Day 60 – Muang Khau to Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam

March 8th, 2010

Early start for the run to the border. A couple we met said it took them 12 hours to cover the 90km in a bus – we laughed, superior
in the knowledge that our powerful motorcycles would be more than a match for any road. Sure enough, it only took us 10 hours…

At several places on the route, road construction meant hours and hours of waiting while they collapsed chunks of mountain onto the
road, then pushed it over the edge into the forest below. The final result will link China to Laos, via Vietnam. The scars it has already
left on the landscape will outlast the road surface if the rest of the country is anything to go on.

Arriving at immigration, we slipped out of Laos without incident then rode the few km to the Vietnam side. Passports were stamped, and Carnets too – until one nosey customs offical wanted to know where our ‘fixer’ was… Once the cat was out of the bag, we weren’t going anywhere!

A bed on the ground outside┬áthe immigration building was our only option we were told, until they took pity on us and said we could leave the bikes until the morning and stay in Dien Bien Phu, 35km away. So we locked up the bikes and headed into ‘Nam, feeling naked without our steeds…

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View from our guesthouse in Muang Khau

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The owner… Really nice bloke! His wife and son entertained us for dinner the night before.

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That little blur up there is Mat…

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Local produce for sale

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Not sure what these were – any ideas? They were about the size of a small tomato, had ‘eyes’ like potatoes, a pip about the size of a plum’s, and a really tart, sour taste – not unpleasant though

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The 20m ferry. That cost as much as a night’s accomodation… Snake.

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Some of our dinner companions. They had 6 hours or so of river cruise ahead of them.

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Roadworks, Lao style. The drop-off to the left is the same gradient as you can see in the upper right. All that dirt just gets pushed over the edge, creating a huge scar down the mountainside visible for miles and miles.

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At the border… Mat checking the matresses out.

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The bikes locked up for the night

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Looks deserted, but all the customs officials live inside and were keeping a close eye on us…

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All that stands between City2Sunrise and Vietnam!!

19Says it all…

Day 45 Chiang Mai Toy Ride

February 21st, 2010

Chiang Mai toy ride was a blast! over 300 bikes, from pimped-out scooters with racing exhausts to custom choppers and fully kitted sports bikes, all with toys strapped to them for a 50km run through Chiang Mai to Mae Rim, just outside town.

A gaggle of kids from a local deaf school and several orphanages were on hand to receive the loot…

Day45_21

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Day 43 Thaton to Chiang Mai

February 19th, 2010

Riding on from Thaton, we came across a village festival in full swing so stopped for a gawk.

Everyone in costume, firecrackers going off everywhere, colorful and noisy.

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Day 42 Chiang Mai to Thaton

February 18th, 2010

We’re headed north into the mountains again, to see the Golden Triangle.

While the main highway is busy and the towns all sort of blend into each other, you don’t have to travel far from the main road to feel very remote!

Great roads again, well surfaced and twisty beyond belief – in some parts it’s just switchbacks one after another, slow going but good fun to ride. Mountain scenery spectacular as ever…

Finished for the night in Thaton, just a few kms from the Myanmar border. Noticably colder up here, especially at night.

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Dai 41 Pai to Chiang Mai

February 17th, 2010

The aftermath of our trail riding the previous day included a broken clutch lever and several acres of missing skin from Mat’s legs!

We spent the morning in Pai making repairs, then headed back for the wild twistys of route 1095 to Chiang Mai.

Our new tyres were waiting, so with the help of our local mechanic, who’s done quite well out of us so far, we reshod the beasts.

Big thanks again to Vee Rubber for providing two further sets of tyres free of charge, and getting them shipped to Chiang Mai from Bangkok!

Waterfall near Pai we stopped to look at.

Waterfall near Pai we stopped to look at.

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Day 40 Pai

February 16th, 2010

Early start as we head up into the hills behind Chiang Mai, aiming for Pai and Mae Hong Son.

This is some of the greatest motorcycling roads in the world in my humble opinion – over 1,000 bends over a couple of hundred kilometres, and just spectacular countryside.

We stopped for breakfast at a roadside restaurant, where due to language barriers Geoff ended up in the kitchen. The resulting egg scramble with thai flavors was a hit (no-one was sick, anyway).

Coffee in Pai, lovely little town in the moutains, pretty touristy but in a good way, with great cafes and lots of objects d’Art.

Afterwards headed bush for a quick 50km loop through past some remote villages – we got lost within the first 1/2 hour and spent the next 8 falling off, barking shins, and rode the last hour or so in the dark. Definately the most challenging track we’ve hit so far.

Tom’s best work was running into a pig and falling down. Chris ‘Scooter’ Clarke managed the whole thing on the rented Honda Dream 125 without any offs – how I don’t know! Retired battered to Pai a good night’s sleep.

Should have got a pic of the kitchen rather than the result - there's not a snowflake's chance that it would have passed step on of the public health inspection...

Should have got a pic of the kitchen rather than the result - there's not a snowflake's chance that it would have passed step on of the public health inspection...

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Podcast No1

February 4th, 2010

Yes there is a gap in the days!

February 1st, 2010

The webmaster back home is trying to catch up with the boys’ progress.

Visit back soon!

January 31st, 2010

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Day 23 Kratie to Don Diet

January 30th, 2010

We decided to ditch the tarmac and follow a minor road that followed the river up from Kratie to Stung Treng, the last town before the Laos border. The plan went well for the first 40km or so as the road went from bitument to dirt, to wheel tracks, to a scooter track, to a foot track, to… jungle!

With the land mine museum still in recent memory, we tucked our tails between our legs and headed back to the main road. The border is a real ‘remote border crossing’ with dinky gatehouses, and US$1 slipped into the passport to ensure it’s speedy return.

Lengthy argument with some Laos guy trying to sell us insurance, and insisting we’d be deported without it, we rode into the Four Thousand Islands area. If I haven’t run out of superlatives yet, I’ll use the remaining ones here…

Ferrying the bikes across to Don Diet island is by far the coolest thing we’ve done so far this trip. Getting them up the beach at the other side was almost as good…

We’re staying in a little stilt bungalow that faces the sunset, right over the water. The Mekong is our shower – quick swim and we’re refreshed and ready for anything. It’s very basic, and completely structurally unsound, but Don Diet has to be one of the most relaxing a beautiful places on earth.

Fishing village north of Kratie

Fishing village north of Kratie

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