Running In...

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Eoin Christie, Oct 12, 2019 at 4:56 PM.

  1. Eoin Christie

    Eoin Christie Ol'Timer

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    It’s a bit early to post a trip report, since I’m still on my way to Laos, but I guess it’s the pre-trip trip report at this stage...
    I arrived back in KL on Wednesday night, after flying from Luanda > Dubai > Addis Ababa > Malabo > Addis Ababa > Dubai > KL, all because West African Countries (generalisation) don’t seem to be able to take on the concept of regional airlines.

    Thursday I picked up my bike (Enfield Interceptor 650 Twin), and managed to get lost between Putrajaya and my apartment, and caught in a deluge, to boot.

    Friday was in at the office, catching up on 3 months’ worth of being over in Africa - The intended early departure didn’t happen, and it took me 3 hrs to drive home - a total of about 25km. Spent the night sorting out what to take, then crashed out for a couple of hours.

    Saturday morning I was ready to go at 05:00, until I realised I had too much crap, so unpack & repack, finally getting away at 06:00. Rode up via Raub and Gua Musang to cross the Malay / Thai border at Sungai Golok. All went well there, except for a Malay Immigration Officer who took a dislike to me, and called me a liar. Only other thing that didn’t go quite so great was dropping the cap of my pen down the back of the Thai Immigration fingerprint scanner - They didn’t like it when I lifted it up to tilt it backwards, but it all ended OK, with pen cap rescued, and scanner intact.

    Next day was a run up to Krabi. First part up to Naratiwat was good, as was the section from just before Trang through to Krabi. The remainder was the usual flat, straight, busy slog, which is even less fun running in an engine.

    Monday was Krabi to Hua Hin. From Krabi across to Phatalung was excellent, with cool fog. North from Phatalung was more of the slog.

    Tuesday was a short run up to Bangkok, but my predilection for early starts had me ride straight into rush hour, which also didn’t rate highly on the fun-o-meter.

    Wednesday saw the bike get an oil change, and I picked up a Guglatech filter from Phillip (Faragit). I also changed out my full-face Shoei GT-Air, which previously fitted me well, but had been mind-numbingly crushing my right templesince setting out from KL. Being a natural stubborn cheap arse, I tried to grimace and bear it, but it was forcing me to stop every hour, and 4 days of internal screaming was enough. I passed my Shoei over to a niece in Bangkok, for her husband to send down to KL for me. I picked up an open-face from 320SP, which has been a delight, since. Unfortunately, I decided on goggles, which have not been a delight, so I’ll ditch them and get some safety glasses in Chiangrai.

    Thursday was exit Krung Thep time. Using MapsMe, which doesn’t distinguish between motorbikes and cars, had me making a few errors in Bangkok’s anti-bike road system, but eventually got free. The ride up to Mae Sot was more slog-fest, until after turning off from Tak. Those hills are wonderful!

    Friday was a run from Mae Sot up to Mae Hong Son. The section from Mae Sot to Mae Sariang was excellent - My favourite piece of road so far. Not the curly autobahn of Mae Hong Son > Chiang Mai / Chiangrai, but (at least in my opinion) better - It was quiet, foggy, and filled with people going about their daily work, just the way I like it. Mae Sariang to Mae Hong Son was nice riding, but not in the same league regards my weird preferences.

    Today (Saturday) was Mae Hong Son across to Chiangrai. Another early start saw a fairly quiet road. The whole way across I was only overtaken by one motorbike (apart from when dawdling through towns), and I wasn’t going fast. I stopped at one viewing point, which showed cloud, surrounded by cloud, but I’d seen glimpses of hills on the other side, so I turned off down a track a bit further on - It was a steep descent, but opened onto a magnificent vista, of karst, gardens, and small villages - It made my day.

    I took a MapsMe shortcut across to the 109, which was my 2nd favourite section of road so far. Again, little traffic other than locals, going about their business.

    Now I’m in Chiangrai, with a few things to sort out, before looping over to Chiang Khong and Houayxai, and the end of the pre-trip trip, and the start of the trip-trip.

    I’m looking forward to being a little more settled in Laos, with day trips out seeing how stuck I can get, rather than focusing on getting somewhere (which I’ve had to do in order to get here).

    More to come (hopefully) in the days ahead...
     
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  2. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Thanks for he update mate.
    It's always to get some feed back & a trip report - much appreciated.

    Now I like this part in your post: "until I realised I had too much crap, so unpack & repack."
    Wonderful, its actually impressive how little we can travel with.
     
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  3. Eoin Christie

    Eoin Christie Ol'Timer

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    ...and still I have too much! Should’ve packed for a trip to the shops, rather than in prep for WWIII...
     
  4. Eoin Christie

    Eoin Christie Ol'Timer

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    IMG_0739.JPG IMG_0745.JPG IMG_0734.JPG IMG_0692.JPG I’d read somewhere that Chiang Khong Immigration open at 06:00. After getting drenched the night before, I was at the border at 05:30. I spoke with an Officer, who let me know it’s a 07:00 start, so I headed back to get a coffee, and met 2 more Immigration Officers at Amazon.
    One of them ended up doing my export - Total 200B for everything, and no escort.
    Arrived at Laos side too early, but got processed quickly.
    Off into Houayxai for another coffee and an apple strudel. I was going to head over to Muang Long via the Muang Muang road, figuring it would be better than the Mom road after the rain, and I could stop in Muang Muang if the going got too tough for the bike or I, or turn back, with plenty of fuel options.
    As it happened, I found myself rolling along the Mom road, figuring I’d take a look, and then return.
    The Chinese road building is heading further and further North. I was thinking it may already be through to a Xiengkok / Muang Long, destroying that opportunity for doing silly things with the Enfield.
    I was wrong...
    By the time I’d gone for a foray up the track North of Mom, I was beyond the point of no return. 1st river crossing was too deep, so it was over the bamboo bridge with the dreadnought - definitely rested the load-bearing structures.
    Onward and into the mire. I picked up a couple of litres of petrol in a village, along with a bottle of water. Later on, I’d run out of water, and end up on “E - For Enough” on the petrol front.
    First dropping of the bike came not long after the village - Front wheel wash out on Teflon-coated clay.
    Further on, the track deteriorated, and second dropping went down a treat.
    A while later, in a banana plantation quagmire, drop No.3 had the bike go past horizontal, and me trying to right the capsize from a truck rut that was knee deep in clay soup, once I had her upright, I had her bellied on the bash-plate, as I cajouled her across to some virgin ground.
    That time had me Foobarred. Anymore dropbears were going to be stretching it, with water and strength running low, stretching the calorific intake of 2 coffees and a piece of apple strudel.
    I did find the one redeeming off-road feature of the Enfield - Despite full road rubber, the torque at low rev’s created some kind of virtual traction, regardless ofthe wheel continuing to spin from its Teflonic-Clay coating, even once back on dry ground.
    The last 20km were exceptionally hard going. Every left bend (and there are a bountiful number of them) was a clay bog, with deep truck rut chasms, filled with primordial soup. Once I’d committed to Left Horror or Right Horror, there was no crossing over, despite not being able to see around the corner.
    Along the way, I met 3 trucks grotesquely stuck, coming the other way. That gave me some hope for the track being open ahead - It should really have given me a dread for how the trucks had carved up what was ahead.
    There were 2 more fairly deep river crossings, with no bridge alternatives, but I was too far in to turn back, so just attacked them the way a Lifer attacks a barbed wire prison fence. More through luck than good management, the Enfield sailed / submarined through.
    After what seemed like an eternity of Left-turn-equals-possible-death-knell, the road improved, and I got to spend more time in 2nd gear than 1st, although by then, my left shoulder could hardly carry the weight of my left elbow.
    When I finally came out onto the Xiengkok / Muang Long road, it surprised me, in a very pleasant way.
    It took me 10hrs to ride about 150km, but it also made me very, very happy (and dirty, when I rolled into Muang Long about 19:30).
    It started raining just after I hit the Xiengkok / Muang Long road, so I was lucky, although I’d already resigned myself to walking out if I got too stuck.
    I stopped taking photo’s once the track demanded all of my attention, but is an Interceptor supposed to look like this? The snail was competing with me, and I think may have just beaten me into 2nd place.
     
  5. Eoin Christie

    Eoin Christie Ol'Timer

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