Laos on a Lifan...

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

  1. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    London
    LS36 (Lima Site)was and American Airbase in the Secret war in Laos...

    You may have already guessed but I have a fascination with the Vietnam war, although until a few years back I had never heard of the Secret War in Laos I knew a bit about the War in Vietnam, my curiosity has turned into a passion and being able to visit these famous places is priceless, to read about them is one thing, to visit them is another.

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    How it looked back in the day (photo Talkingproud)





    So after a pretty hard day the day before I wake up still in my body Armour brush my teeth, quick coffee and I'm off, 130k's of I don't know what lay in front of me. Stock up on food and water and it's a slow start as it's bloody cold, the Lifan seems to be moving around a lot but I put it down to the worn Knobbly Tyre...first find of the day..

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    Booster from a Sam Missile

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    Guess that's Russia


    The first part of the ride is nice, great views and graded roads...

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    Stunning

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    So many different landscapes in Laos

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    That's the way we are going

    The wide open spaces soon give way to Jungle tracks and soon enough there's a river with a brand new bridge which I pay 20,000 kip to cross, no wet feet and I'm asked to sign the bridge and Invited in for dinner.

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    No wet feet.

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    Pay or get wet.

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    First Farang he told me.

    Dinner looks a little scary so I have a drink and then set of again, the trail gets harder and harder, deep ruts and sheer drops winding up and down through the valleys, lots of flowers up here.

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    What sort of flower is this.

    Some of the open sections where really nice to ride but it was always back into the jungle.

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    Great riding.



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    Beautiful.

    I keep pressing on and then 5ks from where I'm going a sign

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    You have to ride 120 k's to see this sign.

    The last part of the trail was nasty which always seems the way in Laos, I cant imagine trying to walk here, some of the log bridges where wheel eaters so it was full gas over them and hope for the best.

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    Great track


    And finally after 4 hrs I'm here, beautiful sign....128ks of standing up....my legs hurt.


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    Getting ready for the tourists.


    This is the site that greeted me after passing through the village of Ban Nakhang.

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    The entrance is gated.


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    LS36 is in there.


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    Another stunning area.


    Not much to see for 4 hrs riding so I go for a poke around and things start coming together.

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    Fuel tanks.

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    Not much good now.

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    Guidance

    Ok so I have my bearings I'm the little arrow head and the black strip is the run way...lets go have a look.

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    Left behind equipment.



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    40 years on



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    Grader.


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    How did that end up this way up?

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    Reelects of war.



    Then it's onto the runway...dead ahead

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    Compass bearings.


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    Run way.


    Looking at it from the other end.

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    Compass bearings.

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    Run Way

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    Looking down the runway.

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    By this time it was nearly 2pm so I went of to have a look around the village which has used all the old scrap fuel drums as fencing.

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    Barrel fencing.

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    Nothing goes to waste.

    More war scrap.

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    Great condition after 40 years


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    Bombie casing

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    Locals working away on their weaving machines.

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    Lots of signs in this Ban



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    A simple life.

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    The way out.

    No it's time to head back, I know what to expect so I'm not hanging around.

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    Lets go.

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    The bike looks so small in this landscape.


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    Stunning Laos.


    I rode home as fast as I could not wanting to ride at night and had a rare delight of the sun behind me and the moon in front, sounds like and old Irish blessing.

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    Sun and Moon.


    I spotted a Bombie casing on the back of this cart, 4 decades later they are still digging them up.
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    Scrap metal hunters.

    It was a tough 250ks, my plan was to head north tomorrow, but biggus reminded me that February only has 28 day...shit I'm heading south tomorrow instead......:D

    Read more about Ls36 here..

    http://talkingproud.us/
    #81
  2. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    London
    After riding up to Ls36 I headed back to Vientiane, crossed back over into Thailand and hired a scooter to go back home, it's getting to hot to fanny around at custom's and the Lifan is tucked away in a Hotel having a rest, 3 days later I'm back in VTE and preparing to meet Biggus an inmate on adv.(Jim)

    My plan for march was just ride as much Ho Chi Minh trail as I can and visit all the places of interest to me that I had been researching such as target Oscar 8 and Jim was up for it, the plan was hatched and we met on the 6th of March in Thakhet.

    I had been there for a couple of days and met German dude called DC who rents bikes,turns out he rode across the Sahara on BMW650gs..:clap

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    We all went for dinner and beers and DC marveled at Jim's KTM:freaky it has a winch:huh

    Suspension cost more than the Lifan!:lol3 well prepped machine..

    The morning of the 7th we hit the road up to a small section of Ho Chi Minh Trail and then onto Mu Gui pass, it was dusty as hell. Meet Jim

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    Don't think this will be here much longer


    We even managed an ice cream of a Vietnamese seller, nice touch on the trail.
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    Sign of the times


    There was a lot of fires, villagers clearing land for crops I think.

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    Slash and Burn.

    It's an easy ride to what is was last time, the steep section had been flattened out and now it's mostly wide enough for cars, more signs that the trail is disappearing.

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    Craters.

    On the way we met up with a MAG team so we stopped and talked to them.

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    Hot work.

    Coming in from the Fields.
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    The lady was the Medic, good English.

    A days work.
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    Cleaning equipment before putting it away.
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    We then pressed on up to the Mu Gui which we would use as our start point, this was a very important crossing for the Vietnamese army in the war, crossing from Vietnam into Laos and then down onto the trails.


    The border
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    A very small Jim.
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    Stunning
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    Great ride up to the top.
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    We headed back down to find a Hotel and change Jim's rear Tyre find some food and go over the plans for the next day, which would see us tackle a great piece of trail and some wet feet would be a big part of the day, Jim spoke great Thai which helped a lot he would interpret and I would guide.... the team was formed.


    Can you do this.
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    The next Morning (8/3/13) we hit the road by 8am and our destination was Villabouri, it was not long before before we hit the Xe Bangfai Ford.


    Stunning.
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    I didn't hang about and jumped straight in, made it across with only one wet boot, Jim was next with no problems, the day was looking good.


    Great view point.
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    New bridge is coming.
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    We pressed on until about Lunch time then took a stop at a little place which was full of ladies.:clap:clap good find..

    Grand Mother.
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    Mother
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    Big Sister
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    Little sister.
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    Jim
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    Chris
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    Time to get on the trails and get to our destination.

    Another home made bridge.
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    Half a bridge.
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    The locals came out to see us here, after this crossing we would go into some nice single track jungle trails, very hot.


    Quick come and see this.
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    Happy to see us.
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    From outer space
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    Big smiles, it's great to these people who are always gobsmacked, especially when you have a monster trail bike...
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    Back to the trails.


    Not much traffic. There is a new road being built to miss all this out.

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    The KTM hiding behind the lifan
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    Nice riding.
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    Break in the shade.

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    Then it's back onto the graded section up to Villabouri where we find some rather young and old scrap metal hunters.

    A dangerous profession.
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    Our destination reached with no problems, a great day riding. lots of work going on up here on the roads, bridges are being built and access improved. Rice and eggs for dinner and an early night as tomorrow we are going back to Ban Laboy.

    9th March Villabouri to Ban Kari Pass Via laboy:

    Early start today this was a hard ride last time I rode it, so we left all the stuff we did not need in the guest house and set of with what we needed, it got hard straight away into deep ruts and hanging vines.
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    Vines pulled me of the bike.
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    Then the trail opened up into a wide dusty section which was having electrical poles put up, really dusty and hard to navigate, when we reached the first Ban we had to stop and take a rest, the Ban was quiet interesting and the people curious, lots of war scrap.


    No wet feet yet.
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    Craters.
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    A very hot Jim with happy locals.
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    Bombie Casings
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    Tombstones
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    Flower pots
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    Nice work.
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    [​IMG]Its everywhere.

    The cafe.
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    Cotton machine, gears cut in wood..nice.
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    So many casings.
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    We pressed onto the ford and hard section, which to my relief had been flattened by the heavy plant, the trip up to Ban Laboy is now smooth and fast, even came across a stuck in the mud people carrier.

    Stuck fast.
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    Then it's up to the view point, last time I was here I was exhausted...
    Easy this time
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    Little Jim
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    Stunning Views
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    Time to get to the ford and a big surprise, a new view point of the Famous Ban Laboy Ford.
    WOW
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    I'm happy.
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    Ban Laboy Ford March 2013
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    Electricity is coming to town, the workers are camped across the ford, first part of the ford is deep. 30 inches deeper than the air inlet on the Lifan, of course i didn't know that and dived straight in after watching a local cross, once again only 1 wet boot, fantastic.

    <iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="640" height="360" src="http://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/2495965519_dCsdfW9?width=640&height=360&albumId=28593616&albumKey=Fhmj5n"></iframe>

    Me across the other side.
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    Jim getting into the deep part. Don't know how the Lifan, the water was above the air box intake, some 30 inches...god bless her :rofl

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    Both safely across and we head for the village of Ban Laboy, both of us felt unwelcome here, people did not want to talk to us, or sell us drinking water so we just went ahead and had a look around, war scrap everywhere.


    Hello...:D
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    War scrap
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    Lots of it.
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    Forces at work here
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    Big Bomb.
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    Enough of this and we head for the Ban Kari pass toward Vietnam and the famous cobble stones which are still in great condition after 40 years, I could picture the scene all these years ago, what a place what a sense of history, thousands of NVA people and trucks had passed down this route on their way to south Vietnam and the war.


    Cobblestones, this was a special moment for me, so much history here, I'm proud to have followed my dreams of visiting these places...:D

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    See the A at the top of the map, we are about an inch to the right.
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    Ho Chi Minh Trail Network
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    Guess it looked a bit like this back in the day.
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    On the way to war.
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    Once again we did not feel welcome up here and were ignored we both had video running so there will be more to see, ladies walking around topless smoking pipes, lots of scrap metal and long stares from the locals, so we pressed onto the pass, we got stopped at the buffer zone by the local policeman who told us we could go no further, he spoke great English and made us most welcome. One of the girls burst into tears when we arrived I think she was scared of us.


    police station
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    Local ladies making a run for it.
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    Great Views
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    Beautiful
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    She had to come back for here phone. Scared....
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    Friendly police man.
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    After a cool down we declined his invitation to stay and headed back to the ford to cross and find a camp for the night, lots of burning going on, Jim had to go back for his knee pads whilst i shot more video.


    Slash and burn.
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    Harleys valley, named after a shot down american pilot
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    The other angle..
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    great views
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    We arrived back at the ford about 4pm, filled our camels packs and went looking for a camp site for the night.

    Ban Laboy drinking water.
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    A water filter is a must. we could buy no water up here, man it was back in time with topless women smoking, children running around naked....

    Finding camp sites is easy in Laos, we found this little place and set up camp.
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    Bike parking
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    Ready to eat and Jim had loads..
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    We collected fire wood and made ourselves some food, the spicy tuna was a bit much for me, and it got damn cold at night, Jim was very well prepared with a blanket and down lining, me I froze in my emergency blanket getting up many times in the night to warm myself on the fire.


    Jim cutting wood.
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    All in all it was a good night, the stars were bright and spirits high, it had been a fantastic day covering some hallowed ground in Laos. the fire provided the mental strength:rofl...

    10th March Ban Laboy to Villabouri

    We popped back to the Ford and refilled our water packs then headed back stopping at the view point one more time.


    Early morning haze... beautiful.

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    Then back to what I call the bomb village, there are bombs every where, nothing has moved in the last 2 years, so we go for a poke around to see what else we can find.


    Big Bombs
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    Manufacturer.
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    Opened like a can
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    Bigger Bombs
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    Everywhere
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    Larger still
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    Forgotten
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    Just laying around.
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    Bombie Casing
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    Guess you can see why I call it the Bomb Village, then we find a jem..


    Jim ready for war.
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    Make my day
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    An old belt fed machine gun, not in bad nick considering it's been laying around for 40 years.

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    Deadly I'm sure
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    Wooden parts missing.
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    Looks in good condition
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    Looks like this one
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    Dong Museum Exhibit.
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    Views from the Village..

    Nice rock formation
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    Sleepy Village
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    Back on the trails and we find another scrap metal hunter following the heavy plant as it grades the road, this guy was from Vietnam.

    The most dangerous job in the world.
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    We arrived back in Villabouri and took the rest of the day of and made preparations for the next few days, a welcome rest after a restless night..

    I had forgotten to mention the 3 crazy Farangs on Honda Waves heading up to Laboy, t shirts and flip flops, we passed them on the way up and then saw them again as we left Ban Kari down to Ban Laboy, there plan was to sleep in the Heads mans House, one of them was Laos/American so he talked the language and could arrange things, we got some great video of them crossing the ford.....well they never found a place to stay and passed us our campsite bound for Villabouri....they would go on to make their location by 10pm, soaking wet cold and Hungry....

    :clap

    March 11th Villabouri to Ban Dong

    Today would be a short one with some sight seeing at Dong Museum and quick dash up to the Vietnam border on the infamous route 9 and it's battles which the Museum shows a lot of in the newly opened inside...I think they have made a nice job of the whole site and have been there 3 times now to see the transformation , bikes parked inside the gates and our Lady Guide Ms Gai....Beautiful Lady.

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    Comrades.
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    The Entrance to Dong Museum.
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    Nice job.
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    Inside there are 100's pictures, paintings and Exhibits and I photographed as many as I could whilst Jim made video, interesting place to visit and only 10,000 kip each.



    lots of great photos in here.
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    Old Maps
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    Listening device dropped by the Americans to monitor traffic down the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

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    Mobile phone.
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    President Kalsone Phomvhane and Ho Chi Minh sharing a joke in 1966! it's said that Ho Chi used 100's of different names he certainly is an int resting person and I was surprised to find his name hanging opposite Trafalgar square were he worked as a baker . The president look s a little at ease, wonder what the joke was about about...

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    Lots of new toys out the back as well.
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    Imagine the damage this thing done....
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    We also went back to the Wat for a quick look, found more craters, biggest than last time...huge


    Biggest I've seen
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    Bikes and temples seem to complement each other..
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    Jim and the Guide.
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    The Lifan looks good behind the big Monster..
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    :clap

    The Battery gods I think.
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    Nature and man.
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    More craters.
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    Battle scars
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    We even popped up to the Border for a quick look, then back to our guest house find some food, rice and eggs again, met some rather mental Vietnamese ladies of the night, met some guys from the forestry works who told us the owner of the house we were in had lots of war scrap hidden away, but we would have to come back another day, next time....

    Jim signed up on the spot..
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    Forestry workers the guy on the left spoke great English..
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    ....Then we met up with some truck drivers who were eating and drinking, I tried the Laos Kow and fresh Honey, man I threw up it's like fuel.....I would suffer tomorrow...great night.:clap:clap


    I don't drink, give Chris the Lao Kaw...cheers
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    Welcome.
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    Chinese, Vietnamese,Laos...nice folk.
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    A great day indeed, tomorrow we ride the Bamboo bridge on the trail to Ta Oi, this is nasty trail as Umar found out on the big GS.......

    March 12th.Ban Dong to Ta Oi...great days riding


    We are doing well on our effort to get on as much trail as possible.

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    We still have a long way to go but the riding is great.(talking proud pic)
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    really enjoy this section of trail. it has everything, single track, rivers, gradients mud sand and cobblestones.

    Chris don't feel so good today, self inflicted as the Hotel owner wishes us luck.
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    First problem today and the big KTM has a flat battery, where's the recovery vehicle...easy fix jump it from the Lifan with a bodged usb cable..

    After some breakfast we hit the trail and its cold and wet, should make it even harder.

    Old Russian Bridge
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    Chok dee
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    Nice View
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    Misty morning
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    Back past the cobble stretch and we meet this young lady 16 years old and 2 children already...

    Very young...
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    Breakfast for the Children
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    I was here 2 years ago, nothing has changed
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    Great ride down to the Bamboo bridge, I marvel at this every time


    Love it
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    Incredible work.
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    Jim coming down the ramp
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    Talk to everyone.
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    Sabadee

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    Happy Chap
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    Stunning piece of work
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    Beautiful morning
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    Welcoming committee.
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    Very friendly.
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    all looking at the big KTM in ore.

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    Back on the trail and it's riding time and this trail is brilliant.


    Cobbles
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    Prehistoric toys that the children abandoned when they see us coming.
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    Little Bans with great views.
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    This is out of place, concrete wall with writing on in the middle of no where, reputedly and old ammo dump and the writing rings a bell, not sure if I'm right but the Ho Chi Minh Trail was called the "Tr&#432;&#7901;ng S&#417;n trail" this word Truong seems present on this wall, but would they mark is so obvious...whats the story I wonder..



    Any idea what it says?
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    What a ride
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    More De miners and some village folk
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    And another
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    Old and new bridge, we took the old one..loose boards everywhere.
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    And into Ta Oi, the big KTM is making light work of this trail, lots of grip. We have all of the day on Video and this is one great ride, time to free the mind and concentrate on whats coming up, plenty of challenges a great day riding. We would stay in Ta oi the night, not much going on here, rice and eggs again and no hot shower.....damn. Fatigue is setting in a bit but and there are some sore muscles and some new ones for me, the harder the better I say keeps you focused... .Jim and I are getting on fine and a smooth little system is in place so we don't loose each other at any point..
    #82
  3. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    London
    It was at this point I remember I have a tablet so I can do this all day by day, the first few days are all above.....:D

    Today would be another great day on the trails, we wanted to ride to Ban Lahap which links up old route 922 with route 92, Ban Lahap was just north of the junction and lead onto Target Oscar 8 which turns out to be an interesting story, this was a very important point on the trail as it was the headquarters of the 559th transport regiment of the NVA the guys who were responsible for the road building program, security and Logistics, the point were to two roads met was a choke point and a real point of interest for the bombing campaign.

    Turns out that a Commanding General Vo Nguyen Giap was there so the Americans hatched the Plan to go in and either catch or kill the General and kill any other forces in encountered.

    Myself and Jim are heading up route 922, it's a very small trail with many obstacles and lots of single track stuff, the morning had started with a river crossing over a make shift bridge.
    Nasty little bridge.
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    Soon we hit a major problem in the shape of a fallen tree, we looked for another route around but could not find any way of getting the bikes through.


    No way past.
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    Jim camouflaged.
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    Hard work looking through it for a route
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    Back we go to hook up with route 92..there are craters every where round here.


    Dense Forrest
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    Look before you leap
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    Past Ban Lahap and onto a single trail up to Oscar 8, craters everywhere huge ones, as we get up the trail we get stopped by a local who does not want us to go any further...stop go back....I could see another couple of guys further up in the bushes and obeyed his wishes and turned back, wonder what they were up to, the whole valley was on fire as they burnt it down...hope there was no UXO there....

    The reason for all the craters was the B52's had softened the target up before the planned raid went ahead which out much success it would seem, the NVA had the place well covered and put up a fierce fight....I don't think they got there man.

    Another great day trail riding as we ended up in Saravan in a nice Hotel, wondering why they stopped us, I will be going back for a look some time, lots of video again.


    Nice.
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    Jim washing his bike.
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    Another Beautiful day...:D
    #83
  4. RDT953

    RDT953 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2011
    Oddometer:
    288
    Location:
    Kobe Japan
    Thanks Steve, your words and pics bring back the memories of this very same trail I did with a mate a couple of years back. From my understanding the Bamboo Bridge is pulled down for the flood season and reconstructed when the water goes down. Like you say it's a brilliant piece of local civil engineering.
    Still hoping to get back to that part of the world later this year. I'll be in contact.
    :clap:clap:clap
    #84
  5. gavo

    gavo Slacker

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,212
    Location:
    Gympie QLD
    Thanks for the update Chris still really enjoying the read and pic's , Gavin
    #85
  6. Brian_BKK

    Brian_BKK Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    34
    Epic reporting..

    I was going to bed an hour ago.. but stayed up reading this report..

    Great stuff.. keep it coming.

    Cheers
    Brian
    #86
  7. team ftb

    team ftb Befuddled Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,916
    Location:
    Lost in the jungles of Thailand
    Chris I'm loving the report. You're providing good therapy for the injured:clap. Did you guys do a really fun section that went from Saravan to Phin? With about 80 KM's of fun singletrack/atv width stuff going up and down into washes and gullies with rock ledges etc? It's sooo much fun on a small bike but wrestling Jim's 990 through would be some work? Though I've seen Jim wrestle that thing through some amazing stuff before:eek1.

    Hope you've found a relaxing spot on Koh Chang to rest yer bones. What month will you be flying back home? Doc says he wants me in the states for another few weeks to monitor the arm but once I get the release I'll be flying back, maybe we can cross paths before you're departure?
    #87
  8. stan.riner

    stan.riner Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    149
    Location:
    Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam
    Enjoying the read. My wife and I are moving to Vietnam for work and I would like to ride some of the neighboring countries. I'm impressed at how tough you guys are. Thanks for putting all of the effort in to post everything and tell the stories that go along with what you're seeing.

    Stan from Hawaii.
    #88
  9. alrikki

    alrikki n00b

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    1
    Hi Chris, alex from UK here, good to see ya in VTE
    u back home now? where is Jim?
    #89
  10. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    London
    Glad your enjoying it...:D

    I wondered about that bridge, must be a big job to take down, even more so putting it up, I would imagine it will all be gone in a few years...

    Road upgrades are moving pretty fast now....:eek1

    Hey Gavo, remember the bridge outside LP? the Bamboo one, it was gone in late Feb, they had a lot of big plant there I think they were making a ford?, glad you still along for the ride...:D

    Thanks Brian, we can sleep when we are dead...:rofl

    Ride on :D
    #90
  11. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    London
    Saravan to Phin was epic, hot and hard. I would like to spend a few weeks around that area it's beautiful and the trails are endless. Jim done some major wrestling on that trail....cant wait to go back.:clap

    I went down to Koh Pangyang after a few days in Koh Chang, didn't really like it to much. Pangyang is great , not like I remember it 15 years ago, it's a great location for resting them bones......I'm afraid I'm already back in the UK and it's bloody cold.....:eek1

    Will be back in while and look forward to going riding with you...Check you Pms dude...:lol3



    Thank you for your kind words sir makes the effort a pleasure...:clap

    I can tell you the pain from the toughness is still in my body :rofl

    But I will keep doing what I enjoy, perhaps as you will be in the right part of the world we can go riding at some point :D

    Hey Alex....

    Yes It was good to see you and meet CRS...

    I read your report it sounds like you found a good way back :clap

    Looking forward to hooking up later in the year and doing some single track with you.....:lol3

    Know I have to finish this report.......soon.

    Thanks again guys it's nice to get some encouragement and good wishes..
    :clap:clap
    #91
  12. biggus

    biggus Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2007
    Oddometer:
    379
    Location:
    Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
    Here is a link to my buddies 10,000 kilometer trip around Laos on a Chinese made Lifan ($1,500 or less) for a cause. I had the pleasure of meeting up with him in March and riding together for almost 1 month. What an experience we had together!. If you are only interested in KTM Porn then skip to page 6 where I enter the scene, a few deep river pics on page 5 though.

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=838990
    #92
  13. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    London
    Yo Jim, the trusty Lifan hit 10K on the way down south near Attapue I think....she managed another 2.7K before I left Laos....:D

    [​IMG]

    I was more worn out then the bike...:clap
    #93
  14. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    London
    At this point if fair to say we are both feeling the pace but excited that we where chipping away at the goal...Cambodia, we started of sore but within 10 minutes of leaving a big river to cross and wet feet of the bat so we wait for a local to cross so we can see what's the best way, a truck turns up and we watch him then we go, that's all on video, then we get straight into the second crossing, Jim's to heavy for the bridge so he gets the wet crossing whilst the light weight Lifan uses the bridge...

    [​IMG]



    Safely on the other side we get going and bang another... I get to use the bridge but Jim's bike is to heavy,.this is going to be a hell of a day and the next few would roll into one, safely across river 2 and the whole place just opens up into a forest ....wow

    [​IMG]
    Fantastic riding.

    [​IMG]
    Nasty little bridges .

    We stopped at a little place to get some food and drinks, the 2 older guys said we could not go this way, GPS said we could, all the people came to look at the Crazy people sweating their nuts of.

    [​IMG]
    Yes you can.


    Matching Kit.
    [​IMG]

    Local shop
    [​IMG]

    One of the kids at the shop grabbed my empty tin of fish and set about scraping the inside dry, man he must be hungry...:huh


    We get going again and cannot believe our luck it's paradise, as always in Laos the Trails change, a dense jungle with deep dust single track and hot like an oven, no more photos until we hit the end of the trail, I wasn't looking at the GPS and the next time I did we were of course a check with Jim and he like me is loving it and doesn't care when it's this good and of course a new trail....true ADV....

    I really cant remember to much about it I was enjoying it so much, to much to take in in one go, big open logging tracks, fast and empty apart from a few settlements and views like your going to ride into the sunset....when we arrived at the Tarmac the other end I think we where both pretty speechless, hot and thirsty so we rested for a while...


    Nice waitress.

    [​IMG]

    We also stopped for lunch at a waterfall, best spring rolls in the land, a very old tree....

    Cant remember the name
    [​IMG]

    How old?
    [​IMG]

    Arriving in Attapue getting a Hotel was needed we where both shattered, we found cheap Vietnamese Hotel and Jim's air con did not work...... I had the shits all day so an early night as tomorrow would be another challenging day, we expected a tough and we would ride some historic Ho Chi Minh Trail
    #94
  15. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    London
    A bright and early start for us down the morning market getting some food for the day, met a guy who looked like Ho Chi Minh, drunk some strong coffee before setting off, first stop of the day was the Sam missile sight in Attapue. Saved and a real reminder of what was going on down here.

    Sam missile
    [​IMG]

    History.
    [​IMG]


    What a beast.
    [​IMG]

    Bombie fencing
    [​IMG]


    Warranty....who would go back and get the duds for a claim!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    we head of onto a track that takes us up through a Dam area, great riding and the Lifan turns 10k...
    [​IMG]

    10.000 Ks......who would have thought it.


    Once again the trails are hard dusty but once again the riding is so good we are just cracking along nicely first river crossing of the day and it's a dry one.

    Great, a ferry.
    [​IMG]

    Jim waiting his go in the shade.
    [​IMG]

    Locals waiting their turn.
    [​IMG]




    All safely across and once again we are told you cannot get to Cambodia this way. This route 110 has many famous places along route and was used extensively by the NVA.

    Eventually we came to this point, The Falls Choke point which had been bombed around the clock by the Americans but well guarded by the NVA road building team which kept it open.

    Sign to the Falls.

    [​IMG]


    Arriving down a track to this open area
    [​IMG]


    Empty building
    [​IMG]

    Track going down to the river
    [​IMG]

    The Falls back in the day
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]



    Bamboo crossing
    [​IMG]

    Trail of the other way, wonder whats down there?
    [​IMG]

    This would turn out to be a good fine later in the day. We pressed on on Beautiful jungle tracks with little or no people around, it was not a easy ride but most enjoyable, the water at the falls was to dirty to drink and I didn't want to clog it up unless we dying so as soon as we found ban we stopped for a fill up, man this was a scary place everybody had guns, it took us a while to find the water but eventually we got it, filled up, never before have I drunk so much water in one hit.

    There was a lot of war scrap and craters around here.

    [​IMG]

    Bombie casings.


    Part of a plane?
    [​IMG]

    Lots of these poles around, to ward of spirits
    [​IMG]


    The Trail is now winding up hill into thicker Jungle, the trail is well used and dusty but great fun, we hit a section and the whole right hand side of the forest is smouldering with either guns or small bombs going of, frightened the life out of me and Jim....


    Fire everywhere
    [​IMG]

    Big Bangs
    [​IMG]

    We didn't hang around here and continued on, crossing some beautiful old bridges.
    [​IMG]

    Looks damn old...military?

    Until we finally hit the Laos side of the border...
    [​IMG]



    The people manning the crossing said we could go on but there was only Cambodian Police and we would not be able to enter.....end of the road I though and was happy, Jim wanted to go look and somethings telling me don't do it......My bad feeling would prove real.
    [​IMG]


    There was a small opening in the forest that was the trail, looked like a tunnel.
    [​IMG]

    Hole in the forest behind the building on the left.

    Times getting on the weather has changed in a blink of an eye, so of it go into the Jungle and ban it starts pissing down, rain drops as big as my hand.....this is a steady climb with huge ruts and washed out section, the red clay is turning to ice and climb gets harder to the point where I cant keep the bike upright, Jim's experiencing some of his own problems with the big KTM and I wait for him...

    [​IMG]


    When Jim get to me we have done half a k in 15 minutes and it's getting worse...the bikes where just laying in the ruts sliding around...time to time round and that was not easy either...the decent would take about 40 minutes, I just went down engine of using the clutch as a brake and laid it down when ever things got to fast.


    Glad I was on the Lifan, it took a big effort to get of this slope.
    [​IMG]

    When I reached the bottom I found shelter and waited for Jim, soon I could here him blowing the horns which meant he needed help so I run back up the slope and we man handle the brute down, soaked.

    We held up in the border point waiting for the rain to ease, as soon as it did we where off, destination the Falls were would camp the night.......No sooner had we hit the trail again but it started raining again and I thought no real problem as the bull dust will soak up the water as there was so much of it, well I was wrong the dust to to marbles, the ruts turned into Torrents of water and control was just pot luck....we had been caught out by these conditions good and proper.


    Friendly locals.
    [​IMG]

    We then needed fuel which we found in a small Ban we then stopped and got more water from the Ban we had stopped in earlier, we only had about 20ks to go and sure enough it rains gain....slow and painful was the way down.

    [​IMG]


    Arriving at the Campsite the weather had eased of and this area was dry, we lit fire set up camp and dried out before having a hot meal.... spirits were high....


    Great fire with surroundings.
    [​IMG]


    well prepared.
    [​IMG]

    Kinda nice.
    [​IMG]
    We made a good camp and enjoyed what had passed that day, tomorrow would be another tough one, the water rushing down the falls below us and the bright stars served as amazing back drops....what a day.


    You coming?
    [​IMG]
    #95
  16. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    661
    Thank you for sharing this great ride with us. It looks like you guys have it figured out, getting bikes in Thailand and doing this ride. :thumb

    I also really like the small bikes like this Lifan/Dtracker/etc. They seem to make great traveling bikes. Much easier and cheaper to fix than big foreign bikes. Is it hard to buy in Thailand and cross borders, paperwork wise?
    #96
  17. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    London
    Hey witold glad your enjoying the ride many thanks...:D

    It's not that hard to do it if you really want, you can hire a bike easy in Thailand and cross to Laos, there is some paper work involved but hirer's should be able to give you the forms you need which basically give you permission to leave the country on their bike, I will post them on the regional forum.

    I have family in Thailand so my bike is registered to a family member who gives me the paper work, Jim's bike is still on US plate a temporary import I believe... just allow for Thai time and your fine...:clap

    Little bikes make it so much easier, and fixing them on route is no problem, we got wheel bearings at a market, Jim sourced a Battery for the Ktm...

    :D
    #97
  18. Witold

    Witold Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    661
    Ah... I see. That makes sense.

    My first 'exotic' international ride was all around Thailand and it was disappointing that I couldn't cross borders with my Kawi ER6. I was at all these border areas, Mae Sai, Mae Sot, Nong Khai, Yala/Narathiwat and it was a shame that I couldn't cross over to take a peek.
    #98
  19. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    London
    There is some great rides in Thailand especially up North, next time grab the paper work and go take a look at Laos...stunning place...:D

    :clap:clap
    #99
  20. Steve canyon

    Steve canyon Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2012
    Oddometer:
    70
    Location:
    London
    The Last few days had very hard and the aches and pains were coming, we managed coffee for breakfast and a few Bananas before breaking camp and heading North, we had made from the Mu Gui pass to Cambodia/Laos buffer zone on some of the most legendary trails Ho Chi Minh trail has to offer. Some of the trails are no longer there and some have been graded but the plan to ride the famous routes was coming together along with some great historical places.

    The Map below shows roughly the way we tried to come down all the way to Ban Bac Ammo Dump.
    [​IMG]
    Ho Chi Minh Trail Laos.

    This picture shows the southern part of the trip down to Cambodia and then back up North Via Chavan.
    [​IMG]
    Ho Chi Minh Trail Laos.


    So North was our bearing and at this point and it was all looking a long way of and there was still a lot to go see, the morning trail was a delight and soon we got back to the ferry crossing...and finally a big logging village, the GPs offered a different route back so we went and soon the Tarmac rewarded us with some stunning views.

    [​IMG]
    Jim on the Ferry



    Glad we came this way.
    [​IMG]

    Wow..
    [​IMG]

    About 30ks of rubber plantations and lorry's full of Logs.....a vast scale....huge!.
    [​IMG]

    New trees Lots of Rubber
    [​IMG]


    This route got us back to Attapue then we headed North East to Chavan the come down the Mountain into Sekong. Looked straight forward but soon the ungraded road 9001 turned into loose rocks and a bone shaking ascent up a rather large mountain, soon the loose rocks were covered by thick dust.

    Dubbed Hell road.
    [​IMG]




    It was a 100 degrees and really hard trying to keep the bike from bouncing around as it hit the hidden rocks, I thought the Lifan was stop and tell me to walk but it kept going.

    [​IMG]

    Deep Dust
    [​IMG]

    Too hot.
    [​IMG]

    <iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" width="425" height="240" src="http://api.smugmug.com/services/embed/2435338543_pqf4cV8?width=425&height=240"></iframe>


    Tarmac thank god...
    [​IMG]


    Eventually we hit a bit of Tarmac, this had been so hard we were both exhausted and wondered what the rest would be like....Oh dear this was going to be a hard day. Within a K the road just went back to rocks and dust....


    Great Views.
    [​IMG]

    Still climbing with great views but we both want this road to end, it's killing us but as always in Laos the hide rides are the best ones and as we turn a corner there's an old Chinese Tank sitting on the side of the road, well worth the Climb...break time and look around.

    [​IMG]

    Large Gun.
    [​IMG]


    I love this stuff so i'm having a good look around and this Tank is in good condition considering it's been here forty odd years, the Engine is a Gear Driven,Twin Overhead Cam V8/V6!!, I never knew this Technology was around in them days....

    Impressive engine internals for its date.
    [​IMG]


    Jim taking a peek..
    [​IMG]


    Well camouflaged.
    [​IMG]

    Wonder how it got like this..
    [​IMG]


    Shell racks.
    [​IMG]


    Viewing prisms.
    [​IMG]


    Machine Gun
    [​IMG]


    Great welding....great gun.
    [​IMG]


    Viewing prism still operational
    [​IMG]

    Hope they put that in a Museum...

    Back to the ride and the climb over and it flattens out into graded section, loose gravel.......the weather has changed again and as we get close to the fires the rain looks imminent and we don't want to get stuck here so a quick lunch stop and a chat and and both decide forget Chavan and head for Sekong all though it was near, both of us very hot a tired and go with plan B the weather being the deciding factor as we had seen what happens to the roads in Monsoon rain.


    Vast open areas.
    [​IMG]

    We filled the bikes up and the guy robbed us.......20,000 kip a litre, only fuel for miles a we needed a clean shot at Sekong with no Dramas to get there by nightfall and no way we were going to ride the way we had come....

    I'm looking at my bike a notice the swing arm bolt has sheared of, there is still a little bit poking through keeping it all in place......not the news we wanted this was a big problem, I decide that it's all still in place and if I keep my eye on the bolt, Jim's riding shot gun keeping his eye on things as we proceed.

    It's quiet beautiful up here and easy on the bike, so I'm feeling comfortable and able to check at will, we were headed for route 16, in between us and that was a section of Ho Chi Minh Trail that take us into a thick Forrest with nasty deep ruts that gave way to the best trail so far..


    I cant wait.
    [​IMG]

    Lets go back.
    [​IMG]

    Just stunning
    [​IMG]

    What an area. Ho Chi Minh trail
    [​IMG]

    I forgot all about the swing arm and was 100% on the ride, it really was that good, but all of a sudden you come into a big opening....which has a graded road that lead onto the descent, strange are we both agreed to come back to, we checked the bike and it was still the same so lets just leave it. Soon the road got worse as we got onto the being constructed most beautiful tarmac ride in the world that was in the same state as the climb....we booth looked and thought shit.


    Laos is beautiful.
    [​IMG]


    Stunning. But why are they setting fire to it all?
    [​IMG]

    The Hills where on fire all over the place, the plan was to get down as quickly as possible with out being killed by a broken swing arm, I was of and my sites set on the bottom, but when would it end was my main though coming down, each corner was more spectacular than the last and more challenging.

    Wow
    [​IMG]


    Eventually it flattened out the relief was great until the swing arm let go, the chain came of locking the back wheel and the swing arm collapsed as the bike came to a stop, I put the chain back on and walked it to a shady area and went bush mechanics on it, back on the road in 20 mins with a pair of mole grips holding it together.


    Can we fix it.
    [​IMG]



    Jim's big hands made sure they would not come of
    [​IMG]


    We pressed on trouble free hitting the ferry about 5pm and stopping at the first hotel we saw...
    [​IMG]



    No attention to the beat up farangs.
    [​IMG]


    Felt like a finish line....
    [​IMG]



    A long hard day with much to repair and fix the next day.
    what a day!.

    [​IMG]


    :D