Vientiane - Route 13 South - Savannakhet

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Jun 9, 2009.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    #1 DavidFL, Jun 9, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
    Continued from Chiang Mai – Luang Prabang -Vientiane
    Chiang Mai - Luang Prabang - Vientiane


    Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on which side of the fence you are), it was time to leave Vte & head south in search of more map distributors & networking.

    I took Route 13 South from Vientiane. It’s not quite as “curvy” as R13 North & I had trouble trying to out-corner photo Captain Slash.

    R13 South
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    Mainly because there aren’t any corners.

    First stop was Pak Kading 190 kms out of Vientiane.

    Pak Kading city
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    7-11 Pak Kading
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    It was hot ‘n humid. There was no aircon to hang out in so I did not feel hungry & made do with a couple of drinks.

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    plus a couple of Beng bars, the GT Rider’s fave cheap Charlie chocolate bar energy snack.

    The service in the shop was a tad slow, so I’d helped myself to the fridge for the cold drinks & the box for the Beng bars. What I had not noticed was that the Beng Bar box was sealed & priced. So lo & behold when I asked for the bill for the 2 cans of cold drinks & 2 Beng Bars I discovered I was buying the whole box. You should have seen the expression on my face!
    Oh well lesson learned. It was only 35,000 kip = 145 baht. :oops:
    For the next few days I ate Beng bars every night before I went to bed & when I got up in the morning - good ration food you could say. :lol:
    And the moral of the story – don’t be smart, wait to be served.

    Back on the road. Route 13 South. Still in search of a corner.
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    not really sure about the speed limit sign on a straight road like this.

    Aha. A corner in the distance, already negotiated safely
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    Heavy traffic on R13
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    Light – heavy rain briefly came, but there was no need for rain gear.

    The road however was treacherous in certain spots, even on the straight…
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    You need to watch out for the smooth shiny tar layed on the road for road repairs. In the wet it is like ice, as this driver found out.
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    No other vehicles involved, just a slide & a roll over.

    Tigo mobile phone service has heaps of interesting incomprehensible (to this western mind) advertising signs along the road.
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    Unfortunately by the time I decided to stop & take photos of them, this was the last one.

    I carried on Route 13 South in search of another corner..
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    I fueled up in the rain at a real petrol station.
    For those guys who worry about fuel in Laos. This is what a petrol station looks like in the south.
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    I reckon you see these at least every 80-100 kms.

    And the price of fuel
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    7,690 kip a litre.
    With 240 kip to the baht that = 32 baht a litre.

    Tha Khek was my stop for the night & my place of stay was Green Discovery’s boutique Inthira Hotel.
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    A tastefully renovated old building now a boutique hotel with nice rooms for US$18 a night.

    It’s amazing what you can do with brains & good ideas in such a small space. Congratulations Inthy & Green Discovery.

    The Inthira Tha Khek is a sweet little place to stay.
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    For any of you guys living there in Esarn, why not slip over to Laos via Nakhon Phanom / Tha Khek. Stay a night in Tha Khek at the Inthira, then ride up to Vientiane for a night or two & re-enter Thailand across the Friendship Bridge.

    The Travel Lodge Guesthouse in Tha Khek had the best info display.
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    The Smile House Boat in Tha Khek looks quiet during the day,
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    but at night it is the number # 1 disco in town. I ate at the Smile Pub & Restaurant across the road from the Smile Boat & was amazed by the number of young guys & girls heading onto the boat. I was sure it must have been close to sinking with an oversupply of youth on board.

    The Tha Khek Riveria Hotel is a big newish joint in town & for sale.
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    The Malaysian investors did not get the casino / night club licence they were promised & aren’t making enough money. So if you’ve got a spare US$3.5 million start negotiating. Tha Khek is going to boom in the next few years when the new Friendship Bridge is built.

    Last but not least, The Mekong "Boulevard" at Tha Khek
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    And the river only, looking towards Nakhon Phanom
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  2. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

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    Thanx David

    Surely intresting readings and maybe i take your advice and heading to there when i get my bike in 1 piece some day.
    HW 13 looks lie suitable road to my LT,mainly what i mean that i dont need to worry about too rough terrain

    thanx for sharing again
     
  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Marco
    And NO trouble with hills
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    altitude variation on the "hills" = approx 30 - 40 metres maximum.
    Pico Pico no trouble for your sidecar outfit mate.
     

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  4. Marco

    Marco Ol'Timer

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    Cheers matey

    will do some day(hopefully sooner than later)
    all depends of non existing work now days....but hopes are high :wink:
     
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Time to leave Tha Khek, but I had one final breakfast stop to make & checkout the Phoukhanna Guesthouse as a potential map seller.

    The Phoukhanna's got a small beer garden offering Lao & farang food including "Stakes".
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    It was a mere 10AM & I was amazed to see a group of young Lao school girls already tucking into the beer!
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    Being an Aussie gentleman I had to join them for a sip to ascertain the facts.
    1. Yes indeed it was only 10AM & they were drinking beer.
    2. They were schoolgirls, but today school classes did not start until 1PM so they would drink beer until midday.
    Unbelievable I thought. I wonder what their inebriated brains would be able to absorb at 1PM. Not much I guess.
    When you see this you can't but think the nation's got a problem on the boil.

    45 minutes later I was on the road heading out of Tha Khek city & saw another potential problem on the road....
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    Savannakhet was the next stop & I had a very enjoyable 2 nights here waiting for my laundry to be done.

    The road Tha Khek - Savannakhet is more of the same Route 13 South: flat straight, so no corner or road photos. It's 128 kms of semi-boredom.
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    In Savan the Phone Vilay was my place of stay
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    and at 50,000 kip a night this is the bottom of the range for me.

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    Savannakhet was a pleasant enough place to hang out in. Here I linked up with French Jerome, a fellow Africa Twin Rider.
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    Jerome's been in Savannakhet 2 years & is a mine of info on the local attractions, places & roads to go.

    My fave place in Savan is the Cafe Chez Boune
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    The owner French-Lao guy Boune is a really cool guy who rides a Honda VRX250.
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    The Mekong's wide in Savannakhet
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    but has a nice shady boulevard in most places
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    A young local lass out for a weekend stroll beside the river
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    Probably needs to have a change of diet or see the dentist
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    Mum did not seem to be worried though & certainly did not need a change of diet or need to see a dentist!
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    The Mekong Pub & Restaurant was another cool spot to hang out in Vientiane. Now run by Lao Eric
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    The Mekong Pub is one of Jerome's fave hang outs in Savannakhet & where Moto-Rex linked up with Jerome.

    Another good spot in Savannakhet is the Seven Pub & Restaurant run by Luke. This is probably the most popular backpacker hang out & offers good value for money meals.

    A chicken salad at the Seven P & R
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    Someone at the Mekong Hotel has been playing silly buggers cutting up a GT Rider sticker
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    & I wonder who that was?

    Dusk at the Cafe Chez Boune
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    Brekky at the Cafe Chez Boune
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    Savannakhet was end of the Lao ride this trip & it was time to leave - across the Friendship Bridge & into Thailand at Mukdahan.

    Despite claims that you could not leave via the bridge it was a “no questions” asked routine.

    Laos Immigration / Customs checkpoint
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    I got stamped out. Walked 10 metres to the customs booth & handed in my 2-week expired entry permit. Was asked if I was leaving. Yes was the answer & the reply was OK, good luck to you. Walked back to the bike & rode off across the bridge.

    Exiting Laos approaching the bridge
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    On the bridge
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    Approaching the Thai checkpoint
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  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Bump for Jurgen. :wink:
     
  7. Jurgen

    Jurgen Moderator

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    Thank You David, I am looking forward to the Beng Beng :)
     
  8. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator
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    Some interesting history on the old French town of Tha Khek..

    The Battle of Tha Khek March 1946

    Following the signing of the Franco-Chinese Accords of 28 February 1946 directing Chinese troops to withdraw from Indochina above the 16th parallel, French strategists decided to retake all of northern Laos immediately. Chinese officers on the ground did not object. As a result, a major urban battle shaped up, when Vietnamese and Lao leaders, led by Prince Suphānuvong, decided to defend the city of Thakhek against French forces. On 21 March 1946, under the command of Jean Boucher de Crèvecoeur, European and Lao troops in the Forces du Laos, supported with artillery and airpower, attacked their adversaries in what was a short-lived but intense urban battle. British-supplied Spitfires wreaked havoc on the Vietnamese–Lao troops as they tried to withdraw from the city under heavy fire and across the Mekong to safety in Thailand. The French opened fire from the banks and sent Spitfires to machine-gun from the air hundreds of boats and pirogues trying to transport troops and civilians to safety across the river in Thailand. Suphānuvong himself was injured while trying to escape, saved by a young Vietnamese man who died when he threw himself on top of the Lao prince. In all, the French Forces du Laos contingent lost 19 men, including 12 Europeans and thirty wounded. The adversary lost 400 men, mostly Vietnamese. De Crevecoeur later wrote that the French counted 250 dead within the city of Thakhek itself, suggesting that perhaps as many as 100 perished in the Mekong. In their propaganda, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam accused the French of a massacre. Vietnamese strategists also learned from Thakhek that the defense of Hanoi would need to be thought out very carefully. The battle of Thakhek also made it clear that the city would be an integral part of this violent war of decolonization​
     

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