Laos on a Lifan...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Steve canyon, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. biggus

    biggus Been here awhile

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    Fantastic trip report Steve. Glad you took the time to show your friends on the big bikes the trail.

    I am looking to get over to Southern Laos in the next few weeks and does some poking around. Maybe run into you on the trail.

    Cheers,
    Jim
    #61
  2. biggus

    biggus Been here awhile

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    #62
  3. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

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    Hey Jim it was a pleasure to ride the trail with the Singapore four, when the called to say there where in Laos and wanted a meet point I was damn happy.......and they really have some balls to give the trail a crack on those monsters. They just got on with and laughed the whole way....:freaky

    I'm heading back to the Ho Chi Minh Trail near the end of the month and plan to stay for a least a month poking around and seeing more war stuff, I found some real old maps of the trails and am going to have a look...will you be coming in Pakse way? I'm all ways up for riding with some one sharing the good stuff is even more fun... A break from riding alone will be most welcome...

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    I'm trying to finish the report so far but had a night out last night in a Little Village in a valley, drunk lots of the home made brew and enjoyed some Laos hospitality which was wonderful I nearly had a tear in my eye at one point when I saw how these people live and how they take care of each other....I have had day after of great things happening, teaching at the school is a privilege.....

    :norton
    #63
  4. biggus

    biggus Been here awhile

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    Will be looking forward to your next installment of the trip report.

    I live over here in Ubon Ratchathani and cross at the Chong Mek/Vang Tao crossing since it is the only land border near. I have not tried my hand with the bridges since I don't like rejection.:cry

    I have sent you a PM.
    #64
  5. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

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    #65
  6. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

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    As I mentioned before i spent the month of January taking my Mum and old lady places, mostly in Laos so I did virtually no riding so as you can Imagine I was itching to get going again. It was nice to see Laos on a different mode of transport, the flight from Phonsavan to Vientiane being the high light for me, the hills in Laos are spectacular from the air I could see all the trails and new I would be coming back to ride them some day, the wife had to leave early and go to Chaing Mai so Mum and eye carried on up to Luang Prabang which Mum fell in Love with, so peaceful.and happy....

    We visited all the museums in VTE but I think Mum enjoyed the Plain of Jars the most, we took half a Bombie through customs each (not live) and laughed at our little caper, got really cold in Phonsavan, endured some terrible coach rides through stunning country and even made to it the Bridge over the River Kwhai....it was great to spend some time with my Mum helped me understand myself a bit better, I'm a chip of the old block and proud of it too. All us riders go of on our journeys with Mum and Dad and Family following us living the trip, so for Mum to see what I see first hand was special and something I could share, wish she rode a bike...:D

    Here a few of my favorites from January.

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    The prediction of things that would fall from the sky I thought.
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    Migs rotting on the runway
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    Craters from 40 years ago...
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    Holidays over and I arrived back in Laos Feb 1st the bike I had prepped before hand and made a smooth passage through customs ant Non Kahi/VTE but told I could only keep the bike there 14 days.....yeah no problem. into VTE for the night and a few people to see the next morning afternoon I set of For Ban Namasnam and the Sainamhai Resort which I arrived at early evening, had dinner and Beers with Vongs and his family and I gave him some money for School uniforms for the village school.

    Next morning it's up real early and I'm heading for Expon and route 9 and as much trail as I can ride before I have to go to Luang Prabang some I'm getting a move on and make it back to Villaburi that evening, it had been a long hard day on fast gravel and then hit the trails but man I felt good. Found some cool stuff but the idea was to get to Xepon to meet up with a local and sort a few things out for the future.

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    Discharged fuel cells made into boats...fantastic idea.

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    Then I got up the road a bit a found an intact one..

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    Blasting down the 1E through the flooded area onto the trail.

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    Back into the little village trails.

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    Then it got harder there was a tree down and the villagers had mad a detour...so i went for a walk first.

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    With a bit of bashing we got through....:D

    and straight into a little river.
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    Really was a good day and I arrived in day light...it had been a great day riding...clean up eat and of to bed as I'm going early again tomorrow.


    Got up feeling sore from yesterday think I over did it a little but hey I'm nearly in Ban Xepon which I soon get to after breakfast spoke to the Local involved and my mission was complete, I have some where to stay and some local information to follow up. So I Decide to ride route 9 to Thaket, which might as well be off road, I thought I was going to be sitting down all day but spent most of standing as the road was so broken up, got the Lifan airborne and bottomed her out good and proper....did see some stuff on the way.

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    Further up the road I spotted some big artillery pieces off the road and went got some pictures, then the Army came running out saying stop no Picture.....I was getting ready to leave when more came and told me show the pictures, then sadly I had to delete them, I acted stupid and said my good byes, damn I should have been quicker...
    #66
  7. RDT953

    RDT953 Been here awhile

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    Thanks for posting reports on these trips, makes for great reading and brings back memories of a trip I made to Laos 4 years ago. Really looking forward to getting back to SE Asia for more bike travels. I looked for but didn't find any mention of the cost of the Lifan.
    Thanks again.
    #67
  8. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

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    Thanks RDT953 I'm glad you sailing down memory lane Laos is a stunning ride...:D

    The Lifan cost me 55,000 Bt $1500.00. I got it in Chaing Mai and am very pleased with it, I have grown attached to her now and with a few changes it would be my bike of Choice for Laos. The power had got better as she has got looser, it's light and nimble which suits my short legs.....

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    Love the Lifan.

    :clap
    #68
  9. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

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    After the Army told me of I went to the UXO center in Dong for a look, nobody was around so I grabbed some pictures and left...

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    Passed some more bombed out bridges, the amount of UXO ornaments along this road is unbelievable, every where you look you see an old casing....

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    I arrived in Thaket and checked into a hotel, I was very tired and tomorrow was another big day, so food and early to bed for me..

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    Next Morning I'm going back to Namsanam for the night before heading up North, so I stop in at the MAG centre to say hello, all very friendly and some of them recognize me from the trials..

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    The Boss.
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    Afterwards it's back on the 1E and I'm going for a poke around near the Dam

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    Great views.
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    Nobody around
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    Except this Dude Andy who's riding the world..
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    Looks a bit spooky here..
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    Then the Dam, I had to park the bike, pity because there was no way i was walking the last k in this heat, what a beautiful area.
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    It's a beautiful ride to the dam, nobody around at all.
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    And finally back to Ban Namsanam.
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    A very tired man today...and tomorrow is a big one up to Phonsavan. wheres my bed.
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    I got up real early, I think this is day 4 on the road and I'm going to try route 10, my GPS is saying no but i'm told it's new tarmac all the way....so of I go..good morning.
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    I got the Video on and it's just bend after bend, up down like a roller coaster
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    Then I run into a rather large ford, check it out and in I go, the water is so strong is pushing me toward the edge of the ford then I get stuck...the bike will not move I think the clutch has just let go....:eek1

    I'm stuck in the middle but spot a couple of workers and ask them to come over and help, we still cant push the bike....then one notices the chain is off, I hook her on push her back and bingo I'm saved, the force of the water must have derailed it.....got it all on video...thanks guys and I'm off again.

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    More great roads.
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    What a ride...
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    What a view
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    I arrived Phonsavan around 4pm booked into a Hotel, went for dinner and once again went to bed early...man I'm tired..:D

    Next morning I'm getting up late and going to the tourist board to get some info and check a few things out, it's cold in Phonsavan, bring a jumper..

    MAG centre.

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    Tourist information.

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    Lots of war scrap

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    Then it's back on the road, yesterday was good but today was mind blowing, the roads are good, the views are brilliant, route 7 to route 13 North, up and down all day, never have I ridden such stunning terrain....

    This picture sums up the day, you can see where yu have just come from.

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    A magical day

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    I arrived in Luang Prabang exhausted, 1800k's had left me knackered, the Lifan was in need of some love. I was in LP to do some Teaching at the LEOT center....first I would rest though.

    What a week.....:D, I feel like I could ride forever..:D
    #69
  10. gavo

    gavo Slacker

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    Then it's back on the road, yesterday was good but today was mind blowing, the roads are good, the views are brilliant, route 7 to route 13 North, up and down all day, never have I ridden such stunning terrain....

    Route 7 is terrific especially around Nam Chat, be a blast on a motard and the views, well you just have to see it live.
    Only did 13 from Xiang Ngeun noth to Luang Prabang but I didn't find a road I didn't enjoy:lol3
    #70
  11. RDT953

    RDT953 Been here awhile

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    I'm itching to go back right now. Hey thanks for the info on the purchase price.I think it's a bit difficult to buy a bike in Thailand on just a tourist visa, but from another report on this forum it seems that a valid entry stamp and tourist visa is all that's required in Malaysia.
    I was considering taking my little Honda from here in Australia via Timor and Indonesia, might have to rethink that now.
    Can I PM you to get more information on the volunteer work, I'm on the cusp of retirement and looking for something meaningful to do.
    #71
  12. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

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    Hey Gavo...in a few years time Laos will be a sports bike paradise...Imagine doing that on a 748....:rofl

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    This one...if somebody can find it, some B#%%^ nicked it..
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    Thanks RDT, jump on a plane I got spare Lifan in Chaing Mai you can use.....there are ways of buying your own bike in Thailand, much easier than importing I think and a whole lot cheaper......PM me.

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    As for volunteer work I can hook you up with some good people doing some really good stuff. When I set out on this ride I always wanted to help somebody out, my travels I have found many, but 2 really leap out at me LEOT and a school project I am working on with a local Laos man down south to provide school uniforms and educational equipment.

    I have been keeping quiet about the good causes but it will aired when we are finished putting it together.

    Every little bit help out here 5 bucks can make somebody day a whole lot brighter, a little aid box like the one below can make a whole school happy..

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    Look forward to talking more with you...Bye for now..

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    :norton
    #72
  13. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

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    Never have I seen such spectacular landscapes.

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    After my teaching spell at Leot I was ready for some riding, I was hard to leave Luang Prabang as I made so many new friends and really enjoyed teaching there, a big thanks to Alan and the Leot team for making me feel so welcome. The Children just want to learn it's inspirational.

    I decided to take the off road route to Phonsavan which became a bit of a dash as I dropped in on some friends to say goodbye, it was a day of river crossings, wet feet and wobbly boats along with savvy Children trying to exploit the stranded farang.

    The House I stayed in last weekend was torn apart for for an extension to be built for the new baby, the whole village was there lending a hand, the ladies laid on the food whilst the men done the construction, it was like clock work everybody knew their place.

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    Extension going up.


    I said my goodbyes and headed up to see HP2 and say good bye to him, then I headed for the hills.

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    Fast graded roads.


    It was about 150ks with lots of rivers, fast gravel and bone shaking wash board mud and heaps of dust, with my late departure it became a race against time as I did not want to ride at night.

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    Check out the trail.


    But the views are stunning so I find myself stopping a lot to take it in...

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    Wow.
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    Little villages in the valleys.

    Then the rivers started, I could not cross it was to deep, but a little further upstream where some boats manned by Children, we basically dragged the bike on board an set of across the river the boat was wobbling and I thought we were going in so I closed my eyes and put my head on the handlebars and prayed we would make it.....we did, the the little people wanted 500,000 kip for their trouble I got them down to 50,000 which is a good for 15 minutes work, meanwhile I was left exhausted from the bike dragging in that heat, no pictures for a while as its river after river crossing, some long some deep all slippery and I hate having wet feet.

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    River crossing.


    Then I get to a section that's being upgraded and have to wait whilst the plant operators make me a ramp.
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    these boys work these like their hands.

    Cleared that then I get this section.....man I tired.
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    Not easy riding.

    This turning out to be a hard day for me, but then it just all opens up...flat ground in great big valley.
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    One minute in the hills the next open spaces.

    I pass an old Air America site, it's beautiful up here and the road is fast...
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    Control tower.


    So it's flat out here and I'm not thinking about my wet feet anymore.
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    Great place for an airfield.

    I'm not slowing down for anything and the Lifan is taking a real pounding.
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    Army bridge.

    It's a great spot up here and something catches my eye of to the left...Horses , first one I have seen since I arrived.

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    Horses??

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    Yes it's a Horse


    Back onto the Tarmac and Phonsavan is close, the war scrap is everywhere.
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    Russian Tank?

    I arrive in Phonsavan just as it gets dark and once again it's bloody cold, I find a little guest house for 50,000 kip a night, eat the food joy had prepared me that morning, drunk an energy milkshake and fell asleep in my riding gear......boots where left outside along with the socks.

    That was one hard day and tomorrow was going into the unknown with an early start. sweet dreams.
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    Right through the middle.

    I checked the bike in the morning and every spoke was loose, the wheel had been hitting the swing arm....:eek1
    #73
  14. enfielddnepr

    enfielddnepr Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Assen, Netherlands
    Love your report, the sportiness of doing it on a local(/) chinese bike.
    I like your interaction with the people but there's one thing that refrains me from going to Laos and adjacent countries, and that is the well known cruelty to animals, skinning and cooking them alive, hanging dogs very slowly, frying cats alive etc.
    This is often done at a roadside.
    Did you encounter such a thing and how do you cope with it?
    #74
  15. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

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    Thanks enfielddnepr I'm glad your enjoying the report...:D

    As for the way animals can be treated out here I saw nothing apart from some bush meat for sale on the side of the road, the occasional pig slaughterer for festivals, I'm not a big fan of killing things inhumanely but these people need to eat something as they are poor, usually bush meat shot with rifles.

    I think you would be Ok in Laos, China and Vietnam would be different I'm sure...I have no intentions of visiting either...

    Come to Laos.....:D

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    #75
  16. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

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    Sorry Guys i forgot this one, I did it whilst in Luang Prabang


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    Sign is facing the wrong way...

    Myself and HP2 set of from Leot School about 12 noon and headed out to his Village, Myself and Mr Alan had put an aid parcel together, exercise books, pens, pencils and other learning things as well as some medicines and some toys all bound for the school he works at.

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    Much needed things.

    The Lifan was loaded to the hilt, 2 up she behaved well and got the job done.

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    The donkey.

    It was only about 50ks most of it of road but no real problem just a lot of dust, we arrived about 1.30 and the drinking started...

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    Fresh batch of Moonshine.


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    Got to try it and I liked it

    We had some food and found out that the School caretaker was not about so we would have to take the stuff bound for school on Monday, no problem so we set of for the cave of Teeth.

    It's a nice ride up here, with some great views and soon we reached the place and waited for the man with the keys. Mr Alan had been up here a few weeks ago and told me of the place along with the stories. It was used as an air raid shelter in the War and after that they say it was used as a prison by that Pathet Loa to detain helpers of the Americans??, I don't know but there are thousands of Teeth in there some look human other are animal.....but why somebody would put them in cases?

    First up you got to cross the bridge and walk the meadow to the cave...

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    The bridge with our guide and hp.

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    HP

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    Nice bridge hold on tight.

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    It sways a bit.


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    Off goes our guide.

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    It's a beautiful spot.

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    The meadow.

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    Trail up to the Cave

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    The Jailer.

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    Inside the cave of Teeth.


    The climb up is steep and hot but when you get in the cave it's even hotter, I was having problems trying to take pictures but I managed a few, the cabinets you see are full of teeth and Bone...

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    WOW

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    There is Teeth in there.

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    Cabinets of Teeth.

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    Lots of Teeth

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    And More.


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    Many questions to be answered.


    There are many passages and tunnels, a caver needs to come here and check it all out, I didn't really enjoy being in there as I didn't want to get lost in the labyrinth of tunnels.

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    Spooky


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    Never know what you will find if you look.


    Time for a scratch around on the floor to see what we can fine, I found what looks like and old webbing clip, very old and rusty and they guide said I could keep it so I will get it cleaned up and Mr Alan is going to get some proofing work done on some of the teeth to learn more about it, interesting stuff indeed there is no information on this cave apart from what your told....somebody knows!.

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    Webbing strap?

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    Any ideas welcome.

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    HP checking the Teeth.

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    These looked Human.


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    More Cabinets.

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    Out alive.


    There are 2 cave entrances and cabinets in both...time to make our way back down.

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    My friend.

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    My guide.

    On the way back we stopped and said hello to the villagers who where preparing the paddy fields. That's hard work in this heat...

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    Paddy field.


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    Happy locals who where keen to talk to me.

    Then it back across the bridge and of to see where Mr H lives...

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    Watch your step.

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    Fantastic.


    A quick ride to the next village and welcome to Hp's home..

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    Home is where the Heart is right?

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    He welcomed me in.

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    The Kitchen.


    This guy lives here and teaches at the school as part of his training, he receives no money for his toil, but still he smiles...as do all the children.

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    Happy sister.

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    So happy.

    These people live simple lives and are a joy to be around, we head back to his family house stopping to buy fish for supper. Hp is making BBQ fish.

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    Getting the fish

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    Dinner.


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    Shop owner.

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    She wants to see the pictures.

    We head back to House get the BBQ going with a few beers and this is where I start to have a few moments of reflection on my life, I have Money, family, gadgets,love but I'm wondering who's the lucky one!.

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    Get cooking H.

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    I helped by drinking.

    Hp is busy prepping the fish with Bamboo skewers each done with precision and care, so I'm left alone with my thoughts. There are people coming over to shower at the communal wash room this makes me a little uncomfortable at first I don't know where to look when the ladies start stripping off, so I position myself so I cant see, I don't think they even saw me, other elders came over looked at me and the bike and just walked on by....

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    Haven't done this for a long time.

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    Lady from the shop bringing cold beer over.

    Darkness is falling and we are chatting away and then HP starts to sing, sounds a little sad and pulls on my Heart strings a little, once again I'm thinking who's the lucky one?, this boy has nothing but is full of life and committed to getting a good job to support his family, he tells me the whole story and Jesus I got a tear in my eye, he is smiling all the time....an inspiration.

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    HP happy as ever.

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    Dusk is coming.

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    Ahan sep Lie.

    I had not felt this free for a long time and was humbled by the whole experience, such great people and his family were so well mannered it took me back...his brother spoke great English and we enjoyed the beer Laos, you know these people don't seem to dream of better but rather be happy with what they have!.

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    Our home for the night.


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    More fish more beer.

    Eventually we all went inside and eat& drunk until late in the evening, I had a great time and those memories will stay with me forever, and I'm happy to share them with you. We all slept on the floor of the little house and I slept well.....thank you HP2 and your family....still cant work out who's the lucky one, me or them!

    In the morning we were woken by the animals, it was like the animals where all saying good morning to each other, the village was alive and it was time to get up...

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    Good Morning.

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    HP's Sister in Law

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    Grandmother.


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    Brother.

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    Me having a go.

    We said our goodbyes and headed back to Luang Prabang where I met his sister who supports HP schooling.....a beautiful lady who lives to help her family....

    So who is the lucky one, us with our money and nice houses etc, or HP and his family who all look out and care for one and other, share everything and smile all the time....

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    Bopen yang.(your welcome)
    #76
  17. biggus

    biggus Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    379
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    Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
    Looking forward to riding the Northern Section with you next season Mate!
    #77
  18. team ftb

    team ftb Befuddled Adventurer

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    Wohoooooo!!! Chris mate you look like you're enjoying yourself. Good on you. Its Justin (bigntall) from the Thailand motor biking websites, hello:clap. Have not seen you for more than 7 months it seems. Loving the report and bringing back some fond memories of trips in Lao. I know the town names your passing but not your routes. I do recognize some of the tracks, and that great river crossing outside Vilabouri you had fun with. I'm bored shitless in the states now ready for some more surgery on my arm and wanna travel along with you vicariously. Did you say there was a GPS track of your travels somewhere?

    Biggus I thought you and Chris were riding together already? Ready for some more updates on the RR:D. And lets get another trip under our belts Biggus.

    Will you be over there for rainy season Chris?

    Can't wait for more.
    #78
  19. Mcgee

    Mcgee Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2011
    Oddometer:
    538
    Location:
    Pacific NW
    Great RR. The land is beautiful and the people too. A few years ago I was in Louangpharbang. Took a bus ride I believe East up in the the mountains. Rented a small motor bike and went even further into the mountains where there were small villages. Found some caves like the one's you have shown, only this one was a hospital during the war. What great scenery. The people are very friendly and I was surprised how much a small woman could carry on her back! Thanks again for the great pic's and the memories.
    #79
  20. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    London
    Yo Biggus, it was great riding the south with over March, I'm down in Koh Chang to catch up with the report....it was an epic ride mate...one the hardest I've had the pleasure of undertaking, having some one to share those moments with is what it's all about.....As for the North I have got some great leads to follow up be great to ride again...

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    Hey Justin nice to hear from you, hope them injuries are getting better mate would have been nice to see you in Laos....Biggus and I just got back from near on month...report is coming up but I got a lot of catching up to do :1drink

    Tracks and trails I'm happy to share dude, I can email you them. We found some great new trails....report soon.

    Don't think I will be hanging around in the rainy season, but come November the Steve Canyon project will be back in action...:D

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    Thanks Mcgee :norton There is some great things to do up Luang Prabang, plus it's a really great place to chill for a day or 2, I'm looking forward to getting back up there and the cave systems are still on that over growing list...:clap

    Their a strong race, especially the women ....:D

    Glad your enjoying the ride...

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    :lol3
    #80