Xaysomboune Road. November 2009.

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by Moto-Rex, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Moderator

    Update Xaysomboune road. Nov 2009.

    On the 20th of November, three friends and myself had intensions of riding from Vang Vieng to Phonsavan, going via the Xaysomboune road, but we were stopped by the military at Lak 18 (about 10km east of the HWY13 turn off) and told we couldnt go any further.

    The very pleasant military guy spoke no English, and my Laos is not much better. So I pointed to Phonsavan on the map, and he said we would have to go the long way (via Luang Prabang).

    I spoke to a guesthouse owner who also runs tours in LP about what had happened, and he said no ones aloud to go through there.
    Weather thats true or not, I dont no.
    Maybe Jimoi or David, know more on that.

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  3. mactbkk

    mactbkk Ol'Timer


    Only two ways to get to the PDJ from this area that I know of from that W-E road:

    -- turn left, north, at Huey Kham where the Phu Bia Gold Mine main camp is located, head up through Long Tieng, Sam Thong, and come out three hours later at Lat Huang, about where Jar site 3 is located. I've not heard that this route is open, usually stoppage point is at Long Tieng, if you get that far.

    -- other way is to continue on east through Xaysomboun (Muang Cha) town and on to the small bridge (no 4-wheel vehicles!) just before reaching Tha Vieng, then left, north, to Muang Khoun and Phon Savanh. Jeremy was on this portion of the W-E road last year sometime.

    Might be related to some "difficulties" in the Phu Bia area that's been reported elsewhere, but I have no idea of the credibility of the report.

  4. jimoi

    jimoi Ol'Timer

    It depends on what road you were on, was it the junction at Hoiue Mo?

    Again, just because there is a road on the map does not mean it is an open road in Laos. Military or police blocks are due to many reasons and there are several roads in this general area that are not open all the time.

    One road leading to Xaysomboune is scheduled to be flooded and possibly it was not able to be driven at the time you were there, a possible explanation of your turn around.

    To the east, from Thatom/Thasi side, there have been reports of riders not being allowed to go east to west from time to time.

    This area is beautiful but there are many ways to go in Laos, I do suggest not putting Xaysomboune on your itinerary if possible, why bother.
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    From the guys at City2Sunrise


    March 2010

    You try and plan for the unexpected, but you never expect it when it happens (that's why it's unexpected). Leaving Longsane we head east, deep into Xaysomboune province aiming to turn north to Phonsavan and the Plain of Jars.
    Roads start out sealed but quickly deteriorate, and by lunchtime have turned into rough, roc...ky dirt tracks. No way to describe the feeling of coming around a corner and seeing one of our riders lying against a concrete post with his bike on top of him.
    Long and short of it - Johnny was down with a broken leg, about as far from anywhere as it's possible to be. With the help of our satellite phone we were able to arrange a helicopter evacuation to Bangkok where he's been patched up and now has a couple of weeks to think about all the fun we'll be having, before he can slink home to Sydney...
    We owe a HUGE thanks to a number of people who helped us out - Natalie (Aus Consulate in Vientiane), Sharon (and Kay!) in Sydney (who located and dealt with the insurance people), David the chopper pilot, the local farmers-cum-stretcher-bearers-cum-bike-recoverers, Neo (sp?) and team at Travelguard, and probably a dozen others I know I'm missing. For the location we were in, the response time was pretty good and I know Johnny's grateful to all concerned.

    Anyway, the drama didn't quite end there... Having got ourselves and the bike back to the closest village and with a meal under our belts and beds arranged, we found that the local constabulary didn't appreciate our presence and we were instructed to pack up and ride back with them to the regional police station, 10km away. That road at 9pm was not what we wanted to deal with, but you can't argue with dudes with Kalashnikovs, so we went along. Oh, and they had our passports too... Lots of questions and notes in books, then we were instructed to sleep in the police station. Wasn't until we realised the doors had no handles on the inside that we understood our situation clearly...

    We're back.... and now for the rest of the story. Slept like babies on the floor of the interrogation room then resumed negotiations for the release of our passports. This time they drafted the local teacher who spoke some english - poor guy was sweating bullets. After 'one-on-one' chats to make sure our stories mat...ched, we finally worked out that the issue was the helicopter - they couldn't work out how we'd got one to pick up Johnny, who we were that we had such power, and who Johnny was that all this was possible on his behalf! The local police didn't want to risk letting us go without an OK from someone senior given the wierdness of it all.
    So we waited a few hours for more officials from Xaysomboune to arrive - about 30km away - then went through it all again with them. Result - we must travel with them to Xaysomboune to be interviewed by the district party head.
    One of the cops would ride the fourth bike for us, which suited at it meant 30km less we had to move it ourselves so we went along with it. Your averave Lao policeman is 5'2", and it wasn't long before he fell off. Switch riders - this time a Lao motorcycle cop who could ride - and we made it without incident.
    By this time our calls to the Australian consulate seem to have paid off, as after a cursory chat in Xaysomboune and a small contribution to the police beer fund, we had passports in hand and lots of helpful advice on how to get the bike back to Vientiane.
    So we spent the night in the Phubia Hotel, which I'm pretty sure has never seen westerners before (most of the other guests were Lao and had automatic weapons in their rooms).

    Our friendly police chief had made it quite clear that we should leave Xaysomboune - we 'were not permitted to be there' it seems. It's the first time the fact that Laos is a communist country really made any impact on us - realising that in some parts, the locals are not free to move about as they wish; travel outsid...e of Xaysomboune required police permission.
    For this reason we had no luck trying to get a truck to take Tom's bike out - none of them were authorised to leave the province!
    Whilst Laos is not an oppressive place (I think they're generally too lazy to be bothered oppressing anyone much) it's obvious that everyone looks to the police and party officials for approval for everything they do - even offering food to stranded travellers. I hope we didn't get anyone into trouble... Anyway, with the help of our gun-toting police friends, we negotiated to put the bike on the roof of a coach for the trip to Vientiane, then we retraced our steps to meet it. Back to the Haysoke Guesthouse for the night!

    Follow the guys on facebook
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/City2Sunr ... 0319236646

    The City2Sunrise guys were at the Chiang Mai ToyRide
  6. 2Up Chiang Khong

    2Up Chiang Khong Ol'Timer

    You can duck South of the Nam Ngum Dam Lake, going over to Longsane, then up to Hom, then head off to the East across to Homthat, Muang Huang then North to Hatdiat. Three weeks ago we went this way and once to Hatdiat we headed Southeast to Thasi, then onwards to Vieng Thong and Lak Xao.

    When in Hom we did go North and tried to get to Xaysomboune, but they were having a ten day "Party Meeting" and the area was closed to ousiders.

    You can go our our recent trip report of three parts, 2up Off Road top to bottom, for pics and more details of this area.

    David and Mai
    Chiang Khong
  7. Franz

    Franz Ol'Timer

    Surprise surprise, well look at that, David finally you're back on the board !!!!!! :lol: :D :wink: . Got tired of lurking ?? :oops: :lol: ......55555. David Unk will be happy too !!!!
    Cheers, Franz
  8. 2Up Chiang Khong

    2Up Chiang Khong Ol'Timer

    Hi Franz,

    Yes - Unk did mention somthing along those lines also the minute I posted this time around. But between being rather too lazy to figure out how to post pictures and what good is a story without the pics and not riding areas much different then the norm, well, didn't have much to say. And now that Dave Early has walked me through the pic posting process, I've no longer got "too lazy to learn new tricks" so yes, back, until I can figure out a new excuse for being too lazy.

    Cheers and hope you enjoyed the write up
    Chiang Khong
  9. mactbkk

    mactbkk Ol'Timer

    Below an email exchange with an Ozzie friend who's up in that area working for the Phu Bia Gold Mine folks.

    My email Q to him below, his reply above. No bridges? Looks like I'm too late for a visit to Ban Xon, LS-272.

    Also, attached re the Nam Ngum 3, an ad in this morning's BKK Post.




    All those villages have long been cleared out and there is no road access as all the bridges have been removed also. They just closed the dam's (ll) construction diversion the other day so now starting to fill.


    On Tue, Mar 23, 2010 at 11:58 AM, MacAlan Thompson wrote:

    Have heard there's a whole bunch of people and village moving west of there in the Ban Xon area because of the Nam Ngum II dam. Seen any of that?
  10. 2Up Chiang Khong

    2Up Chiang Khong Ol'Timer

    Hi Mac & others too,

    Mai and I traveled all of this area just last month, but easy to get a little lost as to exactly where everyone is talking about. Possilby we could reference names from a specific map. The GT map is not all that exact - but most of us have one handy, so maybe we could reference using details from that map for starters.

    Mac - can you help us out here please.

    David and Mai
    Chiang Khong
  11. mactbkk

    mactbkk Ol'Timer


    The GT Rider map is fine for this purpose:

    -- As noted on the map, 24.0 km south of Vang Vieng is Tha Houa (boat landing);

    -- East from there to Nam Pao then NNE to Lak 24 & 33;

    -- Where the road then crosses the Nam Ngum is Ban Xon, Ban Son, LS-272, the old USAID base from about March 1970 when Sam Thong, LS-20, went DTT;

    -- Further east is Nam Ngome on the GT map, Huey Khon on other maps, this is the road juction north to Long Tieng, LS-20A, or south via the nice cutoff built by the Phu Bia Gold Mine people;

    -- A bit further east is Thong Khoun (not named on the GT map) which is the heavy read line going south to Long San and Thabok;

    -- And further east is Xaysomboun, Moung Cha, LS-113. Continue on east, if allowed, to cross the foot & motorcycle bridge to Tha Vieng, then north to Moung Khoun and Phonsavanh, or south to Paksan.

    It's the Ban Xon area there on the Nam Ngum that is going glug glug but I have no idea of the extent of the reservoir for the Nam Ngum II dam.

  12. 2Up Chiang Khong

    2Up Chiang Khong Ol'Timer

    Hi Mac,

    Thanks for that - When we were in Nam Gnome, having come up from the south. The road to the West and onto Rt13 was open. This was told to us by folks at the gold mine, althought the gold mine staff use the road leading south to Thabok. Folks coming from Rt13 might have found it closed due to the Peoples Party meeting in Xaysomboune. And the road leading out of Xaysomboune to the east was open also, but you've got that bitch of a downhill bit leading into Vian Leng.

    So where is it that your friend says the villages have "long been cleared out?? and the bridges done away with??

  13. Auke

    Auke Ol'Timer

    Not sure if this will help but this is a screen grab of the raw GPS map for Laos I am working on at the moment. It is all a bit difficult to see as on the raw map everything is shown at the same time but once the map is compiled, the map will become much more easy to see


    Long Tieng is at the top of the picture just a bit right of the Nam Ngum 3 dam (not yet started) while Xaysomboune is on the east (right) side. Bottom left is Nam Ngeum 1 (darkish blue) while the approximate location of Nam Ngeum 2 is show in the center of the picture (light blue cross-hatch).

    On the bottom tight is the turn-of to Ban Phavalek from where you can go east and link up with Muang Huang and onwards to Thasi or south to Pakxane.

    The Nam Ngeum reservoir will flood the old road for some part (from somewhere near Ban Lak 24 to about Nalouang). As indicated, the villages along this road as well as other villages which will be flooded (some 10-15 villages in total I guess) have been cleared out of people, and that may be the reason why everyone is a bit jumpy seeing foreigners around in that area.

    Just south of the Nam Ngeum 2 dam there is a bridge over the Nam Ngeum and I as far as I know there will be a new road linking to Rd 4508 a bit south of the Phu Bia Mine and Camp (have not been able to get this confirmed).

  14. mactbkk

    mactbkk Ol'Timer


    "The road to the West and onto Rt13 was open. This was told to us by folks at the gold mine,"

    Well, just goes to show you how people at the Nam Gome have answers to everything, some yea, some nay. Were you talking to a farang or a Lao? I'd expect the Lao to know more.

    There is/was a daily bus service along this road from the large Hmong settlement at Km 52 on Rt 13N to Xaysomboun. Wonder if it's still running. Be a long way around to Vientiane and Thabok.

    There was also daily bus service to Xaysomboun from Vientiane, also via Rt 13N.

    Following was sent to me on 7 Feb 2010:


    The clearing started about 30 km west of the gold mine and continued pretty much to about 15km from the Route 13 junction (these are rough estimates)

    Vientiane Times (undated)

    Nam Ngum 2 hydro project to relocate 6,000 people
    The Nam Ngum 2 hydroelectric power project in Vientiane province will relocate more than 6,000 people who will be displaced to make way for the reservoir.
    They will move from Xaysomboun district to new homes in Meuang Feuang district.
    The resettlement project involves the construction of three villages and is currently 30 percent complete, according to an employee of the Nam Ngum 2 project.


    So, don't know the status of the road right now, March 2010. Need someone to go up there via Thabok then turn west and see what transpires. I'd planned to do this, via my normal four wheels, but perhaps in May.

  15. 2Up Chiang Khong

    2Up Chiang Khong Ol'Timer

    Hi again,

    When at the gold mine, we were talking with a Lao. Having said that - he told us we could get to the old runway at Longcheng...locals can, but us other folks can not - we got within 4K, before being turned back. And we were there about 12Feb.

    Would be interesting to go from Nam Gnome back to Rt13 to see what is the real story - but all the fun/good riding is to the East, so hard to head West towards a good road and the known;Rt13.

    The mine people use the road back to Thabak - they go this route and then onwards into Thailand and onto the Eastern Seaboard for shiping their minerals overseas. Saw one of their big trucks full of minerals stacked up against the side of a cliff - he kinda miss judged the curve...

    Please keep us posted if you 4wheel it through this area next month.

    And I sent a PM via this site with my phone number, please give me a call.


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