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Old 09-10-2012, 07:54 PM   #376
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Just a quick update this morning to say, I'm off to Laos again..... once I finish culling the load down to an acceptable level for the KTM 525. The KTM 950 Super Enduro is staying at the Riders Cafe, Chiang Mai, for a while.... along with half my gear. Its time to go somewhat minimalist, albeit still with some camera gear and the computer.

I've added a couple of things - MicroPur filter, two extra front tubes (making it 3 spare fronts and one spare rear), gone lighter with some things... push bike pump instead of electric and I'm leaving behind heaps... over half my clothing, 3/4 the medical crap - I'm even leaving Baabaara, my previously indespensible sheepskin behind.

The seat on the 525 is re-profiled and higher now and there's an extension to the steel strapping to keep the Giant Loop off the exhaust. Justin used a smaller GL bag.



We found a minor issue when servicing the bike... one of the new valve springs had been hitting the head.



A quick session with a die grinder and she's fine



I'll write up my time in Chiang Mai later... but it included an overnight trip to Nan, some time on the local mountain on a hired dirt bike, a five day trip to the China border via Laos... and some local time. Here's a friend, the brunette, playing bass at one of the local clubs...



.... and the whole time I was here, I studiously avoided the girly bars.
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Old 09-11-2012, 07:13 PM   #377
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Don't you just hate that horrible sinking feeling.... when you realise that the glass grinding into pieces beneath your left heel is your eyeglasses. Oops. Good thing I got to the border with a day to spare. I know what I'm doing today... shopping for glasses. I lost my spare set (prescription sunglasses) when the luggage strap busted and my top bag went into the exhaust. This pair was on its second life... third if you include the big chip out of one lens.... having been ridden over in Sumatra. There's no coming back from this one though.

We weren't even rolling drunk....



But first things first.... I got away from Chiang Mai just before midday and it was 4 1/2 hours to the border, with only a quick coffee break and one refuel. This bike uses just a fraction of what the 950 does. I got 23 kilometres per litre... compared to 10 - 15 on the Super Enduro, although to be fair, it would have been closer to 15 on this run.

Roads were good - this is a stop to let a man-drawn "hearse" cross the highway and head up the hill



to badly flood damaged and pot holed. I didn't have too much of a look here, but I think one bridge was washed away and the new one wasn't finished. I was concentrating on the boat... but he wouldn't take me across. That added about 15 km, going back to where I should have detoured and then slogging through the back roads



Which gave me my first taste of mud on this bike. Its soooo much easier on the featherweight...



Which is still carrying too much crap.



I've got some re-jigging to do. I ended up with too much heavy stuff in my small backpack... took it off and strapped it to the tankbag and rested it in my lap after an hour or so. Can't do that offroad. The heavy stuff will go to the Giant Loop from here on.

The bike's sweet spot on the road is 95 kph.... faster than that on the dirt. The vibrations aren't too bad at 95, although the bars just aren't right for me. I need risers... and looked for them in Chiang Mai, but I'd have needed new brake and clutch lines too. I got to Chang Khong with a swollen and aching elbow. Its been a problem for quite a while... hope it holds up. The 950 would have been in its sweet spot anywhere from 25 - 50 kph faster than the 525 on those roads. Can't have it all. I'll take the light weight option this month though. The rivers are swollen and the soil is soaked.

This be the Mekong





I checked in, 350 Baht... fan room in a guesthouse near the customs / passport offices - that's about $10 ...did the shower / thing and wandered over to the cafe where I took the bottom photo for a cleansing ale. Lunch was some fried rice at about 6pm. I jumped on the bike and headed off to find some fuel.... which turned out to be about 4km up the road... and I was riding without a helmet (haven't seen a local wearing one here yet)... fueled up, spotted a lovely massage place and got a brilliant 2 hour, 300 Baht - $9.

Heading back, I spotted a bar with music and a pool table with a few folks, so stopped. Turned out to be a set of three shops owned by the lady on the right here... that's her chef on the left



She's got the bar, a massage shop and a restaurant. I ended up with Chinese vegetables with chicken (which was brilliant) and a beer.... and then got invited to a live music show back up the other end of town. I'd seen plenty of farangs (westerners) wandering around town.... but I was the only one at the music... on a table with 7 lovely ladies

The music was great. No smoking inside, and yeah, I got dragged onto the dance floor. There was a good quartet and then this guy, also good. He's a local cop



The girls massacred a bottle of scotch.






.... and wouldn't let me throw any coin into their bill.




These two work on getting people across the river.



A pleasant evening.... and on that note, I'm going shopping for eyeglasses.
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Old 09-11-2012, 08:02 PM   #378
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Ughh... 5,000 Baht later ($150)... and that's with my "50% discount".... I'll have "eyes" again in an hour.

Couldn't this have waited until Phnom Penh? Glasses were $9 a pair there a couple of years back....
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Old 09-12-2012, 05:44 PM   #379
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My Chiang Mai updates / ride reports will have to wait. I'm in Houang Xai, on the eastern bank of the Mekong. That's in the Golden Triangle, up near the Myanmar border too. Here's the late afternoon view of the Mekong River from my hotel room...



I lashed out and grabbed an upmarket, aircon room with a view... $18, including breakfast.

Here's a closer view of my departure point from Thailand... Chang Khong



I was in the Customs building... first building to the right of the arch... about 20' above the river, getting my paperwork for the bike processed and I commented to the Customs guy "Mekong high"... "Yes, high".... "Does it get much higher?".... he pointed up to the water mark on the wall - up near the ceiling.

I crossed the Mekong 3 times yesterday afternoon... thanks to a dopey Laos soldier - who wanted a copy of the papers from the Thai side... which they never get.

By ferry, with the trucks heading to China



Despite the bow wave, we were making about 2 knots against the current... which must be 10 knots or so



... and twice by longboat, to get a copy of that damn piece of paper





This guy is earning a few Kip (its about 7,500 Kip to the dollar)... washing trucks as they cross. His job will change soon... there's a bridge just about finished.



I like this shot... it shows just how much non-boating Asian folks like the water (not).



Its a big river, but the most impressive thing is its speed. Amazing volume of water headed generally East



Plenty of willy-stiffeners on sale here



I bumped into a group of Malaysian riders, headed home from a trip to Shangri La. I couldn't ride a bike here with boxes like that.... it would mean sitting in the diesel fumes rather than blasting past... one side or the other.



The security staff at the hotel locked the bike up for me... in the foyer, of course.



Meanwhile... its pushing 8am... its been raining for 2 hours, but the sun is shining now. I'm not starting today's ride in the damn rain. Its a full-on dirt ride today, with some bike-on-the-boat travel involved.... and it may be some time before I see internet access again.
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Old 09-14-2012, 07:00 AM   #380
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Phew! Hard to believe I made it back to Luang Prabang without binning it.

http://youtu.be/-4TPzvPAuq0

I'm on sketchy internet... so I can't check whether that's embedded right, or not... but its pretty representative of 7+ hours in the saddle today. Wet from before I got on the bike, Its about 120 km from Hongsa to Luang Prabang via Route 4B. Its a dirt 4WD road known to be often impassable in the wet. Its the road we couldn't get through on 3 weeks ago on the big bikes. I'm damn glad we didn't get up that hill then. I've got some video of the really gnarly stuff, I think... but its in long segments that just aren't possible to upload here. The truck wheel ruts get rain in them and end up 2'+ deep.... and I have to say, it really helped having long legs today.

I did Houay Xai to Hongsa yesterday, including having to backtrack down some singletrack that no longer goes through... and 50km with no clutch... but more of that later.

Just in case that video didn't work... here's a photo from today....



and a couple from yesterday



Here's the KTM doing 65 kmh down the Mekong River...

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Old 09-14-2012, 03:41 PM   #381
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Great stuff Bigfella, keep it coming
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:01 PM   #382
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Shall do then Rob. The brain's awake too damn early, but the body wants more rest. I'll take a look around Luang Prabang today methinks... and try and get some tape on my boots... they were found wanting yesterday



But... let's at least get the Laos pictures into some sort of order....

I set out from Houang Xai a bit later than planned because of the morning rain, but when I hit the dirt, a few km out of town, it was dry and traffic was raising dust



I stopped for a gander at the new Thailland to Laos bridge over the Mekong, not far from town. Won't be long now and the ferries will be gone.



and the immigration / customs won't entail finding two different places in town



The road narrowed down to single lane and followed the Mekong.



I wasn't sure I wanted to get my socks wet (holes in the boots) at the first water crossing in Laos... but did it anyhow.

Five minutes later, I was in water above my knees.

Not a bad track



Pulling up near a school and taking photos of kids in Oz is a no no. Here, the kids (and teachers) love it.



That's a pretty standard school... tin roof, half open walls

Heading down to the bank of the Mekong - time to jump a boat for a 20km trip down and across the river....



I found this bloke in his shed... building a wooden boat.



His one tool... a machete



Couldn't see a set of plans anywhere... it all just happens.
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Old 09-14-2012, 05:53 PM   #383
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Damn... having problems with getting my photos in here.

Here's those boots...



and that piddly little water crossing where they started being perpetually wet again (like they were on Cape York)




So... here I am... on the riverside with boats galore and no boat guys... but they knew what was happening and soon showed up



I tried bartering with the guy... no go. It was 1000 Baht.... and given there were two of them (three plus me for the lift aboard)... and they did the return journey without a load, $30 wasn't too bad. Just on that issue of Baht (Thai money) and Kip (Laos money)... plenty of places in Laos take Baht... near the border and in the tourist towns.

So... here's my transport... a wooden skow, powered by a lovely sounding Toyota 16v four.. running on LPG.



Here's what they look like at speed



We lifted her in and I grabbed a shot while they figured out the ropes.



Not that the ropes did much... you couldn't compress the forks or you'd be pulling the bottom out of the boat. The boat owner was loving it... no way in the world was he letting me on the bike... he wanted that job.



It was lovely, blasting downriver at 65kph (about 50 for the boat and another 15 for the fast flowing river). We pulled into the other bank at Pakop if I remember correctly.



A bit of grunting and slip sliding away up the bank and I pulled up behind the local freight interchange...

There's not much OH&S here. Those drums coming down the bank in the background were full too...



Here's the view back upriver



The workers were grabbing a bite, so I did too.





Not bad for $3. (23,000 Kip)



It wasn't just a restaurant, but a shop... and yep, home too. There's the bedroom and there was a small, old TV behind that woman



I was on the right side of the river now, heading for Hongsa. Justin, who I'd bought the bike off, had said to find accom. if it was after 2pm when I got to Paksop. It was 1pm... so, off I went.



The old slash and burn is still the order of the day up here



Can't say I've ever seen a factory made out of plastic shade cloth before...



It ponged a bit. Looked like some sort of root vegetable processing plant.



The villages were all small... some with modern roofing, like this one, but its still a walk out of town for a bath and to do the laundry



Road conditions varied... but at least it was dry



"What did you do at school today Dear?"... Well Ma, I brought home a big bit of bamboo...





That's B. Na One Cultural Village off in the distance



Pretty typical water crossing



.... and you have to love the local kids, playing "shop".



It pays to keep your eyes open. I was scooting along in 6th but decided to slow down for this one...



Topped up here. Ended up having the bike die on me later on. Probably from a water crossing, but who knows? When I finally made it to bitumen, I got into it a bit... and it farted, backfired and totally died. I switched to reserve, checked the fuel filter and it started, I dunno? All the carby breathers have t pieces and run both ways, so she's not likely to pick it up there, but the airbox on the 525 is a disaster relative to the Super Enduro. The 950 can deal with double the water depth.



.... and just after that fuel stop, the fun started
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Old 09-14-2012, 07:11 PM   #384
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So... a few km down the road, at this stage a perfectly good two lane truck road, the GPS says "turn left"... up here...



Yeah, OK... and after a couple of "Oh that's interesting" moments with washed out, rocky ruts, I ended up going up the ridge line, until...



OK, so back to that fork in the trail... and up it...



This was as far as I got up there. Steep enough to have lifted a wheel and ended up double-rutted and going nowhere.



Damn photos never show how steep it is eh? Anyhow, I cleared some logs off the track and had a go pushing with it in gear... no go... dragged it around and headed back to that apparent blockage.

Got a bit further



But at this stage, the GPS was still showing 750 metres to the next road....



It was dark in there.... this is a flash photo



I dragged it back around and discovered it was time to let the tyres down... didn't go too far down with the pressure, but was able to push the bike back up. Got to the top, jumped on and discovered ... no clutch. OK... lets not deal with that up here... so I rode the 4km or so back down without stopping. Lovely views from up there





I didn't stop at the bottom when I got onto the good road.. did 20-30 km without the clutch, nice riding, lots of streams etc.

Here's the other end of that "track" - still an access point apparently, as a local had his bike there, but all the vegetation was at least 3m high.



I must remember to change over to "shortest time" from "shortest distance" at some stage.

Nice scenery, of course.



This bridge experience and eventually enough rocks appeared for me to stop and pump up the rear tyre.



I was on the wrong track on the bridge, because of a pedestrian, but another bike appeared. Not having a clutch meant I didn't want to try and change tracks... so... I found some shade.



The clutch issue looks like a leak at the slave cylinder. I'd had to top it up in Chiang Mai. II didn't have time to get one, so, I'm carrying a bottle of Johnson's Baby Oil. Being a dingbat, all my tools were in the bottom of my bag. At least I'd packed the oil and pump somewhere easy. I used the Leatherman to get the mastercylinder open, filled up and pumped the clutch enough to get me started again without bleeding it. For the next 30 km or so, every now and then I'd pump away at the clutch until I got pressure ... and then leave it. Sure enough, the air bled to the top and I've got a clutch again without needing to bleed it.... btw, the essential tools are now packed higher... Pump, saw, clutch bleed spanner and plug spanner.

The road was pretty chopped up over the mountains







Plenty of rockfalls.... it wouldn't be Laos without rockfalls and landslides



Typical Laos scene... lots of people walking.



Its nice bitumen from maybe 10km or a bit more from Muang Nguen (the border crossing I used last time I came in... which I haven't written up yet) I headed down towards the border, but 1km short, a rain squall turned me around. Didn't need to get wet to see something I'd seen before.

Something you don't see every day... although I have two days in a row now...



I'd stopped and gotten a more distant photo of this last time, but this time I decided to try and ride in. I got past the first checkpoint



But they got all serious at the next barrier and rolled out the barricades. Wouldn't let me in



That's a Thai 1400Mw coal-fired power station being built in Laos. There'd be some interesting deals behind that.

I stayed at the Souphaphone GH again and ate at the nice restaurant Phil had introduced me to 3 weeks earlier. I got invited over to a table of Lao people. It turned out they were all taxi drivers and community workers. The guy who invited me over had lived 27 years in New Zealand, been back 5 years... now marred to a 23 year old and has a 4 year old kid (he's 51). "You can do that in Laos" says he. I should point out, its illegal for foreigners and Laos people to have sex. 6 months gaol / jail. It bucketted down while we were eating... really poured... and the taxi guys gave me a free ride back to the guest house.... and I've now got his phone number and the offer of phone help if I get stuck.
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Old 09-15-2012, 09:10 PM   #385
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Now here's where I make things difficult for myself... because the present has caught up to the past... or something like that. I'd been to Hongsa 3 weeks ago and here I was back there again... and I haven't posted up the first trip yet.

The first trip was a 5 day ride from Chiang Mai to the Thai/ Laos border north of Nan to Mueang Ngeun, overnight at Hongsa, tried to get to Luang Prabang via the "dirt" road, Route 4B... ended up sliding backwards down a hill 30km in, turned around and got there via Xayaburi.

I think its best if I write that up first, to show why I ended up back here on this bike... I've just had to stay over an extra day in Luang Prabang to wait on a report to review.... So... this is the new bike in its element.



There's undoubedly folks out there who'd have got the 950SE up there.... maybe, but certainly not me. More on that later though. I'll mix some of Phil's riding photos in, as they show the 950SE (and me), but I won't borrow his people shots. He's got some great ones over on the rideasia.net site that he helps run.

First up, The route





Bit of a wet ride through Thailand



But some nice dry twisties too



Border formalities... Thai side



I had some "issues". I didn't have a Temporary Import Permit for the bike... but I could show its Oz registration and so on. In the end, the customs guy gave me what amounted to a Temporary Export Permit.... which he wanted me to hand in when I came back. WTF? That'd just perpetuate the problems. But... just smile, say thanks and off we went...

Laos soldiers made us leave our bikes parked here and walk down to the Customs building,



There's been a few deaths on these roads lately... Thailand drives on the left, Laos on the right.... so its all swap at the border.

We rode the 30km or so to Hongsa and checked in. I'll lump all my Hongsa photos in together, to save travelling the same place twice...

Here's the 1400Mw Thai-owned coal fired power station being built just outside town



First time there, we didn't try to get in, but I gave it a go this time. Got past the first checkpoint

But it got theatrical at the next one... a big show of rolling out the barricades and a bit of arm waving and pointing by one guard. I smiled and rode off



Down at the market, there was some tasty grub on offer. Oops, hang on, that grub is grubs....



and baby eels



Second time around two days ago, there was a lot more bushmeat on offer.

Dead forest birds



Live river birds. A pair of young Bittens that never made it off the nest on their own



A couple of dead Giant Squirrels



I've seen plenty of them btw... but these seem redder in colour. I could've sworn one that ran across in front of me the other day was bluish.

Frogs anyone? What size and colour would you like? In bulk? In meal-sized plastic bags... hundreds of them



The fish ranged from this



to big cut up river monsters that must've been more than 4' long when caught.

Plenty of butchered meat, hooves, offal and all









I dunno what it was... presumably sun-dried





How's this for a hat?



G'day



I've seen a few different types of claw on sale. A bear claw up on the China Border was offered to me for 6000 Yuan - about $1,000. This one was offered to me for "2"... presumably 200,000 Kip - under $30.



Plenty of them. I've also seen tiger teeth and claws, but I'm wondering what else there might be? I think there's some arboreal mammal - I'll do some research. No... I'm not buying.



I was tempted here. No space to carry though...



I'll digress a tad... shot this in Hongsa, but they are everywhere. I've seen brand new chassis for sale beside the road, through to ancient ones. Just bolt in your cheap Chinese diesel and off you go... 4WD. Oh, off you go... slowly.



Market inspection(s) over, we saddled up and tried our luck at Route 4B to Luang Prabang. The turnoff is about 10km out on the Xayaburi road.

Not far in, there was this quaint old bridge



I say "was" for a reason. Same scene two days ago



It absolutely bucketted down in Hongsa when I was there the other night. Trapped me in a restaurant for hours, until a table of taxi drivers called me over for a chat... and eventually gave me a free ride "home". It was enough to flood up over the rice here and the bridge was washed away.

Not to worry... the almost finished bridge 3 weeks ago



is now fully operational.

Here's what its like riding over these.... this one was a good one compared to another one I've done.

sorry... I'm not sure if its embedded, but here's trying, along with a link to the video

... edited to try one last time... and yeah... I've read the instructions... at least I know the link below will work...




http://youtu.be/80aXPR_OVGs

... back with more, soon.
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Old 09-15-2012, 09:45 PM   #386
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Hi Bigfella, are you going through Huai Noun , Nang Lew way or further north through Thanoun. I'm watching with interest in the conditions, I'll be there next month
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Old 09-15-2012, 10:06 PM   #387
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Oops... the post poofing bug just bit me again. Now... where was I?

That bridge and its replacement is why I'm keen to be in Laos now, not in five years time. Change is rolling down from the north and in from the west.

So, we headed in on the dirt... which turned to mud.



If it wasn't mud, it was damn greasy clay... both times. The third member of our group was Adrian, from Bellingen, just a hop skip and jump from where I grew up (and Bellingen is where my grandparents lived). Small world eh? Met him in Chiang Mai. Adrian's a damn good dirt rider... but here he was on a rented Versys, in the clay, on street tyres.



He did bin it once on the clay... but I haven't got the evidence



It was so damn slippery that going downhill Phil and I were having to pull the clutch in to stop the engine braking sending us sideways

Speaking of sideways... I was in the lead coming down here, spotted the crash marks from a local rider and was going dead slow. Adrian came whistling past, unable to stop... but did about 15' ahead of me... and I pulled up next to him and then Phil arrived at a rate of knots.... with nowhere to go





Look at it this way Phil... you might have gone over the edge if I hadn't forced you to grind to a halt in the ditch.

Going back down through that corner two days ago, it was "school's out" time and the kids from the village were racing me down the hill. I really needed that... a swarm of kids all around me on a greasy corner.

There's a river at the bottom, not too deep



and another lovely bridge...



I rode the bridge on the 525... and videoed it, but the lens was misted up. I might edit a clip out of it when I get home.

We stopped for a drink in the village and heard a truck coming, so were thinking we'd be OK... until we saw it



Some locals





This is as far as Adrian got...



... and this is as far as I got, this far above him, before I started sliding backwards down the hill



We turned tail and headed back to the tar at that stage... but not without incident. Same corner that claimed Phil on the way down got him on the way back.



Helping him pick it up was when I decided it wasn't going to be smart to be in these conditions on my own on a big bike



.... so, here I am, three weeks later, on the KTM 525. That hill over the other side there is as far as we got on the big bikes



I stopped in the village for a drink again... bought a couple of orange juices and after I'd finished one, noticed a kid helping herself to the dregs of it... so, gave her the last third of my second one... then nailed that nasty hill.

We'd never have made it without pushing each bike the whole way.... and then repeating that and repeating that.... itd take days and a lot of energy to get big bikes through.

It was hard enough on the 525.

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Old 09-15-2012, 10:25 PM   #388
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Even on the flat it was a bit nasty



It'd started raining just as I left Hongsa on the 525 and I ended up in the clouds. It sure made it greasy. I was at 90 degrees to my intended direction when I took this shot



.... but that's the easy stuff... on the flat. The hills were gnarly. The ruts were cut out further by the rain and some of them were 750mm deep. Not nice to see them coming up... "am I on the right bit of track... or not".

My boots failed me...



I hadn't seen a living thing for an hour when I came across this scene



I said G'day to some guys up on the bank, sitting around a fire, then went up to have a look. Oops.



I ended up with it...



.... they were keen to see if I had cigarettes. Sorry guys... I gave up the ciggies when they stunted my growth.

From there on, conditions eased up a bit... but bloody hell, those four hills marked on the GPS are "interesting"... I ended up doing a lot of the down sections with the engine off.... just sliding down slowly

I started to see people again. No school for this lot...



or here





There's one of those claws again



All the kids there were chewing on those green lemons or limes



The Victoria's Secrets sales staff hasn't found this territory yet



Lots of kids were running around with a pet cricket. This poor thing was a hell of a lot bigger than a cricket...





I last used one of these before most people on this planet were born

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Old 09-15-2012, 10:44 PM   #389
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Location: Dooral Dooral, Eastern Oz
Oddometer: 2,102
A couple of women beside the road...





Which had improved out of sight



Lots more villages, more afflluent ones too



I met three guys from Bangkok on D-Trackers with knobbies. I gave what I thought was a reasonable assessment of the road ahead, told them they couldn't get through before dark and suggested they wave some Kip around in one of the villages. I scared them when I told them they'd have to let their tyres down to get through.... they weren't carrying a pump. WTF? I didn't do anything to change their mind, but I hope they turned around. They'd taken 3 hours to get to there ..... and I did it in 1 1/2 after I left them - including waiting for the ferry. The stuff they'd just done was a doddle compared to up in the mountains. I wonder if they're still there?.... at least they could walk out just as fast as they could ride out I guess.



If you come across them... let me know how they got on please.

There were four river crossings between meeting them and Luang Prabang. I walked all but the supposed deepest one, which I just rode through because the locals were walking it. One of the earlier ones was deeper and 3 locals on scooters got stranded as I was riding the other way. I didn't stop, because there was a village there... and there were enough of them









a "made" one



Here's one of those water crossings. Check out the sinkhole at the end as I wheelie past it. Wouldn't have pulled the wheelie if I'd spotted it....



Crossing the Mekong, yet again, by ferry





It was 7 hours for 120 kilometres... moving average of 28kph according to the GPS.... and I was somewhat knackered.... especially my arms and hips... which had done a lot of work. I'm quite frankly amazed that 1) I made it, 2) I didn't bin it and 3) my lower limbs survived.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:20 PM   #390
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Joined: Apr 2010
Location: Dooral Dooral, Eastern Oz
Oddometer: 2,102
So... that got me to Luang Prabang... and a couple of days rest and a few touristy things.

Don't you hate it when some idiot walks into the frame at just the wrong moment?



We'll have no similar comments about this shot... The lovely ladies are from Chile



Lot of water going through here at present



Some idiot slipped on the "trail" going back down from the top of the waterfall and dropped his bag... which contained his passport, registration and numberplate, SPOT transponder, phone, GPS... etc.



Bit of a landslide happened just after this. The bag got retrieved about 50' down the "hill"side.



Another one from back up at the top. It was rather slippery, so people were being a bit careful. Its about 100' to the next step down.



Down a bit further







Watch out for the bears though. Yeah... they are behind a fence.



Who needs freeboard?




How many snakes can you get in one bottle of booze?



There's a lot of this beautiful timber around here. They are 12" flooring boards



It isn't every day you find 100' boats on the back streets



Love the turnbuckles



I just missed the last race, but I think I counted 53 people in one of the boats





A victory lap



... I'm the Boss lap



Overloading? Never





.... and she's not making pocket money... she's earning her family's income. I watched her pick one bottle up and drink the dregs.



I ran a bit later than planned yesterday morning due to the rain.A quick check of the bike... tyre pressures, filled the clutch, oiled the chain, checked the oil... threw the bags on and it was off to Phonsovan

The rest of the earlier trip up to Boten on the China border can wait. Internet is a bit difficult now, and its only going to get worse from here.

I did the ride from Luang Prabang to Phonsavan in 9 hours... all but the first five or so and last 44km is dirt... or mud.

Here's the route

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