What a great few days and a great start to the New Year.
Days that will remain in memory for a life time.
The idea to try and get to Long Chieng ( not having passes or permission) was born a long time ago.
Discussing this desire to visit Long Chieng with a Lao friend in Vientiane last trip.
(He doesn’t do freelance, loyal to his company)
Decided he wants to see what all the fascination is about with this place and said. “I will take you”.
Me:- “You little ripper”.
A few days before crossing the friendship bridge
Chatting with Oddvar. Told him my plan and may be 50 50 we succeed..
Oddvar:- “I’m in”.
We all meet up in Vientiane and have beers by the majestic Mekong
After copious amounts of Beer Lao. We decide to challenge our strategic skills..
The reccy will be in a 4 WD. If successful we shall return on bikes 🙂
We pass the Phu Bia Mine site
There is a small village near the mine.
It is Hmong New Year..
We tried to initially take the Long Chieng Track but it is blocked by land slides.
Some amazing tracks. Especially as you get closer to Long Chieng. 4WD or Dirt / Adventure Bikes only.
There is a new way that routes you via the mine site.
The loop through the mining area adds a bit of time, but the track is pretty good.
Massive amounts of track upgrade going on..
Looks like the mine is really going to open up Long Chieng district and make the most out of the concession.
(Jumping the gun here.. There is similar development on the other side heading to Long Chieng from Phonsavan..
Part way in massive road works.
Then it looks like they are building a new road off the original track.. We rode part of it before hitting the road works.
May be a new way to get the mining trucks through to the upgraded road on the other side and shorten the distance to move the ore.
Or just opening up the area or both.. Only time will tell.
Very strict times the road is open.
The guys had just moved the sign out to this location as we turned up..
The sign was closer to the village before.
Sure a lot of people want to know.. Is the area open to visit.
Officially No.. You need a permit to go in the area.
Unofficially.. No one seems to care at this particular point in time..
May be we are going to luck out and make it in with out all the approvals and other documents required from Vientiane?
If you have the time. Give it a shot. You will more than likely succeed.
Just leave early. Catch the road opening and closing times..
Just in case you are turned back.. Head to Xaisomboon for the night.
Staying over in Long Chieng at the guest house is a not allowed with out a permit.
We were lucky to be allowed to stay.
Even the owner of the shop where we had dinner.. Said “No one is allowed to stay with out prior permission”.
Though I do wonder how long this will remain the case if loads of bikers start to turn up.
We pull in to town. The only thing missing was a brass band and welcoming committee..
No one stopped or looked at us.
We went straight for the runway to get pics.. Just in case this changed.
Let’s see if I can remember the various places.
The air traffic control tower.
Only goats making a landing this day…
Forward air control tower..
I was incredibly lucky early the next morning. Woke up and went for a walk on the runway.
This old timer was walking too. He asked me in good English where I am from.
Then we started chatting. He was an officer on the other side and flew the spotter planes.
Then he started pointing out the different parts of the base..
Amazing. How about that. Only a few of the originals left at Long Chieng. (Sadly passed away since this report was written)
Vang Pao’s house.
The main street
We stayed the night.. Permission is a must.
Very luckily they made an exception. Only because of the good Lao friend we had with us plus money talks 😉
Dinner was Deer and Buffalo skin.
Good Morning Long Chieng. Pinch myself.. We made it in, allowed to stay over with out permission.
The next day we ride in from Vang Vieng…
From the ridge line. Lots of UXO up here. Stay on the path.
Oddvar’s Pic. Long Chieng behind us.
What a great few days. Pleasure driving and riding with you Oddvar.
After you pass through Long Chieng and have climbed up past the ridge line.
You have a steep and twisty decent. A little damp too as mostly in the shade.
Then through some nice little villages and more ups and downs over the mountains until you hit the road works coming from the other side.
Always amazes me how they carve the roads through these mountains.
We stopped for a coffee along the way. Certainly a good assortment of goods for sale..
Last but not least.. a pic with this little Hmong kid.