Route13 South Vientiane - Don Khong

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
12,521
2,944
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
Continued from
Loei - Chiang Khan - Nong Khai

and

Dad'n Dave Go To Dan Sai - Phi Ta Khon 2009

I managed to sneak in across the Friendship Bridge with a special one-off permit.
588696340_atb9L-M.jpg

This is a bit better than having to ride 140 kms downstream from Nong Khai to Bun Kan, get on a car ferry to cross the Mekong to Pakxan & then ride back upstream 150 kms to Vientiane.

After a mere 3 quiet nights in Vientiane it was time to hit the road south on Route 13 to Don Khong + the Mekong Falls at Khone Phapaeng.

Route 13 South is not the same as Route 13 North & lacks a few corners.
590109193_YdmgG-M.jpg


590108699_mpMAX-M.jpg
590108883_YQB7h-M.jpg


Fortunately for me the weather was absolutely glorious & I had a superb run south.

590109684_FrCZG-M.jpg


590109516_FNNCu-M.jpg


Plus you had the Tigo signs to brighten up your journey along the way.
590108488_mrQcG-M.jpg


590109826_GvaiG-M.jpg


590110128_2jUiY-M.jpg


A tight corner on R13 South
590109053_uQw2S-M.jpg


The weather was so good that the road did not even feel boring: the air 'n sky was so fresh, clean & blue + magnificent green fields...I thought life was really good, even on a flat straight road!

590112890_9caDJ-M.jpg


590113283_UcQs9-M.jpg


590113414_peitU-M.jpg
590113109_oMhH8-M.jpg


Indeed it was so good it felt intoxicating & I did not even need a beer!
590113156_SsDVb-M.jpg


590110002_rrXxD-M.jpg


But get intoxicated & crash & you might end up at the Nasaad Regional Hospital
590113645_gwkGf-M.jpg


Somewhere you would not want to end up in Laos - the local regional hospital
590113769_kvNjm-M.jpg

For all you guys wanting to ride in Laos - look at the hospital above & think about what standard of treatment & establishment you are going to get = you DON'T want to crash in Laos!

After a night in Tha Kek where you can get the GT Rider Laos map at
1. Travel Lodge
2. Inthira Hotel / Green Discovery
3. Riveria Hotel

it was onto Savannakhet.

In Savan this time round I tried the old Mekong Hotel, but the place is a little too old & run down for my money = no serious recommendation.

In Savannakhet you can now get the GT Rider Laos map at the LNTA Tourism Office.

From Savannakhet south the weather was cool overcast & the countryside cool green
590113966_Sbr9N-M.jpg


590113857_sWmxr-M.jpg


590114274_xXbbJ-M.jpg


590114353_Gnb3u-M.jpg


Next stop after Savannakhet is Pakxe, where the Sedon River runs into the Mekong.
590114724_fambv-M.jpg


In Pakxe it was the Lao Chaleune Hotel
590114604_WdvTk-M.jpg

590114511_uqmdB-M.jpg

590114657_74Nks-M.jpg

good value for money at 90,000 kip a night = 380 baht.

Pakxe old town view from the Lao Chaleune Hotel
590114931_ogp8G-M.jpg


In Pakxe, the Mekong Lanexang Boat Restaurant is a popular tourist restaurant on the Mekong
590114846_FmdBt-M.jpg
 
Last edited:

Rhodie

Ol'Timer
Mar 5, 2006
847
3
18
Blue skies with white puffies make for great pix and good riding.
Are there any other options in Savan other than the Mekong you would recomend?
Looking forward to the islands as if the weather held up the pix should be similarly awesome. :D
 

Auke

Ol'Timer
Nov 10, 2003
665
0
0
In Savan I normally stay in the "Rattanasavanh Hotel" on Makaveha Rd. (GPS Coordinates N16.554260 E104.753372). Price is about 20 USD per night including breakfast. Clean rooms and safe parking (gate and guard).
 

Rhodie

Ol'Timer
Mar 5, 2006
847
3
18
Auke
Appreciate this, as I will be heading that way with the lad next month.
Cheers
Rhodie
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
12,521
2,944
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
In Pakxe you can now get the GT Rider Laos map from
1. Pakse Hotel
2. LNTA Tourism Office
3. Sabai Cafe & Motorcycle Rent
4. Lankham Hotel & Motorcycle Rent
5. Delta Coffee
6. Green Discovery

From Pakxe it was over the 'Khong to Champasak & Wat Phu
The ferry crossing is 35 kms from Pakxe & you turn off at Lak 30 from Pakxe.

It's the luck of the game which ferry you get & use

The car ferry
590115019_DGfBm-M.jpg


Or the motorbike ferry
590122686_xuVtC-M.jpg


AND

The motorbike ferry is more adventurous & one that all riders should all do at least once.
The local price for a small bike is 5,000 kip, but with a big bike they like to try & touch you up for more; especially on the return where the thieving Mekong boatman asked for 20,000 kip but I knew the mini buses were paying 25,000 & the Honda Dreams 5,000kip. He got 8,000 kip & was told to shut up.

Once you're on the other side it's like dropping back in time 15-20 years. Life is so tranquil & easy going.

Even the roads are not quite the same
590121630_XyAgh-M.jpg


590116581_vHhN7-M.jpg


But the scenery en route to Wat Phu makes up for the --th class rural roads
590121541_yTNdA-M.jpg


590122494_gDtzA-M.jpg


590122159_Hz2cU-M.jpg


590122573_pP4dD-M.jpg


The entrance to the Wat Phu World Heritage site
590122058_YcinK-M.jpg


You have to pay an entrance fee - 30,000 kip - when you enter the site, & there's not always someone around to collect your money, as I found out at the temple site. I was asked for my ticket, said I did not have one because there was no one around to collect the money, but I was happy to pay. No I had to walk back 200 metres to my bike, and then ride back another 300 metres to find the ticket seller & pay him / her the money before I could come in. True to form this did not impress the old GT Rider, who promptly pulled out the 30,000 kip & said that if they wanted the money he would pay it then & there, but he was not going to retrace his steps to track down the missing ticket seller. Take it or leave it, "mate." You want money provide a service where someone is there to collect it; I'm not going to hunt them down to give you money. He got on his walkie talkie & jabbered away for a couple of minutes, & then said Bor Pen Nyang pay now. Yes the right decision too I thought.

The Wat Phu Museum & Archaelogical Site has been built with funds from the Japanese govt & a plaque proudly announces this at the entrance.
590121779_d5FVT-M.jpg


The good old Aussies did not want to miss out
590121870_dUmkx-M.jpg


& so provided the door mat.
590121987_Vv7z9-M.jpg

but I think we need to do a bit better than this.

My impressions of Wat Phu were not so great this time, maybe because of the admission cultural misunderstanding, but with a lot of the site fenced off & so no access, plus a lack of any English language signs / explanation you are left wondering what it is all about. I think they can & should do better than this.

For some reason I only got shitty photos here too - apologies. (Rhodie / Ally here's your queue. :) )

590115495_Nemqh-M.jpg


590115386_qvhpB-M.jpg


590115871_5XkYu-M.jpg


590116036_ev7Ct-M.jpg


590116201_MZWUz-M.jpg


590115262_B4dWP-M.jpg
590116350_hkHCq-M.jpg


Regardless Wat Phu is still a magnificent site & worthy of a visit at least once or twice.

Wat Phu and its surroundings were certified as a national heritage site in 1993. Since then Wat Phu has been registered by UNESCO on the 14th of December, 2001.

Check out

http://www.watphu.com/

and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Phu

for more info on Wat Phu
 

Rhodie

Ol'Timer
Mar 5, 2006
847
3
18
Wat Phou is important if you are interested in Khmer kingdom of Angkor as it predates Angkor.
The site is especially popular with Thai tourists and the mountain above is worshiped as a lingham...

Sadly it was so wet and miserable the day we visited that we just concentrated on video...
But here's a video of the day Richard & I visited a few years ago.


I would strongly advise taking the ferry as the road west of the Mekong is slippery as snot in the wet season
and 2-up on a fully laden beamer was a handful.

DadXingMekong4LR.jpg

Also taking the ferry adds a certain "russian roulette" quality to the trip... :D
see vid above
:shock:
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
12,521
2,944
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
In Champasak I lucked out with full moon (I was far away from Chiang Mai?) & saw the locals conducting their Boun Khao Phansa / Tak Bat ceremonies for the start of Buddhist Lent.

Celebrating in the beginning of the Buddhist lent. Unusually occurs in July. Monks must stay in the Temple for 3 Months. Boun Khao Pansa / Tal Bat mixes different religious and animist practices: candle processions are organized, mantras are chanted in the temples, and incense is burnt in houses.


Champasak is a small beautiful town beside the Mekong with 8 temples in a short 7 kms distance = approximately 1 temple every kilometre.
The villagers are still very traditional & devout believers in the religion & festival. Every household sends representatives to the local temple to make merit.

And in the morning light (7AM Franz) the temples were damn pretty.

590120372_rpyvF-M.jpg


590120283_DjKbT-M.jpg


590120826_tQC4p-M.jpg


590120109_EpfbB-M.jpg


590120892_JXTSQ-M.jpg
590116823_GJ4Ex-M.jpg


590121178_PpBn5-M.jpg


590120598_dbAdk-M.jpg
590121362_3bMTX-M.jpg


590120196_ELK6k-M.jpg


590120487_sPVMf-M.jpg


590121463_HccjJ-M.jpg


Another piece of luck I had in Champasak was staying at the Inthira Hotel
http://www.inthirahotel.com/

590119155_btNt9-M.jpg


590116903_2sY7s-M.jpg


590117577_dgLSk-M.jpg


590118075_ZKpgY-M.jpg


590117121_imWdf-M.jpg


Well worth checking out & spending a night at if you're in Champasak & visiting Wat Phu.

Another beautiful new spot I found in Champsak was the Champasak Spa

http://www.champasak-spa.com/

590119943_DzW3r-M.jpg
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
12,521
2,944
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
After Champasak it was a quick blast down to take a quick look at the Mekong falls, Khone Phapaeng while they are still there

590122813_GhyLA-M.jpg


590122921_YQSPd-M.jpg


590123002_q55KD-M.jpg
590123118_iXDKf-M.jpg


590123230_xhnaE-M.jpg


If you think the Mekong falls are spectacular & they are, then you should be worried about the Mekong dams & the proposed dam for the nearby Don Sahong channel.

Look here
http://www.savethemekong.org/issue_detail.php?sid=21

http://www.worldfishcenter.org/resource ... -final.pdf

http://www.internationalrivers.org/en/node/2101

for more info.

Scary stuff eh, & I recommend go take a look at the Khone Phapaeng Falls & the 4000 Islands while they are still there!

Back upstream it was over to Don Khong, the biggest island of the 4000 Islands.
The weather was still absolutely glorious

590124837_PKkzq-M.jpg


590123997_u9FR2-M.jpg


Don Khong "the main street" in Muang Khong
590123433_rT93X-M.jpg


The Souksan Guesthouse & Hotel was my place of stay
590123927_qKQkU-M.jpg


Pon's Guesthouse & Restaurant was my place of food 'n beverage by the 'Khong.

The staff
590124328_YxaWh-M.jpg

attempting to lead me on (ok I was easy)

The food
590123663_Qjvx7-M.jpg

a superb spicy fish larb.

590124462_RgTs7-M.jpg

some tasty beef by the stick (& by the score I ended up sponsoring)

590124612_5Z4HW-M.jpg


The happy clan
590124765_Xw57v-M.jpg


A future goddess
590124676_Y7VsR-M.jpg


The drink
590123502_oKeCe-M.jpg

an icy cold Beer Lao

Full moon rise over the 'Khong
590123721_fdvAJ-M.jpg


590123854_UnKKK-M.jpg


Relaxing by the 'Khong
590124066_rgwta-M.jpg


590124138_9z7PE-M.jpg


A change in the weather
590124971_vjDXK-M.jpg


A favourable view
590124236_f6Dqn-M.jpg


The girls at Pon's Restaurant indeed attempted to lead the old GT Rider astray. They cracked the first beer at 10AM & challenged lung to a drink or two. They could drink all day - by the carton - they claimed (as long as I was paying), so the race was on. By 12.30PM they'd fallen asleep on the job in the restaurant & only 11 bottles were down. Not such a startling performance I thought. But if you're only 42 & 53 kgs you don't stand much chance of out drinking a seasoned lung at 99kgs.

So at 4PM, fearing a part 2 challenge I packed up & headed home. Exited Don Khong on the ferry made it Vang Tao / Chong Mek & the border by 5.55PM & crossed back into Thailand uneventfully & easily.

I hit Ubon at 7.30PM just in time for the Wax Candle Festival & absolute traffic mayhem. With not much chance of a decent hotel room; I decided to move on & had a complicated time navigating my way through the traffic jams & streets with few English language signs. :roll:
Eventually I ended up on the right road - Route 23 to Yasothon.
It was a beautiful clear full moon night & I kept going - all the way to Roi Et, where I called it a night at 10.15PM.

But Don Khong & the 4000 Islands I'll be back - in early October for an extended stay - & first stop will be Don Khong.
Living in Chiang Mai, one of the problems of Don Khong & the 4000 Islands is that up till now it is so far away it has always been at the end of the journey with time running out & the turning point for home.

But next trip the deep south of Laos will be starting point.

Don Khong here we come. Who's up for a ride? :)
 

Marco

Ol'Timer
Oct 15, 2006
1,690
5
38
54
Khuang Nai
Eventually I ended up on the right road - Route 23 to Yasothon.
David, you pass my house while you where here,,, why you did not tell me, you could easilly bunk in here and i have always freezing bottle of vodka in the frost box :wink:
 

Pikey

www.tbbtours.com
David,

I'll prob be up for it depending on the timing as I need it to coincide with school holidays. I already have a loose plan to chuck the DRz on the back of the truck and drive with the missus & step-nipper to Sisaket, dump them off and go to visit Angkor. However, it sounds like your trip would be fun and possibly imperative given the possibility of a f*cking dam screwing things up. :evil:

BTW, yes you should have stayed at Marco's - a great host but a night with him means no riding 'til at least lunchtime the next day due to a monster sized hangover! ;-)

Cheers,

Pikey.
 

Marco

Ol'Timer
Oct 15, 2006
1,690
5
38
54
Khuang Nai
pikey wrote: David,

BTW, yes you should have stayed at Marco's - a great host but a night with him means no riding 'til at least lunchtime the next day due to a monster sized hangover! ;-)

Cheers,

Pikey.
Pikey,, I have no idea what you mean :wink: where did you got monster Hangovers? maybe you drank expired beer?
just a one bottle of vodka per night dont give any hangovers,,, it give clear visibility and clear mind :D
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
12,521
2,944
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
Marco wrote:
Eventually I ended up on the right road - Route 23 to Yasothon.
David, you pass my house while you where here,,, why you did not tell me, you could easilly bunk in here and i have always freezing bottle of vodka in the frost box :wink:

Marco
Yes apologies, but in my rush I mistakenly thought you that you were on the Ubon - Si Saket road. I actually discussed this with John Gooding before leaving & thought about looking you up, if I stayed in Ubon on the way through. But as it was I hit town at festival time with total traffic mayhem, a bit of a contrast to Don Khong earlier in the day; so all I wanted to do was get away & keep going. For awhile I thought I might even reach Khon Kaen, but decided not to push my luck.
So next time - October - I will look you up. Freezing Vodka sounds alright to too!
 

Marco

Ol'Timer
Oct 15, 2006
1,690
5
38
54
Khuang Nai
David

No worries, im 39Km from Ubon to Yaso direction HW23
IMG_2251.jpg

IMG_1509.jpg

our pharmacy is on right had side (200Met) when heading from Khueng Nai Traffic lights towards to Yaso
 

Craypot

Ol'Timer
Aug 31, 2005
156
1
0
I've visited Wat Phu a couple of times and can only hope the aid industry provide a few rubbish bins to go with the door mat. The place seems to be half rubbish tip and half toilet most of the time. Its an impressive place that needs someone who can manage it appropriately.
 

DavidFL

Administrator
Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
12,521
2,944
113
67
Chiang Khong
www.thegtrider.com
Davidfl;244669 wrote: After Champasak it was a quick blast down to take a quick look at the Mekong falls, Khone Phapaeng while they are still there

590122813_GhyLA-M.jpg


590122921_YQSPd-M.jpg


590123002_q55KD-M.jpg
590123118_iXDKf-M.jpg


590123230_xhnaE-M.jpg


If you think the Mekong falls are spectacular & they are, then you should be worried about the Mekong dams & the proposed dam for the nearby Don Sahong channel.

Look here
http://www.savethemekong.org/issue_detail.php?sid=21

http://www.worldfishcenter.org/resource ... -final.pdf

http://www.internationalrivers.org/en/node/2101

for more info.

Scary stuff eh, & I recommend go take a look at the Khone Phapaeng Falls & the 4000 Islands while they are still there!

Back upstream it was over to Don Khong, the biggest island of the 4000 Islands.
The weather was still absolutely glorious

590124837_PKkzq-M.jpg


590123997_u9FR2-M.jpg

The Sahong Dam.....

2013-1112 - Radio Free Asia - Laos Pushes Ahead With Second Mekong Dam Project

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/don-sahong-11122013185743.html

Laos Pushes Ahead With Second Mekong Dam Project

2013-11-12

Laos is pushing ahead with construction of a second dam on the Mekong River despite objections from environmental and civil society groups and protest from at least one neighboring country.

Work on the main part of the Don Sahong hydropower dam near the Cambodian border in southern Laos will begin by the end of next year, deputy minister for energy and mines Viraponh Viravong told a group visiting the project site Monday.

Some 100 reporters, representatives of non-governmental organizations, and Cambodian and Vietnamese officials are on a tour of the site this week as Laos seeks to appease opposition to the U.S. $723 million project.

Construction of the first dam on the mainstream Mekong, the Xayaburi dam, is already underway in the north of Laos.

Environmental and civil society groups have said that the 260-megawatt Don Sahong dam, like the Xayaburi project, poses a devastating threat to regional fisheries and food security and will adversely affect some 60 million people in the region.

Activists have said that the dam, which will be built across the Hou Sahong channel in the Siphandone region where the Mekong splits into multiple channels, will block the only section of the Mekong River where fish can pass during the dry season on a large scale.

Others have raised concerns that Laos, which formally notified its neighbors six weeks ago that it planned to start building the dam this month, is moving ahead with the dam without first consulting its neighbors.

Preliminary groundwork around the dam site has gone on for months, carried out by Malaysian developer Mega First Berhad.

Closing off coffer dams

Work that will close off coffer dams on the Hou Sahong channel is expected to start by the end of next year after Laos secures financing for the project and contracts to sell electricity that is to be generated, Viraponh said.

“We hope to ... finalize all the contracts early next year—that is, the power purchase agreement, the concession agreement, and the financing agreement—and then hopefully to sign the turnkey contract in mid-year—May or June—of next year to construct the dam,” Viraponh told visitors at the dam site.

“Then we can start the main work—that means closing the upstream and downstream coffer dams—sometime at the end of 2014 or early 2015.”

Local villagers who will be resettled to make way for the dam will be compensated in accordance with international standards, while those who can no longer fish for a living because of the project will be provided with alternative jobs, he said.

Cambodian objection

Activists have complained that the project will impact people beyond the immediate vicinity of the dam, calling for further study of the project and consultation with neighboring countries.

The dam has prompted a formal complaint from downstream Cambodia, whose border is 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the dam site.

The complaint was made to the Mekong River Commission (MRC), the body that oversees regional cooperation in the Mekong Basin.

“Cambodia has written to Laos to request the project be suspended and that Laos bring the project up for discussion with the Mekong River Commission,” Cambodian National Mekong Committee Deputy Chairman Sin Niny told RFA’s Khmer Service last week.

He did not say why Cambodia was objecting the dam project.

Cambodia-based 3S Rivers Protection Network director Meach Mean said the country’s National Mekong Committee had received no response from Laos to the letter and that Cambodia should insist that the project be postponed until further environmental studies are done.

Cambodian villagers living along the Mekong and its “3S” tributaries want their government to ask national brewer Angkor Beer, in which the owner of Mega First has a majority share, to persuade the Malaysian company to stop or postpone construction of the project, he said.

Cambodia, which is building its own dams on Mekong tributaries, is also, along with Thailand, a potential buyer for electricity generated by the dam, which Laos is building as part of its target to become the “battery” of Southeast Asia by selling electricity to its neighbors.

At least 19 NGOs in the region have written to the prime ministers of the four Mekong River Commission countries—Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam— calling on them to suspend the project until further studies are conducted, according to Cambodia-based NGO Forum director Chit Sam Ath.

Activists say plans for the dam require the removal of thousands of truckloads of riverbed from the channel, which will alter the river’s ecology and aquatic habitats.

In particular, the dam will severely threaten the already endangered Irrawaddy dolphin that lives in the area, they say.

“We are really concerned about the construction, as the dam will affect natural resources, dolphins, and wetlands,” Chit Sam Ath said.

Notification and consultation

Activists have said Laos is avoiding MRC requirements to consult its neighbors before building the dam by claiming it is not on the Mekong mainstream.

On Sept. 30, after months of preliminary construction carried out at the dam site, Laos formally informed the MRC of its plans to build the dam beginning in November, using the organization’s “prior notification” procedures instead of the “prior consultation” process required for mainstream dams.

Laos official have said they do not regard the Hou Sahong to be part of the Mekong mainstream and that the MRC’s definitions of a “mainstream” dam are vague.

International advocacy group Save the Mekong Coalition said in a recent statement that it “totally rejected” Laos’s claim.

“There is absolutely no question that the Don Sahong Dam is a mainstream project that will deeply impact flows and fish migration, and have immense transboundary implications,” it said.

International Rivers hit out at the tour Laos had organized to the dam site as an attempt to sell the project to neighboring countries despite the absence of a regional agreement or proven measures to mitigate environmental or social impacts of the project.

“Their latest attempt to greenwash the Don Sahong Dam cannot hide the environmental and political injustices of the project,” the group’s Southeast Asia director Ame Trandem said in a statement.

Reported by RFA’s Lao and Khmer Services. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.