Laos
February 18, 2009 GMT
Laos

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.

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Border crossing

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.
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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.

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Ferry across the Mekong

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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.

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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

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Down the other side of the mountain we enter the Kong Lor valley, a totally flat area surrounded by sheer cliffs of limestone.

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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.

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Cave entrance

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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.

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We spent the night at a Bungalow by the River surrounded by a small Village.

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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.

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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.

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Posted by Mark Allenspach at 06:58 AM GMT
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.

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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.

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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.

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The highlight of the day was to meet the four Elephants and go riding through the Bush. These guys are just beautiful.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 GMT
 



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