apr 24, 2016
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
    Rider: David Unk
    Bike: The Suzuki Vstrom 650
    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

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

    More to come..
  2. The recommended place of stay in Pua for me in The Chomphu Phukha Resort
    Pua Accommodation

    Night time was a relaxing one in the "fresh" slightly smoked night open air at the new Seeds Pub

  3. #3 DavidFL, Apr 26, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2016
    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


    The border on the Thai side

    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.
  4. #4 DavidFL, May 15, 2016
    Last edited: May 15, 2016
    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



    The elevation profile

    How it looks in Google Earth
    From Pua to the border

    From the border to Pak Beng & the Mekong

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

    I caught up to one massive fire burning in the mountains
    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
    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


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

    Pua - Pak Beng the elevation profile

    131 kms & the GPS data fora leisurely cruise

    Where to Stay in Pak Beng

    Where to Eat in Pak Beng

    The number one view in Pak Beng
    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
    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
    Enjoy..more to come.
  5. A couple more view shots to confirm the majestic view from the Pak Beng Resort


    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

    Nice rooms
    with a view over the river


    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.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. #6 DavidFL, May 18, 2016
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
    2 nights in Pak Beng & one day of hanging out checking restaurants & accommodation
    Some restaurant & hotel recommendations are
    Pak Beng Restaurants
    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
    impressive, big solid drains.

    Bridges still going in


    Some sections almost ready for asphalt


    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

    + the elevation profile
    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

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


    Approximately 6,000 people will need to be resettled.

    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

    How the dams are going to line up
    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.
  7. 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.

  8. 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!
  9. Here's an other interesting weak image of how the dams will look in profile.
    all scary stuff IMHO.
  10. Day 4
    Good morning Pak Beng

    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

    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



    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

    16 kms east of Pak Beng is the new Nam Beng dam

    a dirty grubby site it is too.

    + the road is chopped up by the heavy traffic



    Further on up the road there are some ongoing road improvements


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


    & then there were the kms of Chinese banana plantations.

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


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

    Oudom Xai soon beckoned

    It was a leisurely, disturbing cruise
    140 kms approximately & 3 1/4 hrs riding time, navigating the dust & bumpy road conditions.

    Here's the elevation profile for those interested

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

    A bit more more to come
  11. 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.

    GPS Location: N20 40.421 E101 58.097

  12. 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.​
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Great info and updates. Time for another visit to the region!
  14. 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​
  15. gtr-img_3388-.

    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

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