The Luang Prabang Loop

Yunus

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Feb 16, 2008
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Ok thanks.
Nice to know that the road is done up.
Abt the signature image, Very Sorry abt that...
 

DavidFL

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From Boten it was back track to Na Teuy & do the crappy road section to Oudom Xai.

I'd heard several complaints about this bad road before the trip, but to me it's the same as it has been the last few years: reasonable to good asphalt with short 30-50 metre dirt sections & 15 metre bumpy bits.???

Sorry no photos, but if anyone has any, please email them to me for uploading so that we can show people what I'm / we're talking about.
But if the Snail can do it alright on his Ducati & Back Door Alien clunked his way through on his VFR400, it's not seriously bad or difficult - just irritating, but you can get a rhythm going if you work at it & concentrate.

We arrived in Oudom Xai then.

(Sorry this is coming a bit slower than normal, but I'll get there eventually. Off to MHS now!)
 

DavidFL

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Aha. Back from MHS, the saga continues….Oudom Xai

Again it had been a few years since I’d over-nighted in Oudom Xai & wow is this place ever booming too! Lots of new hotels / shops / buildings. My old favourite GHouse had been the Linda, but even the last time I stayed there I was not that impressed.

Rhodie suggested we stay at a hotel he’d stayed at with RobertH on the way through last time, but I did not like it due to the lack of on premises parking, so it was time for a cruise around town & see what was going on.

This is something I don’t mind doing at length, exploring all the streets on arrival to get a feel of the town. But I’ve noted that not all my GT Rider mates are happy "time wasting" & getting hot & thirsty when I'm doing this before we've checked in.

We must have found another 10 new GHouses & a very attractive looking lake restaurant resort with a huge night club that definitely caught my attention. A good 20 mins pottering around had been chewed up, before I’d had enough & told Rhodie we could finally get some fuel & check into a big new hotel we’d sussed out.
The petrol station was only 1 ½ kms from the hotel. We topped up, paid & went to check into the hotel.

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The Oudomkham, on the south side of town, 0.8 kms past the airport turn off & on the right heading out. It’s a good one, huge rooms, big secure car park & a mere 250 Thai baht a night.

Checking in was alright until Rhodie was asked to pay in advance. He had no money! Yep, lost his wallet. It’s gone. Unbelievable. Only 5 mins previously he’d fueled up & paid for his own fuel at the petrol station & the hotel – a mere 1 1/2 kms away. We raced back downtown in search of the magic wallet & it’s contents. And, if you know Rhodie, the contents were not insignificant. But as to be expected NO LUCK.

What to do next? Be cool & keep smiling....
1. Check into the hotel.
2. Borrow some money from the GT Rider himself. Unbelievable some of you might say, he had some to spare. Ha. Ha.
3. Then continue the search. ..first the tourist office, then to the police station who entered the report in their exercise book on the desk. Then off to the local TV station – news for the night’s TV& radio station in Oudom Xai. We were stars, but sadly no guest appearances on the tele or radio. I wasn’t sure either if it was such a good idea alerting the whole town to a lost wallet stuffed with gold credit cards & enough money for a week or two on the road, but what the heck. You never know your luck – give it ago.

And nothing happened. No news or reports.

It was a quiet night in Oudom Xai then. Never even got to the big lake resort disco. Next time…..

But we did eat at the Keomoungkol restaurant, in the main street, opposite the Linda Ghouse. The place looks a bit ratty from the outside, but believe me the food here is GOOD.

We expected a subdued breakfast the next morning, but it was definitely livened up by the” new love of my life”....
Getting off the bike outside the Keomoungkol a cute little 5 - 6 yr old girl appeared from the construction site next door ran over & said hello. Totally 100% full of confidence & precocious.
I asked her if she’d eaten & had breakfast. The reply was no. Well, why not come & join us for brekky with your brother. No reply.

She just walked into the restaurant, pulled out a chair & sat down. Both Rhodie & I were gobsmacked. The next 20 mins were entertaining in the extreme. What a wonderful start to the day.
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It’s a long long time since I’ve met such a smart happy young kid as this one living on a construction site with mum & dad pouring concrete & putting bricks together. So if you’re ever in Oudom Xai, eat at the Keomoungkol & if they are still building the bank next door, look out for a future Miss Oudom Xai beauty & brains champion. She’s definitely going to be a winner & go places!!

Eventually we got on the road & wandered our way down to LPQ. The road was perfect, the villages great & we almost had not a care in the world, except Rhodie with “no money.”
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The Oudom Xai – LPQ sector really is great for hill tribe villages & wonderful friendly people, & it’s hard not to stop for photos…
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OR lunch
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I reckon that life on the road’s great with roads & villages like this
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DavidFL

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Finally arrived in LPQ & I escorted Rhodie to his hotel, the Xaynamkhan; & checked into my guesthouse the Phousi 1.

I’d booked the Phousi because it had just been rebuilt; & had nice new aircon rooms / cable TV / fridge & was I thought excellent value for money at our negotiated rate of US$20 a night, down from US$25 as we weren’t interested in the breakfast.

For 1st time tourists the Phousi1 has a good location - in the soi alongside the museum & smack bag in the middle of one the evening market walking streets: perfect for the happy-go-lucky girlfriend singer, flying in from Cnx to tally up my brownie points.
Now if you’re on a bike it’s not that great because you need to have your bike either in or out before the walking street & then wait for it to finish around 10pm, but for the brownie points I could handle this.

The 1st night in LPQ I bumped into David & Mai from Chiang Khong, plus Lynn Brown & his yank rider gang. RobertH also appeared from out of the woodwork, then KTM Laurence. Chuck in Rhodie & it was a really good night.

The 2nd day happy-go-lucky arrived on the plane, Craypot arrived from Vte on RobertH’s ex BMW1150 GS = another big night ensued.

The next day I scored mega brownie points with the HGL G/F & an early morning photo shoot giving alms to the LPQ monks on their rounds.

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Craypot & RobertH headed off to Vte the same day. Now I have to say Craypot really impresses me – he loves nothing better than a good long ride & a few beers with his mates. He rides from Vte to LPQ for the night; and has done the same thing Vientiane – Chiang Mai for a night just to have a beer with his fellow GT Riders, then ride all the way back to Vte to start work. What a great guy & rider!

After Craypot & RobertH left LPQ, Rhodie followed suit. Leaving me behind with happy go lucky.

Happy-go-lucky & I cruised town gossiping with the locals & generally feeling good.

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And then the weather changed dramatically – cold & wet. Constant drizzle / rain with low low cloud cover = no fun.

My mega brownie point master plan had been for an overnight trip to pristine Nong Khiew & Muang Ngoi, but with no rain gear it all got canned.

48 hrs later, both happy go lucky & I got bored & claustrophobic in the room. Then happy- go-lucky got a cold, full moon hit & I thought time to hit the road. So I left happy-go-lucky to watch TV in the room & catch the plane back to Cnx the next day. Good move I thought, but....

1. On checking out of the Phousi 1, after 5 days the room rate had suddenly risen from US$20 - US$30 a night. After complaining, they explained we could have the room for US$25 as indeed we had not had any breakfasts, and that the reason for the higher tariff was that we had been given the wrong room & had stayed in a more expensive room - so had to pay more. I was not impressed, registered my disgust, paid & left.

2. At Hin Hoep approx 100 kms out of Vte karma got me & the AT died. Yep the old dodgy electrics were back to haunt me. It looked like the battery was dead, so after 45 mins I managed to source a Honda Dream battery, piggy back it onto the main battery & start it off a car battery. Ran it for 10 mins & it all seemed ok. Should do the trick I thought & get me into Vte; as long as I don’t stop the bike.
It was 5pm & I reckoned with a bit of luck I could get into Vte at dark or maybe ride 15-20 mins with the park lights or go local & ride with no lights…….ha.ha.

I set off at a fast pace & made it down the road for a considerable way before it all cut out again – a mega 15 kms down the road from Hin Hoep. Not very good eh? And almost in the middle of nowhere - 20 metres past a police box & checkpoint. Good luck I thought. And it was, sort of.

Unbelievably one of the cops came over & asked if I’d been on a big bicycle tour 5 years earlier. Well, yes I had actually, riding escort for 40 crazy pommy cyclists, peddling from LPQ – Vte.

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Yep that was the one. He’d too had been one of the escorts for part of the trip. Absolutely incredible & almost unbelievable. Previously he’d been stationed at another police checkpoint further up the road, but under the local system they got rotated every 6 months through a series of provincial checkpoints & where I’d gloriously broken down now was his current post. .......
No trouble sir, just sit down, have a drink of water & we’ll get you a pick up to run you into Vte. Too good to be true? It was.
2 1/2hrs later the wooden plank the traffic cops had for a roadside seat had become a bit uncomfortable. Even the novelty of sitting roadside with them & watching how they made their pocket money had worn off.
Earlier on I’d made a phone call to Fuark’s in Vte asking for a pick-up, but he advised the asking price of 2,000 baht was a bit much & it was best to get a pickup from where I was. And there were lots of them, but all twin-cab vehicles with short trays. Not really enough space for an Africa Twin, unless they let the tailgate down, but no one wanted to be bothered with that. I reckon the police must have stopped at least 20 pickups & asked, but after one look at the lengthy AT, the driver always shook his head & drove off. I finally relented & phoned into Fuarks & requested the gold plated pickup – his elder brother. Another 1 ½ hrs later he arrived. The bike was loaded into the back & off we trundled to Vte. We hit town at 12.15pm, a mere 7 hrs after I’d broken down 100 kms away. Not exactly express travel you could say.....

(To finish soon!)
 

DavidFL

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The next morning I checked in with Fuark’s about the delivery of the new battery from Bangkok & it was late. T-I-L.
But 36 hrs after dumping the bike in Vte at Fuark’s it was there, so you cant really complain about the international service.

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The next few hrs Fuarks went all over the bike charging system to conclude that indeed it was all ok & the culprit was….
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Now this delightful discovery has already been written up under
Stuff Ups
https://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorc ... 7-s50.html

“The local expert in Cnx has simply joined wires by twisting & taping over a join. No soldering & not impressed!! He's now cost me a regulator, one battery & one 2,000 baht trucking fee. “

And I have to admit not wanting to taking a leaf out of the ambassador’s book so I won’t name the shop, as 1 mth later I’m still fuming!!

Anyway 24 hrs later it was still damp & wet-raining so I left Vte & headed home to Cnx in the rain. .......

In the drizzle at the Friendship Bridge on the Lao side.
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And it was wet all the way until half way between Dan Sai & Nakon Thai.

At the gas station in Chiang Khan..
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Note above: how light the GT Rider travels - 2 weeks on the road with that kit bag.

Early morning start. Kings Hotel Car Park Loei….
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At the R2013 turn off into Dan Sai.
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I forced myself to stop & get pix of the damp miserable conditions, just to break up the dreary drudge.
It’s funny though, how you seldom get photos of the boring bits – rain & wet roads, or even the really bad road sections as you’re always concentrating to get through / over it & don’t want to stop.
So even while these wet snaps are boring, it does take an effort to stop, get off the bike, take the gloves off & carefully take out the camera & not get it wet. Quickly snap away & then reverse the whole process. (Taking them in the dry is a breeze isn’t it Captain?)

Finally finished this mediocre report, but I feel guilty if the job's not done.

But the Luang Prabang loop from Chiang Mai is a real beauty & one that any resident biker living in North Thailand, or passing through MUST DO! You really don't have any excuses now.

Check out
1. Silverhawk's report: Laos the EZ Way
https://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorc ... t3572.html

2. Blkphantoms report: Phantoms on the Luang Prabang Loop
https://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorc ... t3737.html

3. Scotty007’s Report: Chiang Mai – Luang Prabang – Round Trip Jan 08
https://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorc ... t3622.html

Just get out & ride. It doesn't matter what bike you ride just as long as you do ride & try to enjoy life.
 

Yunus

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Feb 16, 2008
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Hi,

I'm riding up to Laos this April with two other friends.We were thinking of meeting up with you David or any other bikers who may be in the area at the time.
How do we contact you to arrange a meet-up when we are at the GT?
My estimation will be that we will reach GT between the 17th-19th of April.
By the way, do we deal in Thai Baht when we are in Laos or do we have to do currency exchange?If so, please advise. Where to change etc..

Thanks in advance. :p
 

burnjr

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Dec 28, 2005
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yunus,
are u going with adi hayabusa...and abol malayisan...take care bro..yap
in loas u can use bath no problem..u can meet davidfl at changmai. abd buy the map from him is nice and helpfull person ..i meet david one went we all going to loas and vietnam boarder.but the road from luang lamtha to luang prabang a bit bad..fromluang lamtha to pak don ..
take care bro :D :arrow:
 

scotty007

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You should exchange your Thai Baht for Kip as soon as possible as there is often exchange confusion, especially when you are off the beaten track, and often if not always the rate will go against you anyway!

Renember a dinner in Loas with FL, Lloyd and Walter where we paid in US, Baht, Yuan and Kip, that took a while to sort out!
 

Yunus

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Feb 16, 2008
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scotty007 wrote: You should exchange your Thai Baht for Kip as soon as possible as there is often exchange confusion, especially when you are off the beaten track, and often if not always the rate will go against you anyway!

Renember a dinner in Loas with FL, Lloyd and Walter where we paid in US, Baht, Yuan and Kip, that took a while to sort out!
Ok noted.Thanks bro.
So i presume there is a currency exchange near the Thai border where I can do the BAHT-KIP exchange?
Cos i cant seem to get it down here in SGP...
 

Yunus

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Feb 16, 2008
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burnjr wrote: yunus,
are u going with adi hayabusa...and abol malayisan...take care bro..yap
in loas u can use bath no problem..u can meet davidfl at changmai. abd buy the map from him is nice and helpfull person ..i meet david one went we all going to loas and vietnam boarder.but the road from luang lamtha to luang prabang a bit bad..fromluang lamtha to pak don ..
take care bro :D :arrow:
Yes i am going with them.
Anyway i got Laos map from Mtechnik already.
Saw ur post in MBC.
Thanks for the advice bro..
Anyway,nice knowing u..
Maybe we can meet up in KL someday..
Insyaallah..
 

burnjr

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Dec 28, 2005
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yunus,
yap we can meet up in kl when u come down to kl just calme or sms me at +6012-2568742. cu bro.. :D :arrow:
did done the china visa and get a latter fromloas ambesy..if u get loas latter easy for u to entre and out from loas..no need to pay money to the custom..just buy ur insurence ..
take care bro. :D :arrow:
 

Yunus

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Feb 16, 2008
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burnjr wrote: yunus,
yap we can meet up in kl when u come down to kl just calme or sms me at +6012-2568742. cu bro.. :D :arrow:
did done the china visa and get a latter fromloas ambesy..if u get loas latter easy for u to entre and out from loas..no need to pay money to the custom..just buy ur insurence ..
take care bro. :D :arrow:
Actually i got the letter from Laos Embassy in SGP oredy.
As for China Visa, Singaporeans need no visa for entry into China for a period not more than 15days. So i wont need a visa for China.
As for the insurance, u mean Thai Insurance or travel insurance from SGP?
Anyway thanks for the tips.
Any tips will be USEFUL...
Will try to make time to meet up.
I will sms u if there is a chance.
Take care.

Btw i might just be riding up with Adi. Abol will join us later on.
 

burnjr

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Dec 28, 2005
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Yunus,
i means insurence for third party in loas/thai/china..and ur personal insurence to cover u during travel..spore have good insurance cover..it what happen to one of couple rider( malay}.from spore make accidents in loas..so the insurance cover them until return back to spore..
hope u enjoy ur ride..and just cal me if u arive kl.anyway can u gve me ur contact number ..may be this ssaturday i will go down to jb..for mee rebus tulang at danga bay.around 7pm..will call u if i ride to jb.
c u bro.. :D :arrow:
 

dad

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Jan 21, 2008
19
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have just completed the luang prabang loop on suzuki gsx1400 without
any problems.about 80km of non sports bike road,just slow down & no
broken bits....plenty of beds avail everwhere we stoped.one important
factor is almost NO MEDICAL SERVICES avail & could be hours away.so
wear lots of padding & ride sober..

my trip was 12 nights ex mai sai to nong khai +splash out in utaradit (1 night) & all up b15000.including visa, laos customs & insurance,two persons..one 66yo.

dad...
 

DavidFL

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dad wrote: have just completed the luang prabang loop on suzuki gsx1400 without
any problems.about 80km of non sports bike road,just slow down & no
broken bits....plenty of beds avail everwhere we stoped.one important
factor is almost NO MEDICAL SERVICES avail & could be hours away.so
wear lots of padding & ride sober..

my trip was 12 nights ex mai sai to nong khai +splash out in utaradit (1 night) & all up b15000.including visa, laos customs & insurance,two persons..one 66yo.

dad...
You little beauty Dad. Bet you had a great time on that bike. At 66 I reckon life's only beginning again with that 1400 between your legs.
 

Rhodie

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Mar 5, 2006
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The Guv'nor has asked me to update my adventures having abandoned him in the clutches of the HGLGF and a wet and wild storm!

Then the rains came!

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I left Luang Prabang early and was soon riding in the clouds, with a thick fog that enveloped the mountains above the city.
The visibility was down to 2 metres at times, bringing my speed down to a walking pace.
The road wound its tortuous way with hair pin bends and edge-of-the-road drop-offs of hundreds of metres.
On-coming trucks were driving only with sidelights on making their appearance an immediate and menacing experience on a road, barely a car's width wide.
Riding through the mountain hamlets, ghostly figures would appear with alarming immediacy.
Behind me, I had gathered a fleet of NGO 4x4s who were using me as their pointman!

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Finally the clouds lifted mid-morning to reveal stupendous views.

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This road is considered by the biking cognoscenti to be one of the best riding roads in the world with views -and in poor weather - drop-offs to die for!

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The traffic at least was visible.

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Cresting the mountain range is one of the most beautiful vistas I have come across of the
mountain Phou Bia which looks as though it comes from the pages of JRR Tolkein.

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Here's an image from a previous trip with better visibility

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Further along were a pair of conical karsks that my son christened "Madonna's Cones"!

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The road to Vang Vieng was great.
The sun had burned off most of the heavy cloud and it was a clear run in past these magnificent karsk formations to the hippy resort town.

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There's a temple with a wonderful menacing figure.

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Scary if you have had one of the "happy shakes".

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Sadly I had to make Vientiane by nightfall so after a quick bite to eat and refuelling I made the last 150kms before dusk.

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Vang Vieng

Vientiane - capital of the communist PDR Laos.
Awoke to more rain - the cold weather front from China has blanketed northern Thailand, Laos & Vietnam with monsoon rains.
Not great as I hope to make the Cambodian border tomorrow a 800+kms run south east. Then hope to make Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, the next day.

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First off a check on the bike and chain lube - these guys are old friends but only used to working on XR250s!!!
The bike is running great after considerable teething problems.
Getting to know, appreciate and love the old gal.

A quick round of sightseeing showing of a lump of British iron!

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Vertical Runway - also known more formerly as the Victory Monument,
this concrete monstrosity was made from concrete donated by Uncle Sam to extend the airport's runway;
but the apathetic Laos government thought that by declaring victory & building a monument to this pipedream
victory would surely follow.
Well, you all know how the story ended, sadly.

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Triumph @ communist leader's museum. Mercifully closed.

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A Laos family wanted to have their photo taken with the Scrambler at the Laos national Wat.

Packing now for the 2000 kms haul down to Cambodian coast.
Just had a call from the lowlife who took my wallet - would I like to buy the cards back??
Ommmmmmmmmm!
Back to the trip...

I had hoped to catch up with David who I had ridden into Laos with.
He had stayed a few days longer in Luang Prabang with his noted Blues singer girlfriend, Meow.

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But he was having electrical problems with his Africa Twin and had broken down twice before hiring a pickup to bring him and his 14 year-old beast down to Vientiane.

So I set off just after dawn leaving Vientiane before the morning’s traffic got underway Having has a brief & most useful coffee with Alaska Joe.
It was his ability to ride from Phnom Penh to Vientiane in two days on a 200cc Yamaha, that made my mind up to go for it.

The last few days had seen periods of torrential rains and it wasn’t long before it started spitting and then raining properly.
Traffic was light and I was able to make good progress in spite of the rain.

Heading south-east the road only connected with the Mekong a few times. At Thakek, almost half-way,
I pulled into the sleepy riverside town for coffee and toast.
Filling up at the local Caltex the bike ran poorly until the next refill a hundred miles or so further south.

Jimoi had warned me of adulterated fuel, even from ‘reputable’ filling stations.
If you ever into adventurous dirt riding you can contact him through http://www.remoteasia.com
He was about to set that very same morning with RobertH & Alaska Joe on a grueling recce run off-road in this foul weather.
Rather them than me I said barreling down 13 with limited viz again!

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Riding Route 13 south on the good Chinese road, apart from boredom there were the natural hazards of chickens, goats dogs, hogs & kids.
But it was the cows and water buffalo, whose tendency to bolt across the road meant a cautious use of the throttle.

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The burning season has begun and the air was filled with smoke, getting into my nostrils making me sneeze violently in the helmet and adding further visual impediment to my already bug-splattered helmet.

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It was late afternoon when reached I Pakse, the southernmost town in Laos, just in time to watch the sun slip slowly down behind the Mekong and Thailand.

Again another early start as I had wanted to make Phnom Penh before dark.
I was on the road to make the 150kms to the border before dawn, so when the sun rose it bathed the paddy fields in a golden light .

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Glorious

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Past the 4000 islands above the waterfalls –

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when I last stayed here I had to cross on a pontoon boat made from canoes.
An interesting experience

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The Phapheng Waterfalls – its name meaning the ‘Noise of the Mekong’ and reputedly at 14 kms, the widest in the world.

Crossing the border in the past, the road was an abysmal potholed bone-jarring jungle track.

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You can see from my trip with my son on the GS here @ YouTube.

This time Laos customs just waved me through and I found what I believed was a newly graded jungle track.

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In fact what I was looking for was this red road highway with burning brush and earth obstacles.

No matter I was soon through both Laos &Cambodian immigration.
Cambo customs hadn’t woken up yet and I was told to complete the paperwork for the bike in Stung Treng 50+ clicks further south.

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When I had last ridden this road in the rainy season the dirt road was a muddy quagmire in parts, now it is smooth grippy Chinese asphalt.

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The burning continues.

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At Stung Treng the brokenroad down a causeway to board the ‘conventional’ ferry proved some of the most challenging riding to date.

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When I last crossed here they loaded my GS onto the prow of the boat, for a 15 minute heart-stopping trip across this large tributary river of the Mekong.

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The newly built Chinese bridge was a tantalising but useless sight.

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For the populace continued to use the ferry.

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Stung Treng is the main clearinghouse for drugs in South East Asia so it was ironic to be greeted by this billboard warning of trafficking.
I wanted to be legit so headed off to the customs office, but was abruptly to be on my way they weren’t interested in paperwork!
I still had 500+ kms before Phnom Penh and it was late morning so I gassed up on some urine coloured fuel and headed out on a dirt road.

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This soon turned to tar and for a while I was the only vehicle heading on the South East loop by the Vietnamese border under a burning sun – the gauge read 42 degrees celcius- with a blue sky and white puffies.

My serene riding sojourn came to an abrupt halt when I realised that Cambodians have scant regard to traffic norms or regs.

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Oncoming cars would cut the corner even though there was no other traffic – except me –
and bikes barely register in car/truck/bus/coach drivers’ consciousness, as a hazard.
I was forced onto the roadside dirt more than a few times.

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Initially I would beep and aim a kick at their side-door until I realised such actions were futile and concentration was better spent on avoidance.

As I neared Phnom Penh I met the outbound weekend commuters.
Bluntly put, this was terrifying, as I would meet two oncoming trucks racing each other vying for the slim space on a single lane carriage way.

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This included pigs going to market.

When I reached Phnom Penh I was pretty spent, having been in the saddle for nearly twelve hours.

In Phnom Penh the traffic is pretty much fast & furious with the only rule being enforced is the use of headlights by bikes and other vehicles being verboten.
Unless you are a person of note.
The one frequent sight in Cambodia, is the number of luxury SUVs baring the number plates of the RCAF [Royal Cambodian Armed Forces].
Either the army is the most comfortably transported army in the world, or, there is a scam going down… This is not a multiple choice question!

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PP Trafic is best seen here in this YouTube vid for the experience.

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I had enough trouble staying alive to take more pix.

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Whilst in Phnom Penh I had the rear rack reinforced by Bernard @ the Bike Shop.
A decent dirt riding Frenchman who ensures that customers’s bikes are professionally worked on – not a common practice.
Also, had an oil & filter change – using one for a car.

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At the Palace - note the gaffer taped out headlight

Jessie flew in from Bangkok for 2 days R'n'R and bravely learned to ride the Scrambler sidesaddle
whilst giving encroaching motordop [scooter taxis] the death stare.
Great & plucky Gal!

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Phnom Penh sits beside the Tonlesap River.

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The Tonlesap river flows past the city’s front meeting up with the Mekong.
The Tonlesap is one of the world’s few rivers that reverses its flow in the rainy season.

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The point where the two rivers meet.

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The ‘mountainous’ Wat Phnom after which the city gets its name
 

Rhodie

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Mar 5, 2006
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Cheers Mat

But completely lame & tame compared to what you get up to.

If it were not for Alaska Joe having proved it were possible on a 200, then I would have take 3 or 4 days!
But I would have stopped off to see a bit of the country around Thakek and possibly gone over to see what Hovis is up to in Banglung.

Road riding in Cambo, particularly in & around PP is just unpleasant nowadays.

I was musing on "Loops" especially something really challenging,
and perhaps BKK-CNX-LPQ-Vtne-Pakse-PP-BKK could be done by the most determined in 6 days - certainly in seven.
The only one I know who does such madcap mileage is RobertH [The Heinkel] piloting his KTM Death Star.

Anybody up for the challenge?
 

cdrw

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Oct 6, 2006
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Davidfl wrote: ...."The Oudomkham, on the south side of town, 0.8 kms past the airport turn off & on the right heading out. It’s a good one, huge rooms, big secure car park & a mere 250 Thai baht a night."

I stayed there March '07. A nice place, big room and affable owner. Evidently inflation has since taken place as the room was 240-Bt when I was there. :shock: But, I did cause a problem when I stayed there. When I plugged the TV into the wall socket, the complete hotel shorted out and lost power! An hour later they remedied the problem!

And, Oudom Xie is memorable to me for another problem:
The road south from LNT was partially paved with sections of dirt and rocks. As I approached Oudom Xie, on a slight downhill section entering town, I tried to downshift few times to no avail. I looked down and realized my shift lever had fallen off somewhere earlier on the road! The Suzuki 250 was now stuck in the 5th of the 6 gears and I'd fry the clutch if I tried to continue. A pair of pliers put me into 2nd gear. I went to every moto dealer and shop seeking a shifter. Even thought maybe a moto rocker-type shifter would work, if the back section was cut off. But if didn't fit the bikes shifter spline. I was fearing having to endure mega gear changes, with the pliers, and slowly work my way back to Thailand to obtain a proper shifter! Just before the OudomKham Hotel there was the last bike repair shop in town, on the opposite side of the road. The shop was run by a Vietnamese gal. In short and to my surprise, they had a brand new shifter that fit my bike!! The shifter, a chain adjustment and oiling cost me $6-US. Boy was I both lucky and happy!

But, the most startling thing was the young Vietnamese owner's fashion statement. In the picture below you can see her, in the center with a white cap...she is wearing her bra on the outside of her t-shirt!

Attached files
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DavidFL

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Davidfl;228801 wrote:

We expected a subdued breakfast the next morning, but it was definitely livened up by the” new love of my life”....
Getting off the bike outside the Keomoungkol a cute little 5 - 6 yr old girl appeared from the construction site next door ran over & said hello. Totally 100% full of confidence & precocious.
I asked her if she’d eaten & had breakfast. The reply was no. Well, why not come & join us for brekky with your brother. No reply.

She just walked into the restaurant, pulled out a chair & sat down. Both Rhodie & I were gobsmacked. The next 20 mins were entertaining in the extreme. What a wonderful start to the day.
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It’s a long long time since I’ve met such a smart happy young kid as this one living on a construction site with mum & dad pouring concrete & putting bricks together. So if you’re ever in Oudom Xai, eat at the Keomoungkol & if they are still building the bank next door, look out for a future Miss Oudom Xai beauty & brains champion. She’s definitely going to be a winner & go places!!
20 December 2010
A couple of years later.....still an amazing little girl. Now speaks Lao / Chinese / English..

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Runs Mum's shop when she is not there. Takes orders, cooks, washes & checks the bills. Still an absolute star.

Rhodie time for a "cameo comment."
 

DavidFL

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Davidfl;228462 wrote:
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Above: Fueling up in Luang Nam Tha.

With the party night out the way it was back to normal & on the road to LPQ via Boten & Oudom Xai.

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The road from Luang Nam Tha – Boten is still a beauty – race track smooth, swooping, flowing, but
you do have to watch out for the trucks & Chinese CRV drivers near the border at Boten.

And just a few kms east of Luang Nam Tha you need to watch out for the road repair gang who nonchalantly sit in the middle of the road on the blind corners chiseling away at the flaws in the asphalt.

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No warning signs or hazard cones – I just about wiped a couple out going into a nice fast sweeper. I almost fell off with laughter then as we cruised by, no-one batted an eye lid. Perhaps the workers were deaf, or even blind! It was another day sitting in the middle of the highway chiseling away & getting buzzed by cars. I wonder what sort of worker’s compo they got.

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Here’s the Na Teuy / Boten turn off in 94
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It’s not quite the same now of course. The road’s well made & well trafficked, plus the Chinese / Japanese natives were incredibly friendly & attractive…
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as you can see. This was one of the more bizarre titillating roadside photo shoots we were able to engage in, & all under the watchful eye of the boyfriend / husband who was as dumbfounded as Rhodie & I were.

After the Na Teuy damsel sidetrack it was up to Boten for a quick peak & photo shoot.
And indeed as Silverhawk reported, it’s all Chinese there now with the hotel casino & shopping centre.
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This is all a long way from the 94….
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and now
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But it’s always good for a nice photo op
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Rhodie fueling up yet again, at Na Teuy.

An update on Boten & the Casino....

From The Economist May 26th 2011

Busted flush
How a Sino-Lao special economic zone hit the skids

May 26th 2011 | BOTEN, LAOS | from the print edition

Soon all this will be jungle again

AT HOME and abroad, China is a byword for fast-track development, where yesterday’s paddy field is tomorrow’s factory, highway or hotel. Less noticed is that such development can just as quickly go into reverse. Golden City, in Boten, just over the border from China in tiny Laos, is a case in point.

When a Hong Kong-registered company signed a 30-year, renewable lease with the Lao government in 2003 to set up a 1,640-hectare special economic zone built with mainland money and expertise, Golden City was touted as a futuristic hub for trade and tourism. The builders promptly went to work, and a cluster of pastel blocks rose amid the green hills of northern Laos. Thousands of Chinese tourists and entrepreneurs poured into the enclave, drawn largely by the forbidden pleasures and profits of gambling, which is illegal in China, except in Macau. Today the main casino, inside a three-star hotel, lies abandoned, its baize tables thick with dust.

The trouble started in December, when Chinese gamblers found that the operators refused to let them leave until they had coughed up for betting losses. Officials from Hubei province apparently negotiated the release of several “hostages”, but many more continued to be held against their will. Accounts in the Chinese media say that casino recruiters lured gamblers with offers of free travel and hotel rooms, only to be kept captive and beaten when their credit ran out. Lao villagers swap grisly tales of corpses dumped in the river.

Chinese authorities have since put the boot into Boten. In March the foreign ministry warned citizens not to gamble in Laos and accused Golden City of cheating its cross-border customers. It said it had demanded that Laos close down the casino. Last month the casino duly shut, and the smaller gaming halls have since gone too. The 232-room hotel, which is almost empty, will be next.

Most shop and restaurant owners have packed up and left, as have the Thai transvestite show and the legions of prostitutes. Stricter visa rules for Chinese tourists have added to the squeeze. A Lao policeman, who admits to having nothing to do, puts the town’s dwindling population at 2,000, down from 10,000 at its peak. The enclave’s economy seems to have collapsed just as the builders hit their stride with a new high-rise hotel and a shopping centre bristling with columns in the classical style.

Golden City says it has pumped $130m into the project’s first phase, including funds from outside investors. A company official, Ginger He, puts a brave face on things, arguing that the slump is a chance to rebrand the enclave as a wholesome tourist destination and import-export zone. She blames the bad publicity on shady Chinese concessionaires who ran the card games in the casino—as if the company had expected angels. Golden City has since declared force majeure to revoke its contracts. Investors might wish to sue under Lao law. But Miss He points out that China had ordered Laos to close the casino. “Little brother cannot fight with big brother,” she says.

At the best of times, cross-border casinos are risky investments, since China often cracks down on outbound gamblers. Warlords in Myanmar have previously felt the consequences, with gambling dens left to rot in the jungle after borders grew tighter. Business folk in Boten say the action may have moved to casinos elsewhere in Laos and Myanmar. A Macau-based company has recently completed a giant riverside casino in the so-called Golden Triangle, where Laos meets Thailand and Myanmar.

But Golden City was supposed to represent more than just a fast buck. The developers persuaded Laos of the benefits of allowing a Chinese-run enclave. Its residents, they said, would “form a huge community and a modern society”, in the words of their brochure. The zone also took on some of the trappings of the Chinese state, including uniformed security guards, development slogans and even the Chinese currency. This gave the false impression that it enjoyed official backing. Instead, it became an irritant that Beijing had to put in its place.
 

jorai

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Jul 15, 2006
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A friend and I are planning a tour of about 3 weeks in November. GT-rider page and forum have been invaluable at this early stage of planning and I am about to order GT hard copy maps in order to plan the route in more detail.

I am based in Siem Reap and use a Suzuki Djebel which is Cambodia-registered in my name. We are not into racing and not into traveling along highways but rather into touring the countryside while enjoying the beauty of it, a chat or meal with locals as well as a fair measure of adventure.

We figure that northern Laos is a great match for these priorities. Since the time window is limited by the 3 weeks my friend can take off from work, it appears plausible that he flies to Chiang Mai while I ride my bike up there from Siem Reap. Part of this reasoning is that the Chiang Mai neighborhood as a starting point is much closer to northern Laos and the best chance of pre-booking a bike (like a Honda XR or Degree) that is in reasonably shape and can be taken into Laos by a foreigner.

I am in the process of ordering GT-Rider maps in order to plan the route at least in rough detail. Coming across this thread made me think that one variation of this Luang Prabang Loop might just be what we were looking for. However, we are not looking primarily for newly build, perfectly surfaced roads. We don’t mind using them to get to what are today the more adventourous places though. We also don’t mind using GPS.

So I guess the kind of route we are looking for is the kind of route the guys in the old photos with the Honda Degrees and kickstart-Bajas woud have chosen. The question, then, is what modifications to the Luang Prabang Loop would be required today to have the kind of experience you guys had back in the days before you got big bellies and shiny bikes?
 

Moto-Rex

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IMO, you would be better off getting your friend to fly into Vientiane, and meeting him there. This would be better for you in two ways. You wouldn't have to ride all the way to Chiang Mai, and it would cut the hassle of crossing the border with a hire bike. There are good bikes for hire in Vientiane.

Once you have GTR map you can look through a few trip reports and work out were you want to go.
You can make up a great Northern Laos Loop starting from Vientiane.

Here is three links of mine, there's plenty more from other riders, hopefully they will give you an idea of what to expect. You will be fine on you Suzuki, as the locals get by ok on the Honda Dreams.

Moto-Rex

Laos Motorcycle Tour. Nov 2010. Dust, dirt and beers.

Phongsali - Ou Thai - Bosao.

Xang - Xanamkham
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Mar 30, 2010
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Are you going to ride up through Laos or Thailand from Siem Reap?

If you want to ride with your friend most of the way.. Why not contact Jim at Remote Asia travel and pay a bit extra to have the bike delivered to Pakse and ride up from there together?

Agree with Rex.. better to hire in Laos than take a bike from Thailand.

Then your friend can drop the bike in Vientiane and head back to Siem Reap.

Cheers
Brian