Thakhek - Vilabury - Thakhek Loop.

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Moto-Rex, May 1, 2012.

  1. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Moderator

    Thakhek-Vilabury-Thakhek Loop, a two day motorcycle ride in Laos.

    This was a good easy dirt ride, starting and finishing in Thakhek, with one night in Vilabury.

    The way.

    Great sunny day on the road just out of Thakhek.

    Nice part of Laos through here, this is about 5 kms west of Mahaxay.

    After working out Id missed the turn off, I doubled back to the start of track that headed south to Xaybuathong.

    The track was very dusty, but easy going with beautiful scenery.

    A small road side market about half way to Xaybuathong.

    I got the feeling that this was a very poor part of Laos.





    I arrived in Xaybuathong, and took a left, when I should have took a right..Lost again for three hours, but It was ok as the riding was good.



    I had been here 2 years before, and I had crossed a river that took me to the Vilabury road, but this time it was impossible to find the river crossing, so it was back to Xaybuathong again, but this time I turned right.

    Left or Right? Didn’t matter, they both joined to make a circle.

    About twenty KMs south of Xaybuathong I came to a river. On the other side was the track to Vilabury. There was only one way across, and that was in the small canoe in the picture.

    I rode on to the canoe, and stayed sitting on it with my legs on the sides of the boat for balance, but I had a bad feeling as we floated away from the river bank.


    As we approached the other side, the KLX was running, I was in gear, and all ready to ride away soon as the canoe touched the bank. But before landing, the canoe, and its cargo got the wobbles, and the bike fell sideways, throwing me into the river. I went right under, and it was waste deep, but unbelievably as I looked up while standing in the river, the bike was upside down hanging by the foot peg that had got court on the side of the canoe, still running with the rear wheel spinning around as it was in first gear. The engine, air box, headlights etc, where all under water, but the KLX refused to die.

    I pushed the bike back onto the canoe, and the Capitan hit the kill switch. We got to the river bank and got the bike off.


    I thought it was going to be a long push to Vilabury, but after a tense thirty seconds pushing the start button, it started up. Yes…the KLX was back in the game.


    Back on dry land, and heading east to Vilabury. The speedo screen was blank, and the coloured lights were all flashing. Two days later the speedo came good, and it’s been working perfectly to this day.

    After a night in the city of love (Vilabury) I was back on the trail and heading north towards Bualapha.

    The Vilabury to Bualapha track is a great ride. It has a remote feel, with plenty of interesting villages and river crossings, and a lot of it tree cover as well.


    This little village was like an oasis. Really clean and tidy.


    Approximately half to Bualapha, you come across what has to be the most amazing bridge I’ve seen in Laos.

    It’s a work of art.

    There was no way you could get a bike over this. But as the track either side of the bridge look well used, I thought there must have been another way, so I turned around and rode back about 400 metres till I came across a small turn off.


    I rode down the track and came to what I soon realized was the river crossing.

    I walked up the river to see if it went any were, and after about 150metres I came to a river bank that would allow me to ride out. It was funny because just around the bend there was a lot of villagers washing, and kids swimming. Imagine what they thought when they looked up and seen me walking up the river towards them with my helmet on.
    You could avoid the deep spots, but the rocks were super slippery.


    I ventured on.


    The Saang river crossing north of Bualapha. There was only very small canoes, and it’s a big river, and since I hadn’t got my sea legs back after the splash and dash the day before, I decided to go back to Thakhek on the dirt, instead of going via the Vietnamese border for a look as I had planned.


    Yeh, this not bad,….beats working.

    Back in Thakhek, were the bike was pampered.

    A few weeks later I was in the area and rode up to the spot where I had fallen into the river.

    The wet spot now had a bridge.

    Note the toll booth at the end of the bridge.

    This bloke had trouble even with a bridge.

    Travelling salesman on the road to the city of love.

    Some remnants of the Vietnam war.


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  3. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    Uniquely brilliant Moto-Rex, the water-rat. Keep them coming.
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Funniest report of a teriffic dirt loop ride in Laos.

    This photo is a winner

    and I have to agree on the bridge "the most amazing bridge I’ve seen in Laos."
  5. ronwebb

    ronwebb Ol'Timer

    Another great adventure Rex, well chronicled and illustrated. Many thanks for the sharing.
    I was recently reading a book on 12th century England and the similarities are amazing. Makeshift bridges with a toll gate at each end to repay the villagers who built the bridge, a canoe as an alternative for crossing, villages with wooden houses and dusty roads through them, grubby kids wearing scruffy clothes, traveling salesmen, fruit from the forests and vermin for sale in the market for someones dinner, communal washing in the river, remnants of burnt out places from some past fighting, forests and remote areas between villages, eager helping hands for a traveler. The only missing parts seem to be bandits and the miserable English weather!
    Extraordinary, its like wandering through history!
  6. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Moderator Staff Member

    Great stuff Rex... Loved the drowned rat look..

    I guess you were lucky the KLX was totally upside down.. stopped the water getting in.. At least gave you tme to shut everything off so you could reover the situtation..

    Well done mate,

  7. Jurgen

    Jurgen Moderator

    Wonderfull report with amazing andcolorfull illustrations Rex. Unfortunately, another of these trips off-limits for me and for my mount! However, I enjoy, to see what canbe done outside the paved tracks and to get a glimpse to these remotecountry sides. Thank you for putting all this online.
  8. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    Nice write up & good colourful pictures. Certainly a good plug for the KLX if it can survive treatment like that.
  9. louis-SVK

    louis-SVK Member

    Exelent report Rex,

    I just came back from a businees trip that took me across the Se noy twice. I cross the river not far from where you nearly drown your KLX (and you at the same time) and on an other village closer to vila where you did not find the boat.
    I admit I had my staff with me, they knew witch village had boat and witch did not. I would have been as mutch lost as you on my own.

    Info : No wood bridge during october. Maybe November or december.

    It was a easy ride during this season exept for my back as the road is now made of frozen mud shaped like hills.

    Savan - Xaybouathong - Vilabouly - Savan why one night in Xaybouathong.

    See you in Savan for your next trip.


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