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Old 11-14-2007, 12:00 PM   #16
MotorPsycho Miko
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This is what I like about ADVrider- giving me a chance to see places that I will probably never get to ride.
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Old 11-15-2007, 11:57 AM   #17
RGun OP
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Day 2 Vieng Thong to Vieng Xai

Day 2 Vieng Thong to Vieng Xai



Vieng Thong to Vieng Xai on the map it looked like an easy 180 kilometre ride on the map, but along with connecting with cyclone as it blew through, the narrow switchback roads with the deluge making the surface treacherous.

It proved to be a tough going day.

Woken up a few minutes before 6am by tannoy from the local gendarmerie broadcasting the news to all & sundry.
Further sleep was not possible, but I rolled over and dozed stuffing a pillow over my head.
Outside a steady rain was falling.



Dad finally got me up at 0730 – later than planned.
Thongkhoun had got our bikes out and oiled our chains – what a great guy!



We returned to the fly-blown restaurant again – but neither grilled frogs nor fried insects appealed.

Dad & I had sticky rice, cookies – coffee for Dad – and M-150 [the local Red Bull] for me!
Thongkhoun tucked into the local delicacies with gusto!

With rain now falling steadily we bought chinese waterproof ponchos designed for riding scooters, as you could cover the front headlight and a passenger – all for $3.



0845 set off after filling up – my bike was using two litres of fuel more than Dad’s over the last section.

Unlike my fellow bikers, I thought the rain would soon lift and left without putting the poncho on.
Within 5 minutes I was soaked and I had to admit to Dad that he was right. GRRRR!
We cut the ponchos down to a midi waist-size.

Route 1C was originally built by the Chinese for the Pathet Lao in 1973 when the B-52 strikes stopped. This allowed cmmunist forces unimpeded access to reinforce their forces who were slowly gaining a strangle-hold around Luang Prabang.
It has been rebuilt may times sinces as the monsoon takes its toll on the surface.
The torrents of rain had created a shale slush which made the riding very tricky.
Corners and descent had to be in low gear as the rain grew the bike would step out on corners where the shale was thick.

Helmets misted up and, as the cloud closed in, the visibility dropped to barely 20metres at times.
I soon found that following the back wheel of our guide was the answer, mirroring his actions.
The rain runoff was foaming white, down the side drainage ditches.
Those clouds we had seen yesterday afternoon, were the beginnings of a cyclone blowing through northern Laos from Vietnam.
We were fortunate, as we rode around the periphery of its fury.
Elsewhere, villages were flooded.

We had acquired another rider from Vieng Thong who was going to Xam Neua to sell his bike, where he would get a better price.
Riding in a sodden jacket, with a plastic bucket of a helmet and flip-flop sandals he made us feel horribly over-dressed.
His tyres were bald and yet he was keeping up with us in the twisties.
Dad was keeping up today having cast aside his Bavarian Bus [GS] riding-style and was having to work the Baja’s revvy little gearbox.
When we reached Rout 6, we turned south for respite in the coffee houses of Nam Neuan.



Thongkhoun ordered turtle soup we had freshly grilled Moo and boiled eggs – DELICIOUS! And another M-150.
On the wall was a 3D menu board with bugs and turtles stuck to it.



Not very appetising for us farangs.
Meanwhile the rain had returned.

It was just after twelve, when we topped up with fuel and rolled out North on Route 6.
The rain had eased off again; but we soon regained the cloud base, when we reached the mountain ridge crest.


At the 75km post to Xam Neua the twisties began again, hairpin switchbacks
with 200 metre drop-offs with no hard shoulder for a safety margin.
This required concentration – Dad was quite short with me
when I asked if I he minded my using my iPOD to keep alert.


I Want My iPOD!
The road though relatively quiet still had pick-ups, trucks and busses not to mention a smattering of scooters.
Butterfly strikes were an explosion of powdered colour,
leaving their imprint on my visor like a paintball splat.

The rain had dampened our enthusiasm for visiting the standing stones,
which were off the main road some 6kms down a rocky muddy road.
By now my boots had gained a deep end of water and my toes were doing fin-kicks to stay afloat.

We rolled into Xam Neua at 2.45pm, a large town nestling in the green hills.


The Hammer & Sickle upside down - a sign of distress?
In town, set back on the wide boulevards were hideous examples of soviet town planning with their crumbling architecture, a visual scar on a fast growing town.



Once in Xam Neua I discovered an awesome bridge that could be used as a small ramp for “small jumps”.
I got some AIR!



A quick coffee[Another M-150 for me] break before we rode the last 30kms to Vieng Xai,



The weather had changed for the better and so had the scenery.
Having crossed the mountain range we had descended to a beautiful landscape of intense fluorescent green paddyfields punctuated with dramatic rocky karsks.


Secret Laos - Vieng Xai, Pathet Lao Headquarters
In this stunningly beautiful setting the Pathet Lao had held out against persistent B52 airstrikes
hidden in their bunkers dug deep into the large karsk rocky outcrops around.
Now the town is a haven of tranquility, that has become a museum to the Laoation communists' struggle against the US backed kingdom.
Outside the main graffiti covered auditorium is a gold painted statue extolling the courageous victories of the soldiers, farmers & peasants stamping on a bomb marked USA.



We rode out to the Thavisay Hotel nestling at the foot of one of the most striking mountain karsks beside a beautiful lake.
This was one of the last places the Lao King & Queen were seen alive in 1975.



A seminar was taking place and the reception staff, were only able to offer us two rooms.
I went to look at them with Dad, and it was clear that the hotel was running purely on the business from
its owners – the Laos Government.

The beds looked barely made, the plumbing was run through open holes in the floor, windows were boarded up
and doors partially repaired with plywood.
Dad muttered something about being worse than a Marseilles flop-house – whatever that might mean?
It was not a very enticing option for what we originally had planned as a two night stay.
We ended up at the Naxay GH, a newlybuilt operaton established by the head of Caves' Visitor Centre. A real case of the CP Member indulging in a bit of capitalist enterprise!



Dinner at a Chinese owned restaurant the Xailomyen GH by one of the many man-made lakes whose still waters hid a ghastly secret.



Great location, but not a culinary experience that I could recommend.
Afterwards Dad I watched the end of Die Hard 4 and then bed.

RGun screwed with this post 11-15-2007 at 12:10 PM
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Old 11-15-2007, 01:05 PM   #18
NomadRip
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WOW!! That sounds amazing!!
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NomadRip screwed with this post 11-16-2007 at 02:35 PM
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Old 11-15-2007, 02:22 PM   #19
strikingviking
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Truly Amazing

Get on down little brother! You are about the luckiest guy on earth to have such an incredible adventure so young. Speaking for the rest of readers out here, we can hardly wait to see what you come up with in ten years. We are all proud to know you. Persevere.
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Old 11-15-2007, 02:41 PM   #20
Mr.Moose
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what an amazing adventure for you and your dad to share..
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Old 11-15-2007, 02:44 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RGun
I'd like to see a hi-res version of this if you have it.

Great adventure, and great XRs. I'm jealous!
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Old 11-15-2007, 09:49 PM   #22
beemer boy
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Great job Richard !! A fascinating area to travel in, and I really like seeing it again through young fresh eyes. Here in Chiang Mai we are not really sure if your Dad should be "Dad of the year" for enabling you to go on these terrific trips, or should be arrested for child endangerment.......
I am very impressed you can go from no dirt riding experience , to blasting around the wilds of Laos in one week. Think you have a long adventurous life ahead of you. Look forward to seeing you next year.
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beemer boy screwed with this post 11-16-2007 at 05:23 AM
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:58 AM   #23
GSdreamer
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Incredible!
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Old 11-16-2007, 08:59 AM   #24
eap
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Dee MAk! Choke Dee, dek noi!
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Old 11-16-2007, 12:31 PM   #25
Incredulous
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Very well put together report! Your writting style and observations are very mature for a young man your age. Look forward to the rest.

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Old 11-17-2007, 02:33 PM   #26
Indochine
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I was thinking the same thing, ktrout37. I was also thinking maybe Dad edited the report a bit. Even so, if these are your own words, RGun, my helmet's off to you, my friend, because I think you have a very bright future in writing or whatever you turn your attention to. And you took to trail bikes like a duckling to water. You must have a very fine father, indeed, who can be rightly proud.
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Old 11-17-2007, 03:25 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MotorPsycho Miko
This is what I like about ADVrider- giving me a chance to see places that I will probably never get to ride.
+1, hanging on every word.
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Old 11-17-2007, 04:22 PM   #28
Kevfoley
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Cool report, would love to ride that part of the world some day.!!! will do without those bugs though!
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Old 11-17-2007, 04:44 PM   #29
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April is the hottest month in Thailand and understandably the time the Thais celebrate Songkhran the water festival
celebrating the lunar new year.
In Chiang Mai they stretch a one-day holiday into seven days of water splashing mayhem. (Quote)

My wife is Thai and we were there for Songkhran in 05. Great time to be in Thailand, as you can all see by the photo.
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Old 11-17-2007, 09:19 PM   #30
beemer boy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indochine
I was thinking the same thing, ktrout37. I was also thinking maybe Dad edited the report a bit.
No editing needed !! Dad is a very skilled writer, and his son is a chip off the old block. The year before he had done a trip to southern Laos with his Dad. RGun put together a video of the trip that was the hit of the Horizons Unlimited meeting in Chiang Mai. Not sure if he is simply wise beyond his years, or the English scholastic system is top notch.
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