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Old 04-05-2015, 11:00 PM   #1
beemer boy OP
Oh no, he's gone Asian
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Joined: Jul 2003
Location: Chiang Mai , Thailand
Oddometer: 879
Laos, a MTX 200, and Lima 20.....

My friend Joe was in America, and wanted to come over for some riding. We have done many rides together in the past.
The idea was to do a loop up over to Laos, back to Thailand, drop down to Cambodia, then back to Thailand.
I was riding a 1983 MTX 200 which I restored last year. It is a two stroke with lots of power..... To leave on this trip, I never touched the bike to get it ready. I just strapped on a bag, and took off....So first segment for me was a non stop ride of 900 kilometers from Pattaya to Chiang Mai where I would meet Joe. He is riding his XR 250. A rest stop along the way. And yes there are a lot more straps underneath the rain cover holding the bag onto the bike.. :-)

Getting near to Chiang Mai, there is a sort of pass which has a lot of little statues and spirit houses for good luck.
No idea why there are zebras in the mix.......

A few days in Chiang Mai catching up with old friends, and then off to Laos. A pretty painless border crossing , and then
head for Luang Prabang the same day. We elected to take the shorter dirt cross over road near
to Hongsa. Met a fellow Canadian motorcycle traveler on one of those toy KSR 110 bikes with little wheels. The last
time I was on the road it was pretty good, and I was on a fully loaded Africa Twin at the time. So near the turn off
the guy asked me about the short cut. I said it was a good road. Now remember he is asking this question of
two guys that are on serious dirt bikes......Anyway the road was pretty bad from zero maintenance. A piece of cake for
us however... Along the way, Joe on an easy stream crossing.

Finally reach the ferry crossing to Luang Prabang. Just as the ferry is about to leave, amazingly enough the guy
on the KRS rolls up. He must have been hammering to be able to catch us... I asked him what he thought of the
road. He was really pissed off, and told me in an angry tone I had done three years of wear and tear on his bike
from that road. So I guess no more free road travel advice from me....

One night in Luang Prabang, then off to Phonsavan for the next night. Next day, the windy road to Xam Nua.
Keep tight to your side of the
road, as the local vehicles swing wide into your lane. I knew that, and still had a few close calls... Got into there in the afternoon so had time to shoot up to the Pathet Lao cave area. This is where the Laos revolutionary government hid
from American bombing. A very pretty area.

The house for the leader. They would stay in the houses, and when the bombs started dropping they would run into
the caves. The house of course was right next to the cave entrance. There was a period of intense bombing where
they stayed in the caves for an extended time.

Inside the caves. A sealed door with an air pump pulling through a filter in case of a chemical attack.

A pretty serious blast wall protecting the entrance to one of the caves

Here is a position where an anti aircraft gun was placed. The black is the gunpowder residue. It is a steep climb
up from the cave.

A Russian vehicle. Think it was amphibious , but would not stake my life on it...

Next morning we departed in the dark at 6:00 AM to head up towards Lima site 85 . A fascinating part of the Vietnam war.
It used to be a really road winding through the jungle. Now it is a massive road construction project. Have no idea
why, as the road basically goes to nowhere...

Contractor was doing some blasting along the way. Blasting times were posted , but we still paid attention to any
possible work occurring above the road....

As we get near, you can now see Lima 85 in the distance. You can clearly see why America picked this site to place a radar
for directing bombing runs into Hanoi . It is naturally nearly impregnable. When the Vietnamese attacked it, they had to cut their own path up.

This is the fork at Houyma. The left fork goes a few hundred meters into Houyma. The right fork goes towards
Pathi which is at the base of Lima 85. However you cannot go.....A few hundred meters up the right fork is a pretty serious
military camp. Another trip we went that way, and were questioned and detained for several hours. Nobody knows
what the camp is protecting. Am guessing either opium growing or illegal logging.

So next day, back to Phonsavan. Then over to Vang Vieng. This is an absolute mandatory stop on the Asia backpacker trail.
It used to be pretty nice, but now is just jammed with people. Sort of a shame, as it is a really pretty area.
Next morning wheels rolling at 5:30 in the morning, as our goal was to reach the fabled site of Lima 20. It was pitch dark,
the headlights on our bikes were crap, there was fog, and to add to the fun, a lot of dust thrown up by the trucks.
Made for a really nasty ride until the sun finally showed up.
Lima 20 was the main base for CIA operations in Laos. At its peak 50,000 people lived there, and it was one of the
busiest airports in the world. It has always been absolutely off limits to outside people, and well guarded. We had tried
in the past to get there from the northern access but were questioned and turned back. Now apparently the governor of the area has opened it up, and you can ride right in !! More information here.
So on a long and rocky road , we cut off the main highway and head east towards Xaysomboun. A lot of dams are being
built so the road is pretty good. So a bit before Xaysomboun we take the cutoff road that head towards Long Cheng, which is where Lima 20 is located. On the way in, road is pretty good due to mining activities in the area.
Never thought I would lay eyes on this sign....

About 15 kilometers before the base , trouble starts....
Due to the road construction, the road has a lot of bull dust on it. Then that morning was a heavy rain. It made for one of the nastiest road surfaces I have ever ridden on. Sort of like trying to stay upright on gooey ice.

Sliding sideways on a very slight incline. Supposed to be heading to the right...

The mud was a bit sticky. It jammed up the rear wheel, had to find a stick and poke the mud out to allow the wheel to spin.

You can see the knobs are not really doing a whole lot of good...

Adventure footwear... My riding boots had died from excessive water immersion from a previous jungle ride.
Not easy to find size 14 riding boots in Asia, so just took a pair of leather shoes. Was not really planning on doing
any hardcore offroad. :-( So here you see their death, hastened by the muddy road from hell. I threw them away,
and rode the entire rest of the trip in open sandals.

Finally myself and Joe standing on the runway at Lima 20. This is a photo you have not seen before.... :-)

As we certainly did not want to go back the same way, we opted to head north to Phonsavan on the other entrance
to the base. While at the base, some very friendly military guys came over and wanted us to go to their office
with them. So they just asked a few questions , took down our passport information, and wished us good luck
on our trip.

Here on the road north. You can just see the backs of the two small peaks that are at the end of the runway. The peaks were referred to as vertical speed brakes.....

So back to Phonsavan just beating darkness. I was completely trashed, just fell into bed and zombied out......
The next day was a long ride to Vientiane. Joe was on a short vacation, so we were blasting along. The following
day rode to Surin in southeast Thailand. Then crossed the border into Cambodia, planning on a one day ride to
Phnom Penh. Turned out there was a 100 kilometer road project which made for a hellish ride. On a narrow part
of a construction bypass road, a car came straight at me. I just missed by inches crashing off the road as I was forced
up on a loose dirt berm. A great meal in Phnom Penh, and then onto Sihanoukville . One night there, and then a quick
blast back home to Pattaya. Joe then flew out the next day.
Overall a great trip. Total distance for me was about 5000 kilometers, all done on a two stroke dirt bike. The bike
is a 32 year old antique, and it performed flawlessly the entire trip. If it failed to start on the first kick, it was because
I had left the kill switch in the off position .
If you can't pick it up by yourself, it is not an adventure bike.

beemer boy screwed with this post 04-06-2015 at 02:55 AM
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Old 04-06-2015, 12:57 AM   #2
Gnarly Adventurer
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
Oddometer: 321
You lucky guys! Looks like a great ride. Enjoy! I'll be watching!
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Old 04-06-2015, 01:35 AM   #3
grand poobah
Joined: May 2011
Location: palm harbor, fla
Oddometer: 1,744
great stuff!..... more please?....
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Old 04-07-2015, 08:43 AM   #4
beemer boy OP
Oh no, he's gone Asian
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Joined: Jul 2003
Location: Chiang Mai , Thailand
Oddometer: 879
Bike damage:
1. Blown right fork seal
2. Broken mount for left side stand off rack
3. Tank had to repainted from excessive fuel that ran down the side of it
after a fill up then a coffee break.
4. Headlight bulb and tail light bulbs destroyed from the rough roads. For night riding
the stator would power the low beam headlight and the turn signals.
So would leave on the right turn signal so as not to be rammed from behind.
5. Low oil indicator for the two stroke oil tank failed
6. Total electrical system failure. The power wire for the ignition snapped off
at the base of the ignition switch. Good thing an old two stroke bike has
no need of the power system, and runs perfectly without it.
7. Tires a bit bald, to be expected after a rough 5000 kilometer trip

But overall the bike performance was pretty impressive. We were moving fast,
so no time to stop at a small friendly motorcycle shop to have things fixed. I
figured as long as the bike kept making forward progress, I would fix everything
back home. Which I have just done today. I break them, and then I fix them...
Two days after getting back, I took the bike out bar hopping. Somewhat drunk
on the ride home, the bike starts sputtering and dies. So there I am in the dark
with a dead bike. Even in my somewhat weakened state, I deduced that since the
bike always seemed to run perfectly , only a fouled spark plug would stop the bike.
So I took out factory tool kit I had bought as a lark, pulled out a new spark plug
which anyone with a two stroke bike carries, changed it out to the amusement of
some nearby bar patrons, fired it right up, and rode home in style....
If you can't pick it up by yourself, it is not an adventure bike.
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Old 04-07-2015, 07:47 PM   #5
Comrade Art
Working stiff
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Joined: Sep 2006
Location: Oregon
Oddometer: 597
Looks like you guys had a good time. Thanks for the mini history lesson regarding Lima 85 and Long Tieng
Vietnam Adventure Oregon BDR Arizona BDR
"All human beings by nature desire to know" Aristotle
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