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Old 01-18-2008, 01:10 AM   #39
Joined: Oct 2007
Oddometer: 6
Day 4 Xam Neua to Phonsovan

I thought you guys had got bored!...
Justin hope the wrist is healing, but what does ftb stand for?

Here's the next installment...

Day 4 Xam Neua to Phonsovan

We breakfasted at the market again.

There was quite a lot of choice: river eels live or dead, fried bugs or fresh frogs!

We again went for the BBQs Moo delicious, washed down with a couple energy boosting bottles of M150s.

Loading up the bikes it was looking like it was going to be a clear day.
The cyclone had blown through leaving us with a good window to get moving south-west.
We headed up the hill, along Route 6, passing the bus station above the town.
It was after 8am and we had left it a little late and would have to overtake the busses along the way.

The trucks proved to be the worst though, as they hogged the centre lane oblivious to all coming behind.
Thongkhoun would ride alongside and signal if the road ahead was clear then both of us would accelerate past.

I would wave to Dad to follow, if it was still clear.
The road, though not wide was on the whole good all the way to Nam Neun.
The mountainous sections were only tricky when meeting oncoming vehicles driving on our side of the road,
especially as we were now riding on the right with nowhere to go but the steep drop-off.
At one small village was a family who were amused to see us.

Stopping for a break beside emerald green paddy fields a cow came up to investigate who I was.

Further on was this stunning waterfall.
I had missed it my way through, as it had been raining hard and the waterfall is only barely visible obliquely from the road.
We took time out to ride up to it.

I then climbed as far as I could with motorcross boots on!

Then off again.
The ride and the weather were making it the most pleasurable riding day so far.

Further on back in the mountains the cloud had cleared.
An old woman was selling her jungle catch Bamboo Rat.

She had one of these critters tied up in a harness.
Its two long front teeth had been knocked out and it was looking distinctly pissed off.
She allowed me to hold it, asking for $3.
I put it on the ground still holding it as it scurried sideways like a crab trying to escape.
Before I knew it, it had escaped off down the mountain.
With a screetch, the granny was after it screaming, what I could only believe were not very nice words.
Dad what should I do.
I think you have to give her $3 now

After a few moments she came back triumphantly, holding a now very disgruntled Rat
who was evidently going to be BBQd before sunset.
We reached Nam Neun for an early lunch of more grilled Moo.

We had been warned to look out for an eccentric biker by Jimoi.

An XR was parked up and the intrepid Digby was finishing up before continuing a recce up to Vieng Xai.
He had a group clients coming over to ride Laos and parts of the Ho Chi Minh trail.
Thongkhoun was going to accompany his group to help out.
A Laos army truck rumbled into town, loading up on supplies.

I have heard of an army marching on its stomach but M150!
These guys must get really buzzed.
Filled up again my XR was clearly using 30percent more fuel than Thongkhoun & Dads Bajas.
Dad had ridden my very bike only a couple of months before and had complete carb failure.
We had been promised that it had been fixed evidently not.
The road out of Nam Neung deteriorated as we headed south.
Large dips in the road would slingshot you out which fun, unless going into a corner.
We had passed the morning busses, so it was a clear road but hot ride.
Nearing Muang Kham the road was being fixed up wider and resurfaced.

Just short of Muang Kham we reached a turning and headed off down a dirt road for about 6 kms, to the museum and monument to those who died in the bombing of the Tham Phiu cave in 1968, where 437 people were killed in an airstrike.

The museum had a few sad personal artifacts on show and pictures of the tragedy.

We took a momentary break after viewing the exhibition
A statue outside poignantly showing a father carrying the body of his dead child stood as a sad memorial.

We headed into Muang Kham a town that appeared to only exist as a crossroads, where Route 6 & 7 meet.
We stopped for a quick bite to eat and a cold drink.
Not a place to hang around more than necessary.
Route 7 from hereon was good, allowing for a fast 50 km run into Phonsovan.

We found our hotel the Auberge on a hill overlooking Phonsovan.

The rooms were very comfortable, each with their own fireplace.

Outside was a huge bombcrater beside what was evidently once an anti-aircraft gun position.
We were conscious of recent history even the room keys were made from old shellcasings.

Stickers on the hotel door showed a distinct group of visitors.

A party of Italian tourists looked upon the arrival of our dishevelled party with pity, if not actual disgust.
That night we ate in the hotel and chilled out by a roaring wood fire.

KMs today 40, 56, Nam Neun 95, Muang Kham 26, 25 +10 Phonsovan 252

Lessons Learned
Ensure that I have the power & space to complete the overtake
Don't play with Bamboo Rats
Watch out for big dips in the road
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