I've been riding in Laos for two months all over the north and the scenery, the people and the actual riding itself have been glorious! Collectively, ALL the riding was awesome, but there is one ride that somehow topped the others. A long day's ride NE of Phonsavan (Plain of Jars area) to the NE-most capital city of Sam Neau was the best of the best of all the riding in northern Laos. Nothing short of spectacular in EVERY sense of the word. Leave Phonsavan on a great, asphalt road (Route 7) dotted with beautiful Hmong villages and rice fields to the town of Muang Kham, about 55 minutes away. Turning north onto Route 6, you begin the sweeping, twisty, breathtaking climb (about 2 hrs riding time) up, up, up to the village of Nam Neu, named for the pretty river that gurgles along just outside of town. After a steaming bowl of noodle soup, (you'll need the warmth if you're there in Decamber or January. It can get very cold!) proceed onward up even narrower, twisting roads (watch carefully for trucks and buses, even on these roads that seem too narrow for anything but a bike or foot traffic! This goes as a general rule of thumb for all of Laos!) Another 2 hrs riding from Nam Neun brings you into the capital city of Houa Phan province, Sam( sometimes written Xam) Nua. Some of the remnants of the French Colonial architecture still exist and it's a welcome sight in this small (by Vientiane measure)and tidy city. There's a HUGE open market and lots of beautiful caves and waterfalls to explore up here too. For me, the greatest joy of the trip was simply the grand experience of the exquisite views and the challenge of technical riding: steep, uphill climbs, hairpin twists, turns that rimind me of the figure eight obsticle course in safety training class (thank GOD I paid attention that day!) and always, staying on the immediate alert for cattle, chickens, goats and pigs ambling along in the middle of the road anytime. Anywhere. Around ANY turn! I'd love to share more with anyone who's planning a Laos trip and wants to chat. Please feel free to contact me.