Visa Ride - Laos
Day 1 was an early 490-kilometre ride from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Luang Namtha in Laos. That included around one hour for crossing over the border and all of the paperwork involved and a very short visit to Chiang Khong to catch up with a friend. Paperwork is sorted. I'll now ride across the Friendship Bridge and I will make an application for a visa in Laos and get my tax, etc.
This day was really just about covering ground. I got a little bit wet as you can see and so most of this ride was spent wearing plastic bags inside of my boots, but in the end I got to Luang Namtha before it got dark. For those of you that don't know, it gets pitch black around 6 p.m. in Thailand and
Laos on this side of the Equator. So, it's really important to cover ground before it gets dark, especially in Laos when the roads start to get pretty dodgy. On day two I rode 230 kilometres from Luang Namtha to Nong Khiaw.
I'm really flying past these first two days because I really really wanted to get to Nong Khiaw, and here's why... [Music] [Music] Nong Khiaw holds a poignant historical Heritage due to the town serving as a Supply Route during the Indochina War. Signs are dotted around warning not to venture too far off established routes and trails, due to unexploded bombs These days the town is really just a peaceful, mainly Backpacker Hangout. You can rent scooters for exploring the region if you don't have your own bike and there are buses and also a slow boat that will take you from Luang Prabang.
This sleepy town has a Land That Time Forgot feel, yet has all the amenities any traveller would need for an enjoyable trip. Comfortable clean guest houses, great eateries, chilled-out nightlife, and a host of treks and tours are available. For motorcycle riders, there are stunning trails in this area with a popular one being the route to the Lao Luam ethnic Village of Muang Ngoy. It's so hot! So, as many of you know I'm not a great off-roader.
I'm okay to admit that, it's just something that I don't really have a very good strong point in, so this for me is just perfect. It's just a little bit bumpy, um, a little bit scary coming down for me, but anyway, I got here, this little lake area, and it's so refreshing. I've already cooled down in the water and I'm just gonna get wet again. It's just perfect, um, and a beautiful Karst mountain up there and very very peaceful. With it being rainy season I'm a bit concerned about, you know, getting into clay and that kind of thing especially with me not being strong off-road, so um, I'm just really happy right now at this little area, but I reached a dead-end.
I can't see anywhere to get after this, let's take a look, It's a little bumpy because I'm not using my gimbal. Yeah, this is it really. The calm after the storm Good morning, oh monks are there, do you see that? I hope I caught it, yeah good morning from an extremely scenic view um, it is now around 7:30, 7 o'clock, but anyway, this morning I set my alarm for five because I planned to go walking, like a hike. It was gonna take me an hour to hike up and then see the viewpoint.
The mist and all that clearing, however, my stomach decided otherwise. So, I decided to spend one more night in Nong Khiaw and because of that reason, I thought I would check out this other accommodation that I really liked the look of. It's absolutely boiling it's, of course, what's the first thing that I must do in this fabulous resort and that is, take a swim! In the river Time for a gear wash. Creative solution for washing your gear. Powder and voila, you can wash your gear. Is it a thumbs up or a thumbs down? So, bad news guys.
I was just down there in the resort, the hotel thing, and I've just had my stuff nicked off my bike Ransacked my bags and ripped them off! In the end, it turned out that kids had done it and in particular this little boy who actually happened to be the policeman's son. Um yeah, so the community got involved, the local children got involved, and it was a bit of a drama. Apparently, he just went through my bags pulled everything out and threw it around the town. Anyway, the stuff came back.
I decided to give all of the children a treat in the end, including the boys that had been naught only because I wanted this to be a learning experience and I didn't want to ride away feeling bad about Nong Khiaw At 6am I left Nong Khiaw. Having had my bike bags ransacked the day before/ I was just in the mood to set off. With not a drop of rain in sight, it was a perfect time to get off-road and enjoy some of the trails.
When I got back on the road I noticed an elephant camp. and to be honest it made me quite sad to see this style of elephant activity. Thailand has progressed quite a bit in changing the way that it's providing elephant interaction. For anyone who doesn't knows, an elephant's backbone isn't supposed to bear weight, very much unlike a horse's backbone, but anyway, you know, let's go [Music] The picturesque bustling city of Luang Prabang is famous for its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and well preserved Buddhist temples. The city is the former Royal capital of the country, and boasts an eclectic mix of Laos traditional architecture and French colonial style. In 1995, UNESCO designated the city as a world heritage site.
The Mekong River runs alongside Luang Prabang, which is one of the longest rivers in Southeast Asia Traditional slow boat rides embark to and from Luang Prabang, which is a popular way to experience the region, due to the breathtaking views. The night market offers a vibrant taste of local life and is a must visit for travelers. Here you can find a wide range of handicrafts, textiles, clothing, jewelry and local artwork. The nearby Kuang Si Waterfall is a major attraction, featuring multiple tiers of cascading turquoise pools Overall Luang Prabang's blend of history, spirituality, natural beauty, and traditional culture, make it a popular destination for tourists. This is pretty crazy, so um, a screw has worked its way out, so I've used an allen key and electrical tape just to stop that from coming away, but however, that's when I noticed that this plastic is just burnt from the exhaust, totally. This is all, looking really bad.
The hotel is very kindly allowing me to use the hose, uh so, I'll give my bike a clean up, and um, you know check the oil, and everything, to make sure that everything is looking okay. I thought I was so organized. Like okay, there's no problem, and now I have like a million problems.
You know, the first time that I did a solo ride in Laos, which was my second visit, I got a fuel leak got a big problem here, look. The fuel's just coming out, pouring out the bottom of the bike. ..In the middle of bloody nowhere, I just feel like Laos has it in for me. A stomach issue plagued me for this entire trip and for a good week upon returning. Suspected Gardia. So, much of my view in Luang Prabang was this.. [Music] Just a few Snips of the current condition of the R13 route, main route, in Laos. The road is really broken up.
It's such a contrast to around five years ago, when this area was pretty, pretty decent, but it's just dust and gravel, and some boulders and potholes, and pretty much no road in some sections Um yeah, and those trucks, one after the other, billowing through, coming on your side of the road, um yeah, and unfortunately, I had an incident with a truck where he didn't move over to the other side of the road, and the only way for me to go was on the opposite side of the road. I'm down, F%#k! The top box, the base, ripped away from the bike and I'm not sure what I'm gonna do. So I've managed to secure my bike, the top box and the base, with a Rok Strap and, um, cable ties, and stuff like that, uh so, fingers crossed it will hold out until I can get it fixed Thankfully my temporary repair held out. I found a really great little local garage and he fixed the base and also front brake lever as well.
I always carry spares so thankfully I had everything available. At the garage getting fixed and I got Jackfruit from these beautiful ladies. So, off I went on my merry way, feeling relieved that everything was okay Eventually the road conditions improved and I was able to pick up a little bit of speed and make my way to Vang Vieng [Music] Vang Vieng is situated along the Nam Song River and has gained popularity over the years as a tourist destination and backpacker hangout. The Mon Khmer people were the earliest known inhabitants who cultivated rice and practiced fishing. During the 14th century Vang Vieng served as an important trading post connecting the northern and southern regions of Laos. In the 1990's backpackers and adventure seekers enjoyed the town's stunning natural landscapes and adventure activities, such as tubing along the Nam Song River and exploring the surrounding caves and waterfalls.
This put Vang Vieng firmly on the tourist destination map and today visitors continue to visit from all around the world. So, I rested up in the bungalow in viang vieng and then the next morning I headed out to go to some of the viewpoints, but I forgot my camera. I was really feeling rough. I don't want to sound like a broken down record, but this was really a tough trip health-wise.
I just wasn't in my right mind. So, after I realized that I forgot the camera, I ended up just kind of giving up. I thought okay, I'm just gonna go get some breakfast and head on into the capital. My main purpose for this trip was for a new visa and you know a whole big drama involving that, so that was really on my mind, and although I was going to arrive in the capital early, I figured okay, I've had it [Music] Once a small settlement known as Wiang Chan, meaning City of Sandalwood, the capital city of Vientiane is the largest city in Laos. in the late 19th century, Laos came under French Colonial rule.
The French influence is still evident in some of the colonial era buildings today. In 1953, Laos gained independence from France. Later on Patuxay, the famous Arc de Triomphe-influenced structure was built, to commemorate the Laos people who fought for independence from French colonial rule. It's super hot! I've been walking only for about 15 minutes from my hotel, and I'm already pretty sweaty. Um, over there is the monument and the fountain and everything like that, and I'm just making my way towards the waterfront.
Chances are I won't be walking it back, because it will be afternoon heat then. I laid in bed for like hours this morning, despite waking up at five. I went back to sleep for a couple of hours and then I didn't actually leave the hotel until 10. Felt quite nice just to do nothing. To cut a long story short most of my time spent in Vientiane was recovery period. Like I said, this trip was really bizarre.
I had this terrible stomach issue. I got medicine to help me out and I just took care of myself. This is a fun unexpected moment. I'm using a massage chair, that the hotel has. I made the application for the Visa, I collected two days later, and made preparations to leave.
[Music] Initially I had planned to ride back up through Laos, heading north to Muang Ngeun and then cross over there at Phayao Province, but really by this point I just wanted to get back. No matter though, later on I'll return and return back to Phonsavan, which I visited before, and I just loved that area. When I got back my bike went for a much-needed wash and I checked over for damage, and I'm not even going to go into the state of my former boots at the moment but I will be making a video about it. [Music]