Trip to Huaphan

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Seterik, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. The Sepon group have been out and about again. This time six of us made a week long trip to Xamtai and back.

    Following the main roads to Huaphan via Luang Prabang, Nongkhiaw, Viengthong Xamnua, Viangxai - Na Meow border - Xamtai - "short cutting" back to Salouey on Route 6B via 120 km of dirt road - Namnoen - Muang Kham - Phonsavanh. Here we broke up into two groups. Me and Shorty back to Vte the usual route via Phou Khoun and "The Young Ones" going for Xaysomboun via Tha Viang. First they needed to see the jars.

    After the Jars they managed to drive 60 km in the wrong direction and had to come back the same way and stay overnight in Phonsavanh. To their dissapointment "The Hmong Club" was closed. Next day Ross and Troy head back to Vte the usual way - leaving Tumbleweed and Slangdon to try the Xaysomboun route. Slangdon noticed the military block before crossing the suspension bridge at Tha Viang but Tumbleweed failed to see it. After climbing up the mountain for 30 minutes road he finally noticed that he was alone and had to climb back down again which was probably harder than going up. From his account of the trip it's nothing I need to bother with on my Africa Twin. That's a relief. Back in Tha Viang they turn south to Paksan on a good road. Much if it was tarmac and then finally back to Vte where they arrive not long after Troy and Ross.

    There was a really fun dirt section that started at Nam Meow border opposite the customs house connecting up with the road to Xamtai after about 10 km. The road to Xamtai was a dream with fantastic views and nice fast corners. In Xamtai we stayed at a nice new guesthouse next to the market. In the evening a nice meal on roasted wild boar and deer mest served at the small restaurant opposite the guest house. But first we needed to relax with some Lao Hai. It's a rice wine fermented a closed claypot. After the lid is removed water is poured into the pot and you drink it through a long straw (more like a reed actually). The water is contatly topped up. The drink can be pretty potent depending on how long it's been fermenting.

    The challenge this time was the dirt road from Xamtai back to Route 6B. The turn off is 14 km north of Xamtai and the exit is about 42 km west of Xamnua or 52 km from Namnoen. It became an endurance event after 60 km and the last 30 km I at least was totally exhausted and managed to fall of the bike on a fairly easy section. Tip – bring up to date travel documents. Three check points around the middle section that needs to be negotiated.

    Tumbleweed got his new name after going of the road after passing Phou Khoun toward Luang Prabang. He had some weak excuse like a car was cutting into his lane but we know it all comes down to bike handling skills. Going of the road he managed to hit a log and flew over the handle bars to a soft landing in some grassy spot. Luckliy there was no drop off at this place so neither bike or him had to be winched out.

    There will be photos coming but we are still in the selection process.
  2. Must have been a great trip really into remote areas and look forward to the pictures. I remember the dirt section opposite the Customs house which follows the Nam Meo river and, if I am not mistaken, you will hit the Xamtai road just north of the bridge.

    Is the road to Xamtai now completely asphalt or are there still dirt sections?

    The trail from just south of Phiangthin on the Xamtai road to Saleuy on Road 6 must have been very difficult. Tried it with a truck from the Saleuy side (there is a sign which says 108 km. to the Nam Xam NBCA) but gave up after a few clicks as people said there was no way to get through with a truck and even with a bike would be very difficult. I assume that the 3 checkpoints were also to prevent illegal logging and other activities in the NBCA
  3. The road to Xamtai had just been completed when we were there Feb 2007. Asphalt all the way from Highway 6 to Xamtai.

    Looking forward to seeing some pics of "6B".

  4. Photos - in no particular order

    Misty morning fram Viangkham to Xamnua


    Hin Tang - On route to Xamnua


    Coffee break at Hua Muang junction


    Xamnua - The New improved


    That Muang Gh in Xamnua - nice with really hot showers


    On route to Na Meo border


    Na Meo border


    Short cut from Na Meo to Xamtai road


    Turn off to Saluey from Xamtai


    To Saleuy 1st bridge


    To Saleuy - kids & bike


    To Saleuy - 1st crossing


    To Saleuy - fix gear shifter - fix gaswire - How Did I get this Wet!!


    To Saleuy - just another crossing


    To Saleuy - How much for the gong?


    To Saleuy - Unsecurity check


    To Saleuy - New guy in the class


    To Saleuy - The Lost One's Great Huaphan Tour has arrived


    To Saleuy - Security and name check


    To Saleuy - Girl and ponies

  5. To Saleuy - Group photo


    To - Saleuy - Toll bridge fee 5000 Kip


    To Saleuy - not too many bikes pass here


    Finally in Saleuy - 7 hours 120 km later back on tarmac


    Phonesavanh to Paksan - big rock


    Phonesavanh to Paksan - still under construction


    How much for the chuck?


    Where are we now?


    Back in Vte. Look how happy they are.


    At Hinheup - bridge is repaired.


    To Xamnua - Hin Tang - tall rocks


    To Xamnua - Hin Tang - rocks with a view


    More to follow
  6. Missed a few details there Captain but captures some good moments! Still can't view the photo's though for some reason?

    Oh, well better the untold stories than the disclaimer...
  7. I've just run this road between 14 km north of Xam Tai to Saluey a few days ago and wow what a track. Trucks can pass up until about 27 km in from Saluey but there is no way to pass around a slide area at the moment and I didn't see any equipment out there to clear. Pretty much all of the track was tough going and the recent rains made some interesting cuts in the track here and there. I'd have to caution those wanting to ride this as the road will not improve for a long time and it's an advanced level riding outing.

    7 hours and 120 km for the Lost boys but we took a bit longer and racked up 175 km with diversions on the side tracks and spend the night some 50 km west of the turn in point.

    A few things for those thinking of doing this run:
    - Limited services out there. Fuel is scarce and we did find a bit very difficult to locate.
    - Leave way early from Xam Tai.
    - This is not a track for anytime when it rains. The inclines are severe in some sections and we rode dozens of water crossings, some low and two up to the air filter box.
    - If you don't have this on GPS or have language skills, it's very easy to go on the wrong track. The main run has over 20 turns on it that lead 1 way in/out and consume time and fuel.
    - I think it is best to run from the Xam Tai side due to the inclines. The first 20 km or so on the track are quite steep and to ride down them after a long day will be pretty tough.

    We overnighted at the main camp for the road crew that cut the track. There will be no real upgrades on the road as this stationary crew is now into mineral exploration and have all the equipment in place. The main man didn't seem to think anything would be done on the track for some time.

    Overall, a great ride but very difficult and draining. I'll run it again in dry season 2011 for sure.
  8. Any chance of some pictures from this section? The OP's pictures from that particular part of their trip don't show.

  9. Luke
    Fixed the photos for you. (One of the teething problems from the forum upgrade that has still not been fixed! :evil: )
  10. I didn't take any stills but did run about 7 hours of video. In about a month I'll get time to pluck a few stills out of the video.
  11. Thanks David, that was efficient fixing there!

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