Bucket List in Laos

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Tjilpi, Jan 24, 2013.

  1. Tjilpi

    Tjilpi Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2013
    Oddometer:
    60
    Location:
    Chiang Mai, Thailand
    Recently I met up with an old mate with whom I hadn't ridden since the early 1970s and we rode Laos on a pair of CRF250Ls.

    Here's some scenes we seened.

    Out of Thailand via this amazing Temple at Chiang Rai.

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    Coffee break along side the magnificent Maekhong River (Mekong)
    One item on Alan's 'Bucket List' was to see the Maekhong.
    Done.

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    A cold Beer Lao once across the river, in Huai Xai.

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    Remnants of the French colonialists in Huai Xai, at Fort Carnot looking across the Maekhong to Thailand.

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    Making our lunch, heading towards Luang Namtha.

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    We travelled with lots of stickers and distributed them to kids along the way.

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    Heading towards Xieng Khok on the Burma/Laos border.

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    The Maekhong at Xieng Khok, Burma on the other side.

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    Trying to beat the rain, heading back to Muang Sing.

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    Then to one of the weirdest places in Asia, Boten.
    It was set up as a Casino city but failed and has become a virtual ghost-town.
    'The Town that Greed Created'.

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    Abandoned.

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    Lao Policeman and his trusty steed.

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    Scenery towards Udom Xai.
    Note the houses clinging to the side of the hill.

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    It doesn't pay to cut corners here; there's all sorts of things on the side of the road; in this case a group of school kids playing cards.

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    A wonderful and inexpensive lunch at Udom Xai.

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    Then on to Luang Prabang and more evidence of the French.

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    Around wonderful Luang Prabang.

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    At a restaurant.

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    Found this guy on the road when riding to Phonsavan.
    U-turned to check that he was breathing.
    He was!
    Doing it tough.

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    Riding in the clouds, heading to Phonsavan.

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    Scenery towards Phonsavan.

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    We stopped at a school which was perched on top of a hill and which had had splendid views. Lucky kids.

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    More stickers.

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    'Craters'
    restaurant and ordnance in Phonsavan.
    (I won't here go into the story of the bombing, the UXOs, the craters and the mysterious jars. That is all available for anyone interested to research).

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    Suffice to say ...

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    Then an early morning visit to the wonderful Plain of Jars Site 1.
    We had it all to ourselves.
    Another item off Alan's 'Bucket List'.

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    One of the many craters at the site.

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    And some old MIGs at the nearby airstrip; no entry!

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    Next day we rode out to Site 2 of Plain of Jars, which has a completely different 'feel' to it.

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    From Phonsavan there's a nice ride to the Vietnam border but on the day we wanted to ride it the rain was too heavy so we rode out from Phonsavan and back towards Vang Vieng.

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    Lao children are so friendly and welcoming of visitors, as are their parents.
    I think they regard us as aliens.

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    The wonderful road cutting through the mountains towards Vang Vieng.

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    In Vang Vieng and a glimpse of an item on my 'Bucket List'.
    Later.

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    Scenery at Vang Vieng.

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    And next morning, a dawn balloon flight over Vang Vieng.

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    So, another item off the 'Bucket List'.
    But a word of warning here; well, two words of warning.

    1 VV has developed a bad reputation for tourist behaviour and 'rip-offs', so much so that the whole place was closed down recently in an attempt to 'clean it up'. That, it seems, has succeeded. But the 'rip-offs' continue. More tourists die in VV than in any other Lao city.

    2 The balloon experience is advertised at $80-$85 per hour. The actual duration of flights is 35-45 minutes and there is nothing you can do about it. There seems to be no accessible contact for the Tourism Authority in Vientiane so that this mob can be reported (not that that would make any difference). So, it's a great flight but you don't get what you pay for.

    Then down to the capital, Vientiane and out to Wat (Temple) Phra Tat Luang.

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    And to their Patu Xai, erected as a memorial to the departure of the French.

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    After a couple of days in bustling VTN it was across the Aussie funded 'Friendship Bridge' and back into Thailand.

    Market in Loei.

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    Two of these for dinner.

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    Great idea; recycled tyres (tires) used as out-door furniture, heading towards Uttaradit, Thailand.

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    And eventually home to dear old 'Coke'.
    (There Coke, you've gone International!.

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    So, almost exactly 3000 trouble-free kilometres in 20 days on 2 very good bikes.
    And the 'Bucket List' has a few more ticks on it.

    Anyone contemplating riding Laos; just do it (at the right time of the year).
    There's now plenty of bike rental places in Laos and in Chiang Mai, Thailand and lots of free information from certain bars, restaurants and people.
    #1
  2. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    675
    Location:
    Oregon
    Great pics :thumb
    Visited Vietnam last year and Laos is on my bucket list as well.
    Thanks for posting.
    #2
  3. GSPD750

    GSPD750 Adventurer

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    Thanks for taking us along. Great people pics. :clap
    #3
  4. Ghostyman

    Ghostyman Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    LA face with the Oakland booty
    Thanks for posting this report, I loved reading it. I rode my very first scooter in Thailand in 2009 and am going back at the end of 2013. This gives me ideas!

    Is there any hassle involved in taking rented bikes across the border into Laos?
    #4
  5. Tjilpi

    Tjilpi Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Thanks for the encouragement guys. (New here)

    'Ghostyman', rental places in Chiang Mai will do all the paperwork for you.
    No hassles.
    An alternative is to rent in Vientiane.

    I have all the details for anyone interested.
    #5
  6. Baytriple

    Baytriple n00b

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2012
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    7
    Great photos. I need to go back there.

    The plain of Jars is a truly mystical place for sure. Also the bomb remnants are a real reminder.

    I will always remember VVieng. Amazing truly outstanding natural beauty of the limestone casks/hills.

    I will also remember walking past a restaurant that was serving pizza and next to it was a girl skinning what looked like to be a rather large rat in a small bucket. Nice!
    #6
  7. gavo

    gavo Slacker

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    Gympie QLD
    Great report and wonderful pictures,I know what u mean about the road from Phonsavan to Vang Vieng, brilliant:clap
    But there's still so much more to see in Laos I have to go back soon.
    #7
  8. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
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    61,496
    Beautiful country! thanks for taking us along and sharing all those great pics :thumb What is the cause of tourist deaths in VV?
    #8
  9. GSForLife

    GSForLife Adventurer

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    Good to see you here finally Tjilpi! Great ride report!
    #9
  10. Unstable Rider

    Unstable Rider Moto Fartografist

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    Great post, enjoyed the story and the wonderful photographs. Makes me miss my camera gear and long for travel.
    #10
  11. Tjilpi

    Tjilpi Adventurer

    Joined:
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    #11
  12. The Nailer

    The Nailer Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Bendigo Vic Australia
    Thankyou for a great report and excellent photos, I road many of the sites 2 years ago and enjoyed seeing them again, a couple of questions ..... did you hire your bikes and if you did could you provide the supplier, also we hired scooters in Vientiane on our trip but can you hire in Thailand and take them into Laos? Kind regards .
    #12
  13. Tjilpi

    Tjilpi Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Chiang Mai, Thailand
    Thanks 'The Nailer'.

    I owned my own CRF but Alan hired from C&P Rental here in Chiang Mai.
    The owner, Lan, is excellent.
    He had new tyres fitted to the bike, new sprockets, spare levers, tubes and even a spare cam chain tensioner 'just in case'.
    Oh, even a can of chain spray.

    He didn't need to keep Alan's passport but required a 10,000 baht deposit which was instantly returned when Alan returned an undamaged and clean CRF to him.

    There are other and bigger rental places in Chiang Mai, but not as good as Lan and C&P.
    I can give you his contact details later if you wish.
    #13
  14. Tjilpi

    Tjilpi Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Chiang Mai, Thailand
    Oh, 'yes', hiring in Thailand and riding (on a ferry) into Laos is OK.
    The most reliable exit/entry point is from Chiang Khong across the Maekhong and into Huai Xai (500 baht ferry).
    Lan at C&P did all the paper-work for this, then there's more paper-work for everyone to do at both ports; this takes about 3-4 hours, depending on the mood the Officers are in!

    Currently, other exit/entry points are unreliable; some get through and others are turned back.

    Oh, probably by late this year a new bridge will be in use from Chiang Khong across to Laos!!
    #14
  15. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    Hey, Tjilpi, a great report! Wonderful pictures, especially of people - and especially the candid shots of kids.

    You should also run a thread of Thai shots: your own backyard is very exotic to many of us here on ADV.
    #15
  16. Tjilpi

    Tjilpi Adventurer

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    Oddometer:
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    Thanks 'rdwalker'; I will submit a look at my own backyard here in northern Thailand.
    Having probs with pics disappearing, reappearing and disappearing from this site though.
    Will sort that out first.
    Rgs
    #16
  17. rdwalker

    rdwalker Long timer

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    I am not sure why you should be having trouble: I see that you are using PhotoBucket as your sharing site. That usually works fine. As a matter of fact, I had no problem viewing your pictures in last two days.

    Alternately, you could try using Flicker - a lot of inmates here use them.

    Some useful info is in this semi-official thread, but I think you are doing pretty good so far. Keep on!

    Regards, Robert.
    #17
  18. Tjilpi

    Tjilpi Adventurer

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    Thanks Robert; the problem seems to have been fixed now.
    #18