Solo trip North Laos March/April 2012

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by alrikki, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. BAD LUCK Tour

    Here's a route map so you can see where I was.

    I had planned to do a route for 8 days in north laos. Some tracks I wanted to do but flexible if something came up. I had downloaded someone else's tracks, but they were only about 200points each so when the track said 50km total, it was more likely 75km.The real problem with this is that at times I didnt know how much further I had to go.
    I left chiang mai to nan with george, who bought my old KLX. It had been running well.After Phayao, his bike wouldnt start,We got to Dok Khamtai and kawasaki shop there played with it,and kept it overnight. 7052726043_c0617fa0d1_z.
    We stayed in a short time hotel,the only choice. Nothing interesting on the tv, was a total waste of time. then nan next day, finally found the Amazing Guest house,. geo caught up with me but more probs so after breakfast at Nan Steak house by the river, I went on to muang nguen for the next night. The ATMs in Pua wouldnt pay out,with my thai bank card, very strange. It was looking like rain near border. problems on thai side,as I'd misjudged my visa dates, and overstayed. So 500baht a day... but no hassle really, through there about 5pm,but the barrier was down on the laos side, so I went round it and the laos staff were out, but after a half hour got all paperwork,from 3 windows,.2 weeks permit for the bike(I should've asked for 3 weeks). noone was in the insurance offices so went to hotel.Didnt want to stay in the cheap guesthouse (3) on right,once bitten twice shy, and new Xaysan on left before junction looked good for 60k fan room, but I went left for a look and found a nice place for 50k.
    It poured down that night, 1st rain for months
    DAY1 Muang Nguen to Luang Prabang 26 March 2012
    It was fairly dry in the morning, so I got some insurance near the border and around noon I took the road to Luang Prabang,I remembered the turnoff/sign onto dirt road but got lost at the village shortly after. Back on track and in Luang Prabang by 4pm.167km 5hrs
    DAY2 Luang Prabang to Phonxai and back
    There's a track nr Phonxai I'd failed to do twice so (on the road to Phonsavan)off I went.
    lots of road upgrading, on the old dirt track,not sealed yet though,to turnoff at the red pillared suspension bridge on the left, through the field/gate and right on the track which takes you up the hill.
    Someone was working on it, moving rocks, large ones, and I struggled up picking all the wrong lines.
    You could probably get a good 4wd up there now.
    Got to the top and it goes on through valleys for miles, then you come to a gate.
    Beyond there's a village

    and the track carries on back down to phonxai,where there is gas, shops a guesthouse and I returned to Luang Prabang without joining the main road. Took 3hours from the bridge round to Phonxai. Total 153km
    Next day was a rest day,
    DAY3 Luang Prabang to Phoukhoune
    I wanted to ride to Vang Vieng the day after, down a track east of the main road, on the gps map and I was told it was a good option. So 3 hrs to phoukhoun, then 10km down the phonsavan rd to the turnoff. Was a nice track through the countryside, 32km I got almost to a junction, but there was a barrier and some army people dashed up and would not let me through. So I turned around and headed back but 10 km later, passing the army camp in the village, I was stopped by soldiers, and ordered into their compound at 3pm. They took me to a room and asked me why I was there several times,for an hour, and took my passport. They didnt speak much english. :MG
    Then they had a rubbish old little truck , and put the bike and I in it, and drove back to poukhoune, to see their boss,who had three plops on his shoulder. He got a translator to ask me the same stupid questions again and again, and state that I had done something wrong, and it eventually became clear that he was asking for money. He wanted $100, and said otherwise I would be kept for 2or3days, and maybe taken back to the army camp to explain why I didnt wish to pay for their petrol etc.I offered $10, I needed to get to Vang Vieng that night, or I'd have to wait till tuesday for the visa, and wouldnt have time to ride the places I came to do. We agreed on 1500baht in the end, and it was 6pm so I stayed in a Poukhoune guesthouse for 50k.Nice girl there, but she stayed out of the way. I suppose I shouldnt have given in to such corruption, and see if they let me go , or locked me up etc.
    They dont have bathrooms there, just oilcans full of water outside the house to wash in. I couldn't find anything to eat either, as it looked like they were serving everyone else before me so I had to walk out. Being semi-vegetarian doesn't help. Got some fried eggs in the market. I wouldnt stay there if I didnt have to, but I really dont want to drive in the dark, on the main highway.
    DAY 4 Phoukhoune to Vang Vieng
    Off early for the 2 hours to Vang Vieng, lovely windy road, to kasi, then nearer Vang Vieng the sealed road was
    regularly broken up with dirt sections, which I could hit at speed,standing up and fly past every other vehicle.
    Coming into town I had to pass a bus stuck behind an artic, then a wheel shot off the lorry, rolled down the road, almost demolishing a cafe, and then the other wheel came off, and rolled off down the other side of the road, as the lorry slid to a halt.
    I explored a bit the other side of the river in the afternoon, stayed in a nice 60k(?) room by the river.
    DAY 5 Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang
    Realising there was no longer any point going to vientiane for the visa, next day I went back to Kasi (1hour) then northwest to Muang Nan.
    This is all big highway under construction, none of it sealed yet,but mostly completed, just occasional short stretches of farmtype tracks.
    No villages for a long way.1.5hrs
    When I got to Muang Nan, I got some gas, but got lost, couldnt find the main route 4 from xayaboury to Luang Prabang( I was on it).So ended up riding along the mekong all the way to Luang Prabang.
  2. Alex.
    Many thanks for the contribution. That was one hell of a trip & report.
    It's funny how you have good & "bad" trips eh?

    You've got some great photos in there & I can see you've still got a good eye for nature.

    Re your encounter with the security police / army east of R13, I'm not surprised as this area seems to very sensitive still. Not unlike Long Chen / Xaysomboune.
    It would appear to be the area of the last Hmong resistance.

    But I think the LC area is "clean" now.

    One of the rumours you heard was that it was Vietnamese soldiers in there cleaning up for the Laos.
    If this was true you can understand why they don't like foreigners riding around in that area unescorted, because they might see something they should not.
  3. Great stuff alrikki.

    Funny how there’s a fine line sometimes between “bad luck” and adventure.

    That’s for the report and great photos that show your ride was more adventurous than bad luck. IMO

    How many KMs did you do in total?

    Cheers Rex
  4. They kept asking me who had told me of the route, and why wasnt I taking the main LP-VV road. They didnt believe nor check that it was on my gps map. I told them that I knew 2 people that had done it recently, and that I didnt like riding the main road. I was in my motox boots and jersey etc.
    Chok dee to the Hmong
    But I had a haunting feeling that they were "on the menu" in that area
    Like the line between paying "fine" and being permitted to continue with the adventure? Maybe if I had stuck to my principles and not paid the army, they might have got drunk with me and let me go through.
    It was about 2500km total, from CM and back
  5. Some terrible disturbing things in those videos!!

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