February 03, 2009 GMT
Thai - Cambodian border
We arrive on the Thai - Cambodian border mid morning, at Hat Lek, the place is busing with people crossing into Cambodia and strait back for a new visa into Thailand.
We get stamped out at Emigration, go over to Customs with the paperwork for the bike, fill out some form and get another stamp and we are done, no worries.
we drive a short distance across to the Cambodian checkpoint, fill out a visa application hand over 1600bath each ( 80.- AU$) for a months visa wait for ten minutes and Welcome to Cambodia, they don't even look at the bike. It takes me a moment to adjust driving on the right but it's not a big problem.
from the boarder we drive on to Sihanouk Ville on the coast, it's the cambodian beach resort, we end up staying for a couple of days and then head of to Keb via Kampot.
Keb used to be the place for the french to go and enjoy the beach, the Khmer rouge destroyed all the old villas and burned a lot of them to the ground, there are lots of old ruins along the beach. from keb we follow the national Highway No 3 towards Chhuk - Ta Saom - Phnom Penh. Rather ten being a highway its more like a goats track with potholes big enough to park a car in.
A well packed van
Girl at petrol station
It's taken over 5 hour's to cover just under 200 km to reach Phnom Penh, the traffic in town is interesting to say the least, aslong as you dont stop and just go with the flow its not to bad.
Traffic in Phnom Penh
River front Phnom Penh
Markets in Town
Posted by Mark Allenspach at 07:22 AM
February 06, 2009 GMT
north towards Siem Riep
After 4 days we leave Phnom Penh behind us, the road north towards Siem Riep starts of very busy but eases of after about 30km and the road conditions improve dramaticaly we are able to travel at up to 100kmh. We arrive in Siem Riep around lunchtime and decide to go and check out some of the Temples in the afternoon.
Posted by Mark Allenspach at 04:14 AM
February 18, 2009 GMT
From Siam Reap we head back towards Kompong Cham and along the Mekong to Kratie for a night,then up to Stung Treng and on to Veun Khan the Laos border.
Two little wooden huts represent the boarder crossing. The one on the side of the road is immigration where we get stamped out of Cambodia, the other set back in the shade of the trees is Customs, as we approach the customs officer gets himself out of a hammock and points sleepy eyed to a wooden table, he opens a old cake tin , picks out a few stamps, scribbles something on a piece of paper, stamps it and charges us US$ 5.- then drags himself back to the hammock.
On the Lao side same thing just that we have to wake the guy, at least he did not charge us fore it.
First stop in Lao is Khone Phapheng at the Mekong River Waterfalls.
Further on we cross the Mekong on tree longboats attached to each other by wooden boards to make a platform so we can get the bike on to it. We land on the island of Khong witch is part of the 4000 Islands in the Mekong.
Ferry across the Mekong
Fishermen on the Mekong
We make our way north along the river to Pakxe then turn up to the Bolovens Plateau to Pakkong its considerably cooler up here amongst the coffee plantations.
We end up at Tadlo Waterfalls and get a Bungalow for the night.
Christan and Andre from Germany are also staying at the guesthouse, the two are riding around Laos on a couple of 250cc, we had a great night.
Further north we turn east towards Khoun Ngeun the road starts to climb into the mountains taking us to a viewpoint overlooking the Limestone Forest
Down the other side of the mountain we enter the Kong Lor valley, a totally flat area surrounded by sheer cliffs of limestone.
at the end of the valley is the most amazing cave, 7.5km of the Nam Hinboun River makes its way trough the mountain. We enter the cave in a longboat, at times the dept of the water is not enough for us to drive trough so we all get out and drag the boat for a few meters, and on to the next rapid to repeat the exercise.
We emerge at the other end of the cave, a little village spreads itself along the riverfront, we stop for a break and some Rice Whisky.
We spent the night at a Bungalow by the River surrounded by a small Village.
Next stop Vientiane capital city of Laos.
Weill talking to Jules from Classic bike rentals about riding around northern Laos he informs us about the annual Elephant Festival in Xayaboury on the weekend, so rather then staying in the city we head up the no 13 Highway to Vang Vieng ( Laos Party town ) The next 200ks are awesome, bend after bend after bend not a straight bid of tarmac to be seen, and to make it more interesting they throw in a few pigs, dogs,chickens, kids,trucks cutting corners , potholes the size of swimming pools, cows and whatever else you can think of.
View over the mountains
At Xieng Ngeun we turn left onto a gravel road for the next 85ks. The traffic starts to pick up as there are a lot of people going our coming from the festival. The dust created by all the traffic is chocking us at time we cant see the road everything is the color of the road.
The Festival is a huge event with over 100 Elephants particapating in street parades, circus, Elephant of the year competition and demonstrations. The streets are lined with stalls and entertainment.
Posted by Mark Allenspach at 06:58 AM
February 22, 2009 GMT
from the Elephant Festival
On the way back to the main Road, from the Elephant Festival, there was a huge line of Cars, Trucks and Buses, wanting to cross the Mekong by Ferry. Lucky again to be on the Bike, straight to the front. In no time we arrived in Luang Prabang.
Crossing the Mekong on car ferry
What a great town on the Mekong, friendly people, very good food in the cute outside Restaurants with Lantern and Fairy Lights.
Enless Markets with Hand crafted goods. Still very much french influences especially in the buildings, looks like any large Villiage in France.
Stayed 1 night only at the beautiful Thongbay Bugalow with great deck, cushions on the floor etc. Unfortunately we had to move out the next day, because they were fully booked, what a pity.
Moved to the Cold River Guesthouse, which was ok,. Mark had a chance to clean the Bike and do some maintenance like changing the oil and cleaning the Air Filter.
Checked out Lam Si Waterfall the next day, we had to walk for 3 hours through the mountains and Villiages where we had Laos Food, very tasty, and meet some locals weaving baskets, yes it was very hot, as we finally came to the Waterfall, we just had to jump in.
The highlight of the day was to meet the four Elephants and go riding through the Bush. These guys are just beautiful.
Came back to the Guesthouse absoloutely buggered, but had a great day.
The next day we went to the Tat Kuong Si Waterfall, which is a must, everone tells us and only a easy Bike Ride away.
Big Waterfall tumbling over limestone formation into a series of turquoise green pools, which were perfect for swimming.
In the evening the Lady at the Guesthouse cooked dinner for everyone, vegeterian wth Cabbage, Carotts, Eggs and Rice Noodles, very yummy.
Everone sits together and chats, meet a nice german couple Peter and Elma and their uncle.
After 5 days in beautiful Luang Prabang it was time to head north, towards Luang Nam Tha in the national Park.
The Road out started of very good along the River Nam Ou, as we came into the Hills towards Oudom Xai the Road quickly got from bad to worse.We stopped for a yummy lunch and a break in a small town, then we were on our way again to Luang Nam Tha.
10 minutes out of town the Road turns into a Goat Track and we crawl at 30km/hr for the next 90km until we reach Na Teuy and the new No 3 Highway which was build by the Chinese and Thai Government being the main link between China and Thailand. Beautiful Road what joy.
Stayed overnight at Luang Nam THa in a great timber House, with very friendly owners and witnessed a huge Wedding across the Road. The whole town was invited.
early morning on the road
In the morning we followed No 3 Highway through very lush Forrest , Rice Fields and lots of Bamboo Hut Villiages to Houei Xai and the Thai Border.
Arriving on a Saturday wasn't a good idea, since we had to cross the Mekong and the Lady at the Ferry sayed "No Ferry you back Monday".
We go andhave lunch and talk about our options as we notice alot of Travellers arriving by Long Boats.
Mark heads town the warf to talk to the guys who operate the Long Boats, to see if we can get the Bike on the Boat.
Biiiig Bike, No problem.
We clear custome and head town the ramp with our gear and Bike.
After a long disgustion on how this is going to work, we had to unload the Bike.
6 guys started to lift the Bike onto the Long Boat and tyed it down with some Rope. The rest of the gear went on the Boat, Mark had to sit on the Bike, so he could balance it with his feet on the side of the Boat.
Nerv recking, I saw the Bike on the bottom of the Mekong.
But after 5 minutes we arrived on the other side and the 6 guys again lifted the Bike of the Boat, here we are, welcome back to Thailand.
As custome is closed until Monday we stay here for 2 nights in Chiang Khong, which is quite a nice place. Staying at the Tammila Guesthouse overlooking the River.
Posted by Maggie Allenspach at 07:47 AM
February 26, 2009 GMT
From Ciang Khong on the Lao border
From Ciang Khong on the Lao border we travel west trough the Golden Triangle to Chiang Sean, then Mae Chan and end up in Tha Ton at the Nature Garden Bungalows
On the Mountain across the river tower several temples high above the village. There are 9 levels to the mountain each with a different Temple and accommodation for monk students. The very top one of the temples is the biggest and newest still finishing touches are being applied, it's amazing!!!
The following day we ride along road No107 to Tae Taeng where we turn right onto Road No 1095 towards Pai
Here is one for the boys " Road 1095 Chiang Mai to Pai 136km 762 Curves"
Maggie nearly got "Bike sick" on the back, what a blast, the road is in good condition and there are no animals or kids to be seen. Yeeehaaa!!!!!
Pai is a very chilled out town with lots of Guesthouses and Restaurants there is also a live music scene plenty of dreadlocks and Bob Marley T-shirts.
We booked ourselves in for a 2 hour Elephant trip trough the forest and down the river for a swim with the elephants.
Telba the Elephant has a very gentle nature until we get to the river where she tosses us from one side to the other into the water.
Posted by Mark Allenspach at 09:20 AM