Finding Freedom...World Wide Ride

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by BcDano, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,261
    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    The attraction here is being on the river, paddling up into the lagoon, and to visit the Konglor cave. This is a huge pitch black cave where you ride on a long boat 7.5 km thru the cave twisting and turning guided by the driver using spot lights. We opted to also take a 45 min long boat ride from the resort up the river to the cave entrance.

    At Konglor park headquarters you buy your cave ticket and the driver takes you across the river as it is a 200 m walk to the navigable entrance to the cave. 100 m inside the cave itself you step into one of the boats moored there.

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    You ride about 5 min and then get out for a short hike thru the lighted area with stalactites and stalagmites. You meet your boat on the other side of the short hike and continue the journey on the river.

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    There are some rapids at the far end that you must walk up, but get to ride down on the way back! The ticket is for the return ride as well

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  2. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    The next day we lazed about all day until Vicki told us we really needed to do something! So we borrowed a canoe from the hotel and paddled up the “spring”. This is the smaller waterway that joins the river and starts deep in a cave that is now collapsed, but you can see the water welling up at the entrance.

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  3. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,261
    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    We had some bad news from Trevor at 2 pm when we got back from the cave. The paper work “will not be ready today” was the word from the tourism office. They are only open until 5 and so he will not get to customs until Monday. This gives us only 3 days to get to our flight in Siem Reap. Doable, but not fun.

    Well it is certainly a roller coaster ride of emotions today for us. Trevor messaged us again at 430 that they actually got the paperwork and he got to Customs, but not in time to make his flight for today. This means booking another and so we are now up to 600$US for the TVIP/flight, and visas at this point.

    And we thought Thailand was going to be the serious challenge to get into. We still have that hurdle to deal with, but at least we are not under a time constraint of our flight Nov 2 by then. Our plan is to try for the southern most border in Cambodia to get to Thailand and use the Carnet. We are not at all keen to sit 2 weeks to apply and wait not to mention pay exorbitantly for Thai tourism permits. If they refuse us at the border we will be prepared to camp out in no man’s land as we can not go back to Cambodia as the TVIP expire Nov 30. If that does not work we will have to hire a bonded truck to take them to the Malaysian border.

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  4. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
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    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    Trevor has managed to get a flight back the next day and that means he arrived to Vientiane at 1340 and was on the bike riding at 1430. It is 309 km to the Spring River resort and with some traffic and navigational and Orvar’s GPS “issues” they finally arrived at just before 8 pm. Just in time to celebrate Daniel’s birthday and even brought a card and a “gift”. Thank you so much to Vicki and her staff since they must have traveled a long way to find birthday candles (they drive 6 hours to Thailand for bacon.)


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    The plan was for them to visit the cave tomorrow and then we would all “take the loop” thru the national forest and end up in Thakhek. This is a 245 km and 5-6 hour trip. Sunset is at 540 and it is pitch black at 6. We made the mistake of waiting for them to get back from the cave as by the time they did it was almost 2. We had decided that if they did not get back and we were not riding at 1 we would take the main road to Thakhek, which is 179 km and takes just over 3 hours.


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  5. SavannahCapt

    SavannahCapt Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2009
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    Location:
    SE Georgia
    Hey Daniel, Hope you had a happy birthday!
  6. powderzone

    powderzone Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2016
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    Calgary
    Happy birthday Daniel!
    Still following along from snowy Fernie, BC.
    Saralou likes this.
  7. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

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    Feb 19, 2011
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    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    Great to hear you have snow. Dan's parents for Sunpeaks have none :(! Hello from Borcay! S&D
    powderzone likes this.
  8. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

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    Feb 19, 2011
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    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    When they arrived so late and they still wanted to go the long way. We were not prepared to ride in the dark and Thomas the owner at Spring River said there was limited places to stay after the half way point. In the end they were 3 hours to go 160 km and ended up at a small very simple guest house at dark. We on the other hand had a very nice ride over the mountains and then onto the 13S to Thakhek and arrived before dark.

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  9. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
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    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    We found a very nice boutique hotel right on the Mekong! Splurge night of luxury for a change. We had to walk almost a km to find a working ATM and when we did there was 5 located in the same spot. The hotel also has a restaurant on the river with very good food and a view of Thailand across the river. It is quite striking to see the difference in urbanization on the Cambodian verses the Thai side. The Thai side look all lit up!



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  10. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
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    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    We were asleep by 2130 and so up and well rested at 630! We had a nice included breakfast in our stay and then we walked along the river for a bit to catch the monks walking and cycling on their way to school.

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    SmilinJoe, MaNDan and SavannahCapt like this.
  11. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

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    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    The ride today is 372 km to Tad Fane waterfall just east of Pakse and is on the 13S. This is almost all straight and thru farmland, but this means we could go 90-100 mostly.


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  12. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

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    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    We stopped for some 95 Octane as we had not seen it yet in Lao and for some iced latte frappes at “cafe Amazon”, which tasted even better than at home.

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    The next rest was at a Wat. The young monks were a bit shy, but 2 were brave enough to sit on Lulu for a photo op.

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    SmilinJoe, MaNDan and SavannahCapt like this.
  13. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

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    Feb 19, 2011
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    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    The cabin we booked for tonight are 43 km east of Pakse at the Tad Fane waterfall. The road is in pretty bad shape for most of the way with pot holes you could fall in. Arriving at the “resort” at just about 2 we checked in and then enjoyed the amazing view of the falls.


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  14. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

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    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    The other guys, who had left this morning from about an hour before Thakhek did arrive just after 430 and in time for a zip line tour.

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    The only noise last night was the water thundering off the falls.


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  15. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
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    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    We set out at 9 for the very straight 13S south to the border in Cambodia in 176 km. We stopped just before to spend our last Kip on gas.

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    We are a bit sad to leave Laos and the people who are soft spoken and very friendly, the riding is fantastic, and the food is good. There is essential no traffic and where there is the drivers are considerate and follow the rules of the road and this includes the scooter riders. When you arrive to the Laos border you pull under the arch and park just beyond it.

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    The first step for exit is to go to the left bank of windows to #2 and hand over your passport, pay 2 USD for an exit stamp (scam? the locals were paying too), and hand in your departure form you filled in on entry. Trevor did challenge him and even asked for a receipt for the stamp fee….no receipt.. no payment…no stamp. We all paid. Too bad he did not pay him with the fake 10US he had received in change from a bartender in Phenom Pen last week.

    You then take your Laos TVIP across the road to the customs window and hand it to the agent. He stood up from his chair behind the window and said “motos?”, looked out the window and saw 4 motos, and said ok you can go.


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  16. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

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    Feb 19, 2011
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    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    You then ride 200 m to the exit gate thru no man’s land. Here there is a welcome to Cambodia sign and another gate.

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    When you pull up the agent in the kiosk will raise the gate for you.


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  17. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    You then ride 100 m to the new looking immigration building and pull under the roof on the right.

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    Here the agents were all aghast that we had out headlights on and all VERY dramatically covered their eye “as if from some bright spotlight”. It is illegal to have headlights on here in the day time. We all said they are always on and we can not turn them off and they did not say anything after that. Despite the internet rumors we were not stopped or ticket for driving in Cambodia with our lights on.

    We were asked to go the first kiosk just to our left and this is quarantine. Here you fill in a health questionnaire and show your passport. They then “take your temperature, but she barely even pointed the thermometer at us.

    You are then directed inside to “room number 2” This is “customs”, but actually it is not as they do not have a customs office here at the border. This is the reason there are so many issues crossing into Cambodia. Some days there is an agent here some not. Some days you can get in some not. We had taken the preemptive strike to get the papers in Phenom Pen. The alternative is to leave the bikes here and one or more of us would have then had to go by bus to get the papers. They were really not sure what to do with us as we clearly had paperwork and permission to bring the bikes into the country, but they had no way to generate the TVIP.


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    There was much discussion and after 45 min they decided we could go to Stung Treng to the customs office, which is 65 km away. We have heard since that an Austrian couple who contacted us for advice on crossing here did not get the papers as we advised and had to park the bikes in No man’s lane and bus it the 450 km to Phenom Pen.

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  18. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,261
    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    We were told we needed to go today to customs and report in , but as it is Oct 31 they say they will not do the TVIP at months end and we will have to go back on Nov 1. OK whatever?! Finally they decided to trust us that we would report to customs.

    We filled in the visa on arrival form, paid 35 $ each, and supplied passport photos…tada Visas. Next you go to immigration for photographing and fingerprinting. The last agent then stamps your passport takes your entry form and staples your exit form into it. All done in just over an hour. The one agent was actually very nice and gave us his phone number. Four of them spent 10 min on google trying to show us where the customs office was in Stung Treng. They seem very apologetic that they could not do the TVIP for us here and that we would need to wait until tomorrow. Since we planned to stay over there anyway it was no big issue for us. Last step is to ride 200 m to the exit gate, which they did not even bother to raise so we had to duck under.



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    Finally in Cambodia!!! We certainly hope Thailand is easier. The first 40 km is a good dirt road with some sections with bad pot holes and a fair amount of dust. The garbage on the ground here is terrible and the economic level obviously much lower even than Laos.


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    The last 25 km are mostly paved and just after we hit the pavement Dan had a flat and we found a large screw in the rear tire. The other guys had been ahead and finally turned back 25 km farther on after a car pulled up to them in town to say your friend have a flat…by the time they showed back up in 30 min where all done and ready to go. Did I mention it is 34 and humid.


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    There are some sketchy sections on the road near town with pot holes and so we slowed it down quite a bit.


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    Trevor had purchased a SIM card last week and so we could use it in town to google map the Customs “office”. This is lucky as with out that and the sign in English we would have thought it was a derelict or abandoned building. There was a few guys with no shirts on in the basement and the “boss” was wandering about fresh from the shower in only a bath towel and was brushing his teeth on the patio when we arrived.


    They had been called from the border agents and were “expecting us”, confirmed that it is a new month tomorrow and they will do the papers then, and we should come back at 830 am. They assured us it would be no problem for us to get the TVIP and ride the 4 hours to Siem Reap. It is only an issue for us as we have a flight the evening after next to Hanoi. The other 2 are staying here 2 nights and then heading in the opposite direction.

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  19. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,261
    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    The hotel we had looked at on line as the best of the choices here is right on the Mekong and 300 m from the Customs building. It is clean and nice and 20$. Their towel decorations are supposed to be temples???!!!


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    This evening we walked over to the center of town and found a huge night market, fair, and stage show. There was an incredible number of sights, sounds, and smells and garbage of course.


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    We had breakfast and then went over to the customs office at 9.


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    Garbage!

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    They had said 830-9, but when we showed up it was locked up. There was a teenager there who called the boss when we arrived and he got on the phone with us and said he would be there in 2 minutes. 20 minutes later he showed up. He said he would do the papers in 30 min. The first issue was they needed to make some calls to sort out what to do, then the internet went off and they needed to re start all the forms, and then the power went off…. no internet again.

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    At 1030 Trevor went inside again and asked if we all needed to stay or could Dan and Sara start off for Siem Reap (a 4 1/2 hour drive). He said no worry as you will only get one form for all 4 bikes, despite the fact that we will not travel together. That said we did leave and eventually they supplied the paper (no VIN numbers and all the plates were listed as Dan’s). The issue here in Cambodia is they have no system or structure in place for the TVIP. They start from scratch with every person. This means they have no idea what to do with us. Luckily we are in the country at all and with the bikes. We have since read that others who got in just did not bother to go to customs and easily got exit passport stamps when leaving and did not report to customs on exit.
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  20. Saralou

    Saralou Worldwide Rider

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,261
    Location:
    July 22, 2012 start RTW from Vancouver, B.C.
    We headed west on the National Highways 352 km to Siem Reap. This is on straight paved roads with very little traffic. This route passes thru many villages and several small towns.


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    We stopped at the half way point in Preah Vihear.


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