|11-29-2012, 06:23 AM||#31|
Joined: Jan 2012
Ho Chi Minh Trail
Man I miss the fast connection.......feel like I got to rush, sorry for the last double text..
I got the boys up real early and we were on the road by 6.30 AM another beautiful morning in the making.
Heading East from Thakhek it's about 60k's to the first stop of the day for breakfast and a quick look at an old SAM missile.
After our morning feed it's back on the road for another 30k's passed a bombed out bridge and then we turn right of onto the trails.
The Guys are really pumped about doing this part of the trail, the guy they hired the bikes of told them to stay away as they don't have the experience required to take it on, my thought where that I had done it solo last year and it was my first trail riding experience so if we stick together and take our time all will be fine.
Last year Laos had had a really long rainy season so it was muddy and wet, this year it was dry as a bone and the dust was thick. I set of and told them to give me a few minutes to let the dust settle and that they should do like wise or choke on the dust, if I was making a turn I would wait for them. This section of trail is about 30k's and brings you back out near the Mu Gai pass a nice little trail with no river crossings.
It was so much easier than last year, the river beds were dry and there was only a few rocky sections.
This is what I came for I'm not really interested in the tourist spots so I'm in my element just plodding along and keeping upright, after a while I stop to wait for Chris&David.
No problems apart from the dust we are having a ball so we press on. When I arrive at the next village which signals the end of that trail I pull over and wait again, it's a great spot.
Time for a rest and a cool down.
Village life, so peaceful
After about 20 mins I'm wondering where they are eventually they turn up smothered in dust, Dave had had a small of but he was fine, infarct he was delighted to have taken a tumble on the trail and lived to tell the tale. after a little break we head of again there is a couple of places I want to show them, one is an old choke point and the other is a small field of bomb craters, then onto a village to try and find some war scrap which was gone but it did turn up this little river crossing.
The local were enjoying the sun playing in the river, wish we joined them as the midday sun was very hot.
The boys crossing the bridge on the way out.
Time to leave the trail and find a lunch stop up near the pass, on the way we met a MAG team so we stopped to talk as this is part of the reason I'm here. Meet Dalawang she was in charge of this site which we could not walk down to.
The rest of the team where having a lunch break, look like they were laying cables to detonate what ever they had found.
A few pictures with the boss.
The bombing stats for Laos are incredible, it's hard to get your head around them especially as the war was in Vietnam!!
Lao PDR is the most heavily bombed country, per capita, in history
Approximately 25% of villages in Laos are contaminated with Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)
More than 580,000 bombing missions were conducted over Laos
Over 2 million tons of ordnance were dropped on Laos between 1964 and 1973
Cluster sub munitions or ‘Bombies’ (as they are known locally) are the most common form of UXO remaining
More than 270 million bombies were dropped onto Laos
Up to 30% failed to detonate
Approximately 80 million unexploded bombies remained in Laos after the war
All 17 provinces of Laos suffer from UXO contamination
41 out of the 46 poorest districts in Laos have UXO contamination
Over 50,000 people have been killed or injured as a result of UXO accidents in the period 1964 -2008
Over 20,000 people have been killed or injured as a result of UXO accidents post war period, 1974-2008
UXO Lao works in the nine most heavily UXO contaminated provinces in the country.
UXO Lao needs on an average, US$6.5 million, for operations. It employs over 1,000 people
We said our goodbyes and headed of for lunch, we were all very hot and dusty.
A very happy but hot Chris
After lunch we headed for the Mu Gia pass to check out the views over Vietnam at the customs point.
The boys arriving at the summit.
It had been a great day and the boys were happy to have ridden a price of History, both vowing to return next year for more, we blasted back to Thakhek and enjoyed the last evening together before the boys went to Thailand, we ended up having chips for tea as that was all we could really find, a tiring but great day.
I enjoyed your company boys, the twist was I ended up going back to Thailand as well to sort the bike and myself out, just waiting on some paper work and I'm heading back to Laos
Steve canyon screwed with this post 11-30-2012 at 12:51 AM
|12-12-2012, 10:22 PM||#32|
Joined: Jan 2012
Ban Laboy Ford
It's been a while since an update but for various reasons but today I have time so here it is, I arrived back in Thailand around the 25th Nov a bit earlier than I expected but an old friend had arrived earlier than expected and was keen to get things moving. I jumped on a plane and flew up to Chaing Mai to check out a Hotel my friend is looking at buying, I'm not a Hotelier all I know about Hotels is that people pay to stay there and generally moan about something after, but as it's going to be on a biking theme he thought I might have some input which would help.
After a few days in CM it was time for me to get back to Laos, unfortunately the paper work I required took longer than expected, I should have known better as everything in Thailand takes longer so the best thing to do is add a day and then double it and then start planning from there, I got my papers on the 1st Dec and planned my escape leaving first light on the 3rd my destination was Ban Laboy Ford the most bombed piece of real estate in the world to date.
It had taken me 2 years to get there last year 2 attempts were abandoned airing on the side of caution so this time I would ensure it all went to plan, I rode 1500k's in 6 days over the hardest terrain I had ever encountered dawn till dusk most days lots of blisters and lots of pain but I made it......
Monday 3rd December 2012 and this is how my day looked out of my back door.
I had gotten the bike ready the evening before, I'm travelling really light this time the bare minimum, that means no razor and 1 change of clothes, survival kit and spares for the bike which I had serviced prior to leaving, no route was planned just get down there with a little tarmac as possible.
I headed up Nong Khai border crossing which is about 160k's from my House arriving there about 10am, it was very busy. This would turn out to be a real pain in the backside, 4 hrs I took me due to paper work and other issues which would raise their heads on the Laos side of the border. I was taken aside and asked what my plans where and who was travelling in the group, what group? I'm on my own. Soon it became clear to them that they had the wrong end of the stick and gave me a big apology for wasting my time, when I asked them why they stopped I was stunned....more about that later!.
So I'm over the fence and into Laos but my day is ruined so the best thing I can do is get the bike pinned and try to make up time on the Tarmac, I made it down to Pakxan and found a hotel for the night got some food and relaxed so I could be ready for the morning, lots of Vietnamese in this town.
Tuesday 4th Dec.
Up bright a early and I'm heading south toward route 12, then I will turn of the highway on to the dirt, which started like this, fast gravel...
Then it turned into the hard packed mud with big pot holes and surface to rattle your fillings. So I was glad to stop and talk with the MAG guys.
One of the ladies was pregnant but still working hard. Guess that's the next generation of De-miners.
Time to press on, this road was hell with no rest from the pot holes,dust and bone shaking holes which seemed never ending, the dust from the oncoming traffic was like fog and I often found myself stopping, so when I saw this little place I thought it would be nice place for lunch.
I had the normal lunch which consisted of tinned fish and sweet things washed down with water. The guys in the truck stopped and watched me for a while, I suppose they think who's the loony!
After a while a little girl appeared from out of the bushes and came over, "Hello Mr", she spoke good English and asked me the usual round of questions, I asked her if I could have a picture and she hopped up onto the bike immediately.
She then insisted on taking me picture before wishing me good luck, what a lovely young lady I wish her well too.
Back to the trails.
My Aim was to get to Villabouri for the night as this would get me very close to the Target, although it was a hard trail the views keep you going.
The Lifan was taking a real pounding and so was I, so rest stops became more frequent.
This little shop was another good stop, friendly people. The little lady was impressed with my camel pack which made her laugh heartily. Mum was enjoying having her picture taken and I was happy to cool down and watch the children play.
Time to hit the road again as I get closer the trails start becoming remote all the trails here are part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail net work and I start to recognize things from last year.
This bridge has improved a lot from last year.
I'm starting to loose the light so no more pictures, but soon I come out on a trail I was on last year I will never forget mud up to the axles, rivers and nasty rocks, the light Lifan made easy work of them and soon I was on a new graded section, it's true the trail is being covered over and electricity is coming to town, last year this section took me hrs this year I'm blasting along at 60k's hr arriving at the same hotel I stayed in last year, even got the same chalet...4.a good omen?, or a bad one, guess tomorrow will tell, so its food early to bed and bags ready for the of , I will stay here 2 night so the trip to the ford is done with as little gear as possible, survival and spares only.
Wed 5th December.
I'm up at 6am I cant tell you how excited I am, 2 years of planning have got me here, I have completely immersed myself in Laos history and the Secret war, much has been written and one of my favorite pieces comes form this web site, Ed the author of the site Talkingproud.us has written some great stuff about Ban Laboy Ford and I have used it in my research, along with some great books my favorite being "The Ravens" and another "Shooting at the Moon".Check Ed's site out if you wish to learn more.
Ban Laboy Ford back in the day
Picture with kind permission from Edward Marek Talkingproud.us
So we are off heading back on the same trails as last year, this year the rainy season was not to wet so the trails are dry, last year it was a bog. Back through the same villages it all recognizable to me, this time I have the drift camera on and manged to catch the whole ride on Video which I will post once I have sussed out to edit video. This is how my day is looking beautiful trails not to hot...
I'm thinking this is to easy and I will cover the 50k's in no time. Time for a little rest.
After about 40k's the trail started to get harder and it appeared the easy day was over.
The rocky slope got steeper and steeper as the rocks got bigger, traction was hard to find and if I stopped it was really hard to get going again. I had a couple of off's and the camera didn't get much use. Four Vietnamese guys on Honda waves came the other way and gave me the finger, they all had video or cameras mounting on the bikes, not very friendly. The Last section of the rock pile nearly killed me the video captures my pain really well, when I got to the top the view where incredible and the pain etched on my face, it was the hardest ride I had ever done and I still had 4 k's to go.
The top insight, with some guy watching me, he disappeared when I got there.
It took me about 20 minutes to calm my breathing down but what a great spot, then it a flattened out a bit and the views change also.
Then I found this...I stayed away from it looked intact.
I pressed on and the trail got a easier mostly down hill but lots of big holes and ruts and then like magic the famous Ford of Ban Laboy was right in front of me.
What a beautiful spot although I don't think the North Vietnamese picked it for that reason it's remoteness was the reason. It must have been so hard back then to get up and down to the ford especially with B 52 bombers pounding it, the rainy season would surely close it. I had made it.
I had my lunch here and just sat and pondered what had happened here, took a couple of souvenir rocks and a million photos. Upstream..
It was time to head back and there were a few things I wanted to check out on the way back, one was Target Charlie and alpha and a Choke point.
The first was a choke point, this would be a point on the Trail where traffic merged on it's way up and down the trails the land around the Village is pop marked with craters, the vegetation has grown some what but you can see the landscape is not normal.
That's the first Choke done so I now head for Target Alpah & Charlie which looked like this back in the day.
It was about 20ks and time to make some new friends.
The boys were cutting down trees, very happy indeed guess the new trailer came from the wood they cut, nice wheels dude....Then I passes through another village, last time there were bombs every where but these 2 in the same place and the others cleared up.
Spot the bomb in this picture? it's under the beer crates.
Then it's onto the next Village
I stopped here last year to take some photos.
So I'm riding through the village and I spot the little girl, well I did not think I would ever see here again so I must pay her for the photo as I used it on my site. So I stop in and ask someone for a bit of help, I tell them I was here last year and took photos of the little girl and would like to pay her some royalties. Then I spot the old lady and try explain to her, they are getting some it but not the whole picture by this time quiet a crowd has formed.
They understand I want to give them money for a picture but I think that was about it, so Mum comes over and I give here some money, then she legs it, then the little girl appears and discovers we are talking about her she legs it to guess she thinks the Farang wants to buy her. I tell the Mum to give some money to the student (young girl) and she says OK, that's her in the green top holding onto the money.
An old chap comes over and thanks for the money and tells me take pictures if you want you are welcome, I decide that I should come back with the photos and a better interpretation of events. So I say my good bye and leave without a new photo of the Girl, next time. Hope they buy her something but I get the feeling that Beer Laos will be purchased.
Back to the trail and I arrive at Target Alpha which look like this now. Charlie was the same.
No sign that anything happening here, just lush vegetation. it's time to head back to the hotel and drink a beer or two, this house was not here last year it was a scrap yard.
I had done what I set out to do 2 years ago, I was chuffed. I relaxed in my Hotel room that evening and got ready to head up to the Nape pass first thing in the Morning, I did not cross the ford!!.
More Tomorrow from the Nape pass!.
Steve canyon screwed with this post 12-13-2012 at 01:36 AM Reason: Broken picture links
|12-12-2012, 11:34 PM||#34|
Joined: Feb 2008
Location: KL, Malaysia
Nice reading, and great pictures. My son has basically the same bike in Malaysia, his is a Nitro 150, but they are also sold under other names. Mecanically (engine) has been good, no problems at all. Starting when hot got the be a problem, but that was cured with a new spark plug. Quality of componants and the metal used is very bad compaired with Japanese bikes, and we faced some problems getting spare cycle parts as nobody carries spares for these bikes. Luckily bodging bits off other bikes works OK. Chain is elastic as you say, but ofter 6000km its still going OK. Another big issue was punctures, we found that unless the tires were inflated to 40psi and checked regularly, the tire was actually moving on the rim and stressing the inner tube. Getting imported heavy duty scrambles inner tubes and keeping the pressures up seem to have cured this.
Best of luck.
"don't wait for your boat to come in... swim out and meet the bloody thing"
|12-13-2012, 01:01 AM||#36|
Joined: Jan 2012
I have been using IRC tubes and so far so good...
Hope we haven't jinxed now....
Most people said it will fall apart before it leaves the show room, the only thing that has fallen of it is me...
|12-13-2012, 01:37 AM||#37|
Joined: Aug 2007
|12-13-2012, 01:45 AM||#38|
Joined: Jan 2012
I just fixed all the picture links, checked it all, logged out checked it again and there all broken again...
I've got a headache....
|12-14-2012, 05:49 AM||#42|
Joined: Jan 2012
She's doing a great job the roads over in Laos are far from perfect unlike their countryside which is stunning. She's great on Gas getting about 250k's out of 9 liters, the suspension is not much good and it lacks power but it's getting the job done it's has been everywhere the Honda took me last year and some and when I fall of it's so easy to pick up as well as not sinking to much in the soft stuff.
I know it's made from cheaper parts but it's giving me a whole lot of fun for very little money, I got some crash bars made and some extra racks put on the back as the rear Tyre tried to eat my giant loop which I had overloaded, all made and fitted for 600bhat keeping it cheap
Long live the Lifan....
|12-14-2012, 07:34 AM||#43|
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: In the TARDIS
I have a similar bike here in the US, a 2007 Lifan 200 GY5 dual sport. Still running good as new with over 35,000 miles on it. The rear suspension can be helped by putting zirk fittings on the parts that pivot and keeping them well greased.
|12-22-2012, 11:16 PM||#44|
Joined: Jan 2012
|12-23-2012, 12:14 AM||#45|
Joined: Jan 2012
The Nape Pass
Thursday 6th December. Villabouri to Sainamhai Resort 282k's
Today would be another big day I was heading up towards the Nape pass via a small resort so it meant a bit of back tracking but I have time so what the hell. I set the GPS to get me up to route 12 and would make the rest of the plan from there. After yesterday's trip I was up for an easier day but the route had different plans for me, once again the drift captured it all.
It's a 6.30am start and within 20 minutes I'm back on the trails in remote places which I had not seen before but all saved on my GPS. Already I can see that the day is not going to be easy as the first 2 river crossings were difficult and deep, slippery stones,broken logs and mud. Passed through some really old villages and often had to double backup to find the right trail as they seemed to be many new ones, a good test of my resolve and I was enjoying a different challenge today.
After a while I arrive at the massive opening as the trail stops, it's a dried paddy field with the Normal borders around them and the trail has stopped but I can see other tracks so I have a little scout about but there is nothing going in my direction so I just follow where the track should have been, straight across the fields as far as the eye can see.
Time for a quick stop to hydrate then it,s full steam ahead as my notions of an easy day have gone and I'm starting to enjoy this rather hard one, I have to back track a few times, move logs negotiate ditches all in the blistering heat. The Paddy fields prove hard as the small walls are to high and the bike keeps getting beached.
I have to say this today would be one of my favorite rides ever, after a couple of hrs I come out onto a road and I,m back on track again.
The road is dusty but fast, no traffic and eventually I arrive at route 12 stop for some lunch about 20k's from route 8B which took me past Nam Theun power station and up an amazing twisty climb to about 700 meters then it flattened out, after the climb the road became graded and fast lots of building work and people around, lots of money.
As I press on the land opens up into what I can only describe as as a sea with trees as far as the eye can see, was this a result of the power station flooding the area? I have no idea but what I saw was amazing and it went on for miles and miles, it's a protected area and I had the place to myself, 70k's an hr with a plume of dust following me, this is another must ride with some great little places to stay and great views.
It's beautiful up here!
More wet Forrest.
Brilliant trails and no traffic at all.
The last 20k's was back into the jungle which is also being fixed up road wise a great track and I stop to talk to the work guys who spoke great English and was excited to meet the little farang and find out were I came from.
Moving the dirt.
Heading back into the bush.
The trail went back into the bush and after a bit there was a break in the bush and I realize there is a valley the size of London the other side of the trees, another wow moment and this ride keep getting better and better.
The Children in this house have a View to die for.
Lucky people waking up to that everyday.
I exit the 8B and head West on route 8 this is were I have to back track toward the limestone Forrest, the sun is going down at this point and I want to make it to the view point before it sets so I'm in a hurry, I stop along the way to get some other shots but I'm chasing the sun.
This shot remind me of ET for some reason.
I don't think I will make it, but gods loves a trier
This is the spot I was chasing. Only just made it.
I make just before it sets then I head for the resort where I have a meeting about some school uniforms I'm supplying. The resort is beautiful and I have a wonderful evening with the owner and his family and a few beer Laos and a large steak cooked by his daughter who is a Chef in training, she going to be good!.... then it's of to bed to ready myself for an early start up to the Nape pass. I have to say that to date has been the fun ride I have ever undertaken in Laos and would do it again anytime.
Friday 7th December Sainamhai Resort to The Nape pass and onto Vientiane 478k's
Morning arrives and I'm up early say my good byes and head of, today would be a long day 476 k's and my broken skin on my backside and hands is giving me Hell, my right index finger is badly swollen but I have to press on, I took a detour but got stopped because of a drainage ditch which was being made so I had to turn back but this is what it looked like....
I'm coming back to finish this ride.
I will return to that story when I complete it. Back to the route to VTE. And this is how the morning had started.
Amazing view, looks like somebody painted those mountains.
As I rode up to the pass it was raining and bloody cold, no turning back so when I reached the top I took a couple of snaps and headed back down and dried out and warmed up.
Now I will set the GPS for Vientiane switch my brain of and endure a long ride with only views for company, back passed the limestone Forrest again up to route 13.
I arrive at Vientiane about 7 that evening and find a hotel in town, clean up and eat as it had been a long day, I would leave for Thailand in the morning and was back home about 2pm looking the worst for wear, my mission had been a success apart from one thing which I will return to soon.
This ride as a blast, I saw many new things and experienced some wonderful moments that I can carry forever, the Lifan has paid for itself. The bike did not miss a beat and got through all the hard terrain without falling apart, think I'll give her a service when we get back and a night in the Kitchen as way of a thank you.
I'm back of up to Chaing Mai with my Mum until the 20th then I'm heading back for another 6 day blast to see things on the ever growing list.
Love the Lifan.
Steve canyon screwed with this post 12-25-2012 at 07:53 PM Reason: sort double pics
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