Fantastic friendly people. River crossings. Bridges from another era and a few good laughs on the trails…
Lao Dirt Bike Odyssey – Special thanks to KTM stuntman James Franey.
Well.. All the fun of the video editing out of the way.. Time for the ride report.
Jim wanted to run his KTM and I was contemplating what riding to do next.
“I’m in for a quick trip to Southern Laos..”
Certainly didn’t expect to stay as long as we did or have as much fun as we did..
Which can be seen in the video’s above.
Managed to “find” a couple of new tracks as well as link up a track from the last ride to lake Nong Fa.
Put my bike on the train in Bangkok. Fly over to Ubon where Jim picks me up at the airport.
Off to the train station.. Bike waiting for me as expected.
We head off to Pakse.. easy ride, stayed on the paved road this time..
It was bloody hot.. Temp showed 41c, feel like 51c according to my phone weather app..
I actually pulled my visor down to keep the wind out as it was like a blow torch.
Check in at the usual hotel in Pakse and off to Nazim for a great Indian.
A word of warning.. The food is great at Nazim.. But the chairs are cheap crappy plastic made for 50kg people.
You have to put two chairs together to strengthen the legs or you will go A over T as I did and many others did.
Don’t go to the Indian on the main road diagonally opposite Langkham Hotel.. I think it is called Jasmine.
Yes, it is full of people.. But the Indian is rubbish.. Everything tastes boiled and the same…
Up early the next morning and we take the 13 up to Savanakhet..
Another stinking hot day.. Glad we left early and avoided the worst of the mid day / afternoon heat.
I had never been to Savan before and wanted to check it out.. Also they have a Casino..
Always enjoy a couple of hundred bucks on the Black Jack tables.
Jim had an issue with his bike which we stayed for an extra day to sort it out..
We decide to head up to the Cashino..
Not bad as far as border Cashino’s go..
Clean tidy and not run down like the ones I have seen in Cambodia and North of VTE.
Jim hadn’t played before and a few pointers here and there.
When to take a card, sit, split etc etc…
First night I win 6,000 baht and Jim wins 6,800 baht.
All money used in the Cashino is Baht as are the chips.
Winners are Grinners
Jim managed to get a bucket load of money.. I have created a monster. “Lets go back to Savan….”
Not everyone is a winner.
These cars sitting at our GH are from gamblers (Lao) that borrowed a stake and lost..
Until they pay it back the car sits there.. Some had been there for a while with partially flat tyres and very dirty cars.
Note the numbers plates papered over.
The next day we head up to Thakhek..
Deciding to follow the river as much as possible keeping off the 13.
On the way out of town Jim points out this most unusual lawn…
Very posh house. Stick the camera through the gate for a snap.
The route up
The cops were just up the road and we pull over on the pavement and ride on the footpath to the river
Ting Tong Farang I guess as they never bothered us.
Tobacco growing along the way.. Noticed this a few times on this ride.
May be I just never noticed this in Lao before.
Items being carried in boats from Thailand over the Mekong to Laos.
Then pulled up the embankment.. But don’t worry.. Customs is at the top to collect his share of the tax..
River side dining looking over to Thailand
Luckily the temperature started to drop and it was much cooler.
Very pleasant in fact for this time of year.. Usually hot as hell.
We decide to stay one more night and do a day ride before heading off to the next destination – Which we will decide this evening.
Some great trails and new tracks not on the GPS that we managed to link up.
As you can see.. Dry as a bone.
A good hard slog on the mighty KTM 950..
Last but not least.. The Buddha cave.. Very impressive.
Just noticed trails at the back on Goggle Earth so will check these out next time in that direction.
Though the area we explored looks like it gets very wet and very muddy around there when the rains come.
We have breakfast on the corner by the square..
Great views of morning life in town and the majestic Mekong.
Not to mention the best chips I have had in Asia.. really good chips.
Egg, Bacon and Chips for breakfast it was, good too..
We decide on today’s plan.. Head off to Xepon taking in a few of the places along the way.
First we take in the SAM Missile site
Then some of the other sights too.
What a ripper crossing.. More in the first video above of the crossings.
Looks like a pretty bloody big snake crossed the track before we came along.
Xepon to Ta Oy
But first a couple of pics I missed for the previous couple of days.
Some friendly village kids at a village on our day ride out of Takhek.
A pretty cool bridge crossing.
Lots of dust as usual.
The route Xepon to Ta Oy.
Having already done the route via the Big Bamboo bridge.. It was time to do something a bit different.
Big thanks to Chris for giving us this track.. It is a real ripper.
Big respect to Auke for driving this track.. Some bits were technical on the bike..
But a good ride and amazing remote Laos.
Why go around the fallen trees when you can go over them 🙂
Jim tearing it up on the monster KTM 950 Adventure.
Lots of kids happy to meet the foreigners in Power Ranger suits.
Before turning off on to the track proper. A few villages with lots of bomb casing holding up huts.
Nice mud hole for Jim
Stopped at a remote village.. Asked permission to take their photo.. Then smiles as they see themselves.
Yet another ripper river crossing.
Except for the last big rocky river crossing on Route 18.. Pretty sure we stood up on the pegs and powered through each river / water splash…
Funny thing is.. Only two years ago it was tough to stand on the pegs.. felt strange.. Now couldn’t imagine any other way.. Much easier.
Not all the fun was had on the river crossings…
Bridges can be fun too 🙂
Some stills taken from the video’s at the beginning of the report for those that don’t watch vids :-0
[B]Ta Oy to Xekong[/B] (Sekong)
Mostly graded road all the way and a very dusty ride.
We did pass Kaleum, but didn’t stop as not much point seeing and abandoned town.
The water will rise up covering this area once the dam is ready.
There is a mine along the way with a few new tracks which we rode around and explored a little.
After checking out the tracks on Google Earth. Looks like they would have ended up at the river if they went that far.
Back on the road to Xekong..
Once you come down the mountain the road is pretty boring and a couple of dirty water splashes to keep you awake.
Not far from Xekong and I get a flat.. Bit of a surprise as enjoying the track at around 80 kph then the backend goes…
Had the tyre off and tube out and sticking the new tube in by the time Jim returned.
Rex will be proud of me.. As he usually changes my tyres.. LOL
Lets hope he doesn’t read this 😉
Jim helped of course when he came back.. Which makes it a lot easier with two people.
Plus the tyre being warm made it a lot easier.
We arrive at our hotel in Xekong by the ferry.
Then off in to town to find chips and eggs.
[B]Xekong (Sekong) to Attapue [/B]
This ride was one of the highlights of the trip.
Rather than go down the boring tarmac to Attapue we decide to make a real good ride of it..
If time permits.. Try and link up the track from Nong Fa to the Xekamen river.
We will make that decision when we have to turn off and make sure there is enough time.
Over all route for the day.
We saw this turn to the left and it looked a reasonably well used track and said.. lets have a look in here.
If we had gone straight on.. (Blue Line) We would have carried on south to Pa Am and Attapue.
The ride through here was fantastic.. Recommend it..
When we came out on the other main track at the other end.. It wasn’t far to the track that we believed links up with the Nong Fa track on the other side of the river.
Here you can see the track in red goes all the way to the river. The light yellow track is on the other side of the river (ridden last trip).
At the end of this track you can go left to Lake Nong Fa or right back to the main highway and border with Vietnam.
After the ferry crossing out of Xekong.. The road is paved for about 40km at this stage.. Then you hit the road works.
But nothing to slow us down.
Some pretty nice views as you get higher.
Lunch is available on the way up the mountain if you skipped breakfast.
After we take the left and see where we will end up…
Honestly believe this is a man made plain.. As there are fenced off trees and when you look on Google Earth.
It looks man made, too smooth and cut out.
Some single trail and very remote villages.
We had to go bush to get around the village.. They guided us as to where to go.
(More of this in the video)
Jim getting stuck
No we are not on Mars.. This was a really strange landscape that went for a distance.
Here you can see the track on the other side of the river and how steep it is down.
We head down and it is a long and steep in parts.. The link up with the track to Nong Fa at the river.
The village being expanded for the workers to move in and build the new hydro dam.
Down at the river and behind Jim is where the little canoes go with the smaller bikes.
Before trying to desperately scramble up the riverbank on the other side.
The kids that take the bikes over the river.
Look up where the dead tree is at the top.. This is as far as we went last time.
Doesn’t look steep as usual in the pics.
Here is the view from the other side of the river.. ( Still to work on finishing that report off)
Jim trying to find a way down. The picture is looking over to where the canoes are and the track down to the river on the other side.
The Honda Waves were pushed up here with wheels spinning and three Laos doing the job.
10 mins each bike.. After they managed to get the bikes out of the river mud.
Always prefer going up hill.. We made it back out in quick time.
Locals along the way
Now it is only couple of hours until dark and we still have 100km to go to Attapue.
Not a big distance.. But in the Lao Mountains it takes time and you don’t want to be caught in the dark unless you can help it.
Refuel and check out the freshly painted rocket in Pa am.
Back to Attapue. Magnum Ice Cream Central.
We always stopped at this friendly shop the last trip.
Magnum after dinner..
The family were surprised.. “You are back.. ”
The daughter having fun on our bikes.
Attapue to Pakse
One of my favourite rides in Laos.. Route 18 A.
This is around the 6th time to do this ride.. But the first time from East to West.
Usually always West to East..
At this time of year we expected things to be dry and they were.
A repeat of November with the BIG KTM would not have been fun in all the mud.
But good video for me to play with 555
The graded road from Attapue to the bridge over the river was in good repair.. Best ever seen it.
We suspected that they are preparing for the rainy season.. usually this is full of bulldust and holes that could swallow a car.
A little bit of bash plate repair in Attapue first..
After you cross over the bridge.. it is easy to follow the new boring track..
We did and turned back around to ride the real 18A.
Not far in and you see a few abandoned villages. Also the electricity cables are in total disrepair.
Some of the villages with no power but the locals staying put.
Then we get in the route 18 A proper.. You can notice the decrease in traffic.
But the track is still used by the locals..
So unless it gets developed in here.. Should be fun for dirt bikers that like a bit of adventure and not the boring graded road on top.
Classic 18 A
There were much bigger and deeper ruts than this that went for quite a way.
Trees over the track.. We back tracked.. joined up with the graded road and then went back in the the original 18A
Much lower this time of year.. Unlike in November
We made it!! (again)
Some of the riding in Route 18A in this video.
We spent a couple of days in Pakse.
Nice to catch up with my friend Lanna. Plus check out her new house.
Dinner was freshly killed and prepared.
Great taste and couldn’t get fresher.
After making it the first time and checking the Go Pro… It was dead..
Change the battery and only one thing for it.. Go back through the river and come back again, with the new battery in and to the amusement of the locals.
Later that evening realise the battery died just after stopping the first time through the river.
There was no need to go back.. BUT it was fun.