Laos on dirt - 2,400 km in 12 days

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Brian_BKK, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. Brian_BKK

    Brian_BKK Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    34
    Hi Fella's,

    Rex and I had a fantastic trip to Northern Laos..
    As this was a relatively long trip it will take to long to do one full report.
    The trip report will be posted in sections, most likely by the day or days.

    Three minute Youtube video from our trip here:-
    [video=youtube;Q7-KrBoiTZc]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7-KrBoiTZc[/video]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7-KrBoiTZc

    Thank you Chiang Rai saddle bags for allowing me to leave my bike and gear at the shop the week before the big trip.
    Great shop and will be back for a closer look.

    Day 1

    Thursday night I flew up from Bangkok and met Rex.. Rex had picked up my bike and gear earlier as I was getting in late after work..
    Must say.. CRI airport taxis are a rip off.. compared to Bangkok and CNX.. Even did the walk away in disgust waiting for the call back and lower price.. Didn't happen..
    So get outside and do a U-turn and all smiles at the desk... grrrr.. CRI taxi Mafia.

    Meet Rex and off we go for some beers... and more beers and more beers...

    [​IMG]

    Wake up early and get to Chiang Khong.. Went and did the paper work first near the police station and then down to Bamboo to meet David Unk for breakfast.
    The God Father of Northern Thailand biking sees us off at the ferry...

    [​IMG]

    We snuggle up at the front of the trucks.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Get over to Laos..

    [​IMG]

    Everyone is on lunch... Lunch starts at 12 and finishes at 1 officially... But this is Laos.. try 2pm or there abouts...

    Wander around.. get a drink etc and kill some time..Finally we are done at 2.30pm..

    While looking around we see how the Lao side border check point is proposed to look next year..
    On a positive note.. No more rip off from the miserable witch that takes your 500 baht for the ferry ride at Chiang Khong.

    [​IMG]

    We both look at each other and say.. Bugger it.. lets stay here tonight as it is so late. We will take it easy and eat well - it is a holiday after all..
    Pledging to make early start we can catch up on this afternoons lost ride..

    Just as well we did.. The heavens open and it chucked it down.. We were wandering around town trying to find insurance..
    All closed at the border, none open on the main street.. so we ride around and eventually find a Viet Lao broker 2 streets up....

    Park the bikes and back we go for Beer Oclock looking over at Chiang Khong and a great dinner.... So cheap and really tasty....

    Nice beer tent and great food
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Chiang Khong on the other side from our great restaurant
    [​IMG]

    Day 2

    Houei Xai to Luang Namtha via Muang Sing

    Map used with permission of GT Rider (www.gt-rider.com)
    [​IMG]

    Early start.. up with the birds..

    The Monks are out and so is the fog..
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Nice hearty breakfast..

    [​IMG]

    What was the beginning of many many many egg breakfasts to come over the next 12 days...

    We ride up the new road from Houei Xai to the turn off...
    [​IMG]

    Finally we can do some dirt... or as we would find out later.. MUD
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Rex showed me a great ride along the Lao / Burma border that runs along the Mekong via Muang Sing to Luang Namtha.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    This was really fantastic..
    [​IMG]

    Fantastically muddy...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Time for lunch on the trail.. Bread and Cheese with freshly opened can of tuna so the sandwich isn't soggy...

    Perfect. Looking at the Mekong and Burma... A Chinese 4wd came along.. Quite shocked to see us and offered us water etc..
    We said we were fine and they left rather amused at the two crazy fellas in the mud..

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There is only one thing to do with a muddy bike.. That is get the mud off...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Arrive Luang Namtha..

    Beer Lao hall of fame
    [​IMG]

    I decided on the 'Fillet of local with roasted curry' not much meat on those locals..
    [​IMG]

    To be continued....
    #1
  2. Habibi Rocks

    Habibi Rocks Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    58
    Location:
    Burbank Ca.
    :lurk
    #2
  3. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    675
    Location:
    Oregon
    Pics are great but your copyright info in the middle of them kills it; photos are copyrighted to you once posted so no need to worry :thumb
    #3
  4. Brian_BKK

    Brian_BKK Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    34
    Not really worried about copyright.. Just had instances where people on social media and forums.. take you photos and pass it off as there own.. No problem if recognition is given.. but it usually isn't.

    Cheers
    Brian
    #4
  5. Brian_BKK

    Brian_BKK Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    34
    Day 3..

    Luang Namtha - Boun Neua


    Map used with permission of GT Rider (www.gt-rider.com)
    [​IMG]

    We delayed our start as it was still raining, it was pouring down..
    Lets have some more eggs for breakfast.... for a change

    [​IMG]

    Didn't look good.. but then after an hour started to lift.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then we turn off the paved road and the mud and slippery stuff begins.
    We began to have concerns how far we could get today if it stayed like this all the way..

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We stopped and watched the two Honda Waves.. Cruel but funny to see them slipping and sliding and doing circles etc to make it up the hill...
    Doesn't look steep in this picture.. but it was and you can see by the turned up mud.. slippery
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Some great scenery..
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And more mud
    [​IMG]

    Lots of stream crossings.. all at a reasonable level due to the overnight and morning rain.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Rex prepared lunch.. The Bear Gryles knife was handy, the tuna put up quite a fight.. Rex's superior bushmen skills came through.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We join up to a new muddy muddy road.. just the entire stretch was mud all the way.

    [​IMG]

    Not so many mud pictures now as it was all a bit same same and your 100 th big splash through the slop was not so interesting to take a photo of any more :-)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Lots of potential for land slides along here.. this bit wasn't too bad.. The worse stuff we didn't hang around.
    [​IMG]

    Kids play any where..
    [​IMG]

    Local trying to avoid the real mushy stuff.. Not sure about this strategy though.. Bit of a drop on the other side.
    [​IMG]

    A little Oasis along the way...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    FINALLY - we arrive at the paved road...
    To be honest.. we both agreed it was a welcome change to ride on the paved road.. Great fun on the mud.. but time for a change..
    [​IMG]

    Fuel stop just out of town..
    [​IMG]

    Lots of spots along the paved road like this..
    You can see the soil is washing out from under the paved road... This road is all relatively new.. So watch out for gravel in the corners. But a good road and a good ride
    [​IMG]

    Arrive at our guest house for the night
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Not a bad little town.. a few restaurants with clean food.. More omelettes to come...

    Decided to skip Pongsali as we want to ride all the way up to the very most northern point in Laos with China tomorrow.....


    To be continued...
    #5
  6. Brian_BKK

    Brian_BKK Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    34
    Day 4

    Ou Tai and the Northern most part of Laos with China..


    Map image used with permission of GT Rider (www.gt-rider.com)
    [​IMG]

    This is a great ride.. very very scenic and fun dirt road.. took about 3 hrs to ride to Ou Tai.

    Most of the road is like this with stunning views in to the bottom of the mountain valley.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Just imagine how this looks at rice harvesting time - Good reason to go back...
    [​IMG]

    Fantastic dirt road.. not too slippery and in good condition..
    [​IMG]

    We named this village.. "Baan Frisbie"

    Rex bought a Frisbie at Big C before the trip..
    Don't think the kids had a frisbie before.. They loved it.. and before you know it.. The entire village was out..
    As you know the kids in these parts are very poor.. As much as we would like to carry clothes for them.. It just isn't practical on the bikes.
    Great interaction with the locals.. We only stopped to take a picture of the clouds in the mountains as it was so lovely..
    Then Rex thought this was as good a place as any to give his Frisbie away..

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Love seeing their photos..
    [​IMG]

    The view we stopped for
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Getting closer to Ou Tai.. Around 3 hrs to ride with photo stops, enjoying the scenery.

    [​IMG]

    Coming off the mountain in to Ou Tai - This town is still around 1,300 metres above sea level if I remember correctly..
    [​IMG]

    We have a quick look around the town and check out accommodation.. Tell them we will be back around 3 or 4.

    Refuel
    [​IMG]

    Head off to the China border.. Around 50 KM north of Ou Tai.. Northern most point of Laos..

    The road to the border with China. A lot of it is bone jarring.. lots of rocks in the road for the rainy season..
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Laos must have some of the most remote and tallest mobile towers in the world... This is around 20 km from the border.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The border with China...

    We were really not welcome here.. After this picture we went a bit closer for a photo by the border.
    Rex was in front and was nearly greeted with a Karate kick... We did a very quick u-turn and head back the way we came..
    Tense first 5 km as on the way out.. Rex saw one of the border guards on the phone looking in our direction as we left..

    [​IMG]

    We stopped 5 km down the road and gathered our thoughts and relaxed a bit and had a bit of a laugh...
    Northern most tip of Laos and an attempted Karate kick.. Box ticked - Karate kick a bonus ;-)
    [​IMG]

    Just before entering Ou Tai from the Chinese border direction. (Most of the produce goes to China)
    You see many banana plantations too.. Filling up the boxes that state.. 'Produce of China', then loaded on the Chinese registered trucks.
    [​IMG]

    Back to Ou Tai and check in to the guest house.. This place looked real plush.. inside and outside.. But it was like some fake toy house.
    Nothing worked.. Plush bathroom.. with fancy taps and sink etc.. but you bathed from a bucket of water.. The usual sheets had been slept in and so on..

    But it was fine.. just turned all the sheets inside out... and we had secure parking for the bikes
    [​IMG]

    Time to hunt down a cold beer..
    Everything and I mean everything comes from China here.. you see the signs and vehicles with Chinese number plates.
    Some of the people in the local shops can't speak Lao.. We were speaking Thai to them and they responded in a Chinese dialect.

    We walked up and down the street to find a COLD beer.. All the fridges are barely turned on or the doors don't close properly...
    [​IMG]

    Then we found this place... ICE COLD beers.. Spent the rest of the evening here watching the village life.
    Great.. what more could you ask for and boy did it get busy.. Yet again, a local in the middle of no where comes up and has a 5 min chat with us in English..
    [​IMG]

    Neither of us game to eat the food as all looked a bit dirty.. plus you can't trust the fridges.. No one wants to get sick and a three hour ride out..
    So it was lots of beer Lao and instant noodles for dinner..
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    To be continued
    #6
  7. grizzzly

    grizzzly The Pre-Banned Version

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,735
    Location:
    socorro NM 505-five five zero-2583
    :lurklooking good
    #7
  8. bajubaru

    bajubaru Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    24
    awesome trip :clap:clap:clap
    #8
  9. Brian_BKK

    Brian_BKK Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    34
    Day 5

    Ou Tai to Muang Khua

    (Trip to Pakha not shown in the route on the map as a wrong turn we made)
    Map image used with permission of GT-Rider (www.gt-rider.com)
    [​IMG]


    Leave Ou Tai early and work our way up through the fog up the mountain.
    [​IMG]

    Some great pics up above the clouds.. Just amazing.. We could have sat there all morning looking at this..
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Time to head back down the mountain and in to the cloud
    [​IMG]

    Some of the scenery along the way out..

    [​IMG]

    Kids at he local school to the top left. This was a very poor village.. some of them looked like they were malnourished.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Back at Omelette central.. Glad to get here and have a feed after only having instant noodles the night before.
    [​IMG]

    Ever wondered how to stir you three in one coffee.. We did. Then looked at how the locals do it.. Live - learn - adapt.
    [​IMG]

    Wrong turn to the Pakha border crossing with China.. No Karate kick reception this time :-)
    [​IMG]

    Hit a fair bit of roadworks with lots of trucks... Not fun for a while with those maniac Chinese truck drivers tearing down the mountain.
    [​IMG]

    Then it was all good riding..
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    UNTIL.. Road works again.. Delayed quite some time. Chatting with a Thai couple from Chiang Mai travelling around in a Thai pickup..
    After the road works finally cleared.. We ripped down the mountain.
    Great fun going for it.. but keeping safe also as night time was not far away and no incidents needed so close yet so far away..

    Made it to Muang Khua just on dusk..

    To be continued...
    #9
  10. GSPD750

    GSPD750 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,541
    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    You had me at the first picture....beer. :D Keep 'em coming. Cool ride. :thumbup
    #10
  11. Llamaha

    Llamaha Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    858
    Location:
    Bogota Colombia
    Hey mate, great ride report though the watermarks are a little intrusive. Might I ask where you rented the bikes from? I'm thinking of heading over there sometime next year.
    #11
  12. Sascha

    Sascha Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    37
    Location:
    Germany
    true, couldnĀ“t look at them.... 2nd one you forgot one CR...
    #12
  13. davesupreme

    davesupreme grand poobah

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Oddometer:
    3,140
    Location:
    palm harbor, fla
    yeah, y'all.... great report.... great pics... who cares about the hairdressers, i actually like the copywrite...... interested too where you got the bikes.... frisbee was cool....:clap
    #13
  14. Brian_BKK

    Brian_BKK Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    34
    Hi Guys,

    I live in Bangkok and own my KLX.. So no rentals.. But if you do want a rental bike in Laos.. Check out Fuark. Really cool Lao guy.. He is the main man most of the rest rent from and then rent on to you all ;-)

    Not much English is spoken.. but in person his english is fine..

    Based in Vientiane.. If you look on www.gt-rider.com you can find Fuark and other bike rental details.

    Cheers
    Brian
    #14
  15. Brian_BKK

    Brian_BKK Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2012
    Oddometer:
    34
    Day 6

    Muang Khua to Nong Khiew (Straight down)

    [​IMG]
    (Map image used with permission of www.gt-rider.com)

    Not a long ride planed today.. To be honest we are both getting a bit tired and talking of a rest day..

    The funniest part of this ride is how Rex described it.. "Ah.. it is easy.. it is all flat.. once you get in further it is wasteland"..
    Well.. immediately it is steep and muddy and slippery as hell again plus the morning fog..

    Riding up and down steep and steeper, over half way I said to Rex.. "You are right.. Laos is flat"..
    Became a running joke between us.. What is it like to XXX destination.. Oh, it is flat...

    Rex honestly doesn't remember it being like this before.. Too much Beer Lao me thinks LOL..

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Some very narrow steep tracks up the hills.. You don't want to slip over the edge.
    [​IMG]

    Dropped it on this trail.. Getting out of the way of a small pick-up.. when I went back on the track.. The front tyre went out from under me with the moss on the stones.
    Even the track was slippery as hell.. More than a few times we had the engine off and going down using front brake and engine brake to stop it sliding out from under us.
    very lucky we didn't drop it more than a couple of times to be honest.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then it all turned easier.. sun drying up the track and flatter..
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Made it to Nong Khiew around 1 or 2ish and decided a half rest day..
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    View from the Guest House
    [​IMG]

    Sunset Beers
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Excellent Indian for dinner..
    [​IMG]
    #15