Current Location : Melbourne, Australia
Last entry date : 28/Mar/09

A young girl cleaning the ear lobe of her grandma outside their home in the Laos countryside.

From 25/Jan/09 to 28/Jan/09

First thing first in Laos : drive on the right side of the road, unlike Thailand or Malaysia. I found this out when the scooters and minivans were coming straight at me. Next, its handy to have small notes of US$ or Thai baht for meals, etc as these were preferred compared to the local currency KIP (even the custom officer that asked for his “overtime” and cigarette money preferred it. The KIP is worthless outside Laos).

I spent an evening at the small border town of Huay Xai, so did a large number of other foreign tourists at this more or less one street border town. Most are here to renew their visas so they may return to Thailand, and the rest to continue their tracks on a 2 day leisure slowboat trip down the Mekong River to the inland city of Luang Prabang. I had both options (boat ride or by road), tossed a coin and took the road.

As I rode into Laos interior, its like a flashback of roads up in northern India – winding roads (quite often not maintained) and hours of ride over unending hills. The main road in Laos takes me through local villages usually located by the roadside. Here, the houses are small, made of wood with treaded rattan wall and atap roofs. Many villages out in the countryside are without electricity, piped-in water, let alone any sanitary system. Its difficult to tell how these folks make their living as life seemed so rude ie the men are attending to small plots of land; while women and children are seen carrying water, collecting wood to take back to their homes, etc. The Northern Laos got its charm, but it is poor.

Meantime up in the hills, the bike began to experience springy back suspension problems, despite no visible signs of damage or oil leak – the fatigue from the heavy luggage weight and touring grounds must have sank in early. Not a good sign, but hopefully it does not give way in the middle of nowhere – at least until I get back into Thailand.

On top of that, I somehow managed to find a small hotel out in the middle of nowhere on the eve of Chinese New Year (25/Feb), while I had family members waiting for me to celebrate such in Malaysia !! I am still amazed with my miscalculations of time and kms of this Indochina loop. It looked quite simple and “fast” on the map.

When I got into former capital Luang Prabang in the dark the next day, I was happy I had a good glimpse of Northern Laos as is – from the ground. Luang Prabang is very touristy. The Laos I’ve just seen is so different.

10 Responses to « Discovering Northern Laos »

  1. Update :
    Its Touchdown Australia !!

    Arrived Melbourne from Bali and bike now released from customs – that means I’m free to ride. Thx logistic help from HJ.

    A small change of plan ie have reversed my original plan, that means will now travel from Melbourne and end in Perth.

    See new 2nd posting for Laos beneath the Flashnews from Borneo Kalimantan.

    Happy birthday to Christina and to those that are celebrating with her today.

    Thx messages from those following this trip and those reading in the background.

    Sheen

  2. amazing photos…and I love the people with their smiling faces. Would have loved to see this part of asia…Lydia

  3. c’est l’une des series de photos que je prefere! elles sont magnifiques! j’ai vu mon petit chien :) il est trop beau, gros bisous

  4. Siew Hoon & Victoria29 March 2009 à 7:59 pm

    Hi- Sheen,
    Beautiful photos ! & they’re all well described.

    Wishing you a good ride to Perth soon, meanwhile… enjoy yr. stay in Melbourne. Take care.
    Siew Hoon.

  5. you are very close to achive your dream. you should feel really happy now.

    i am looking forward to meet you and listen your road stories. i’ll be in France on 21st of May. hope to see you.

  6. Hi Sheen,

    I suppose you were feeling right at home in Laos. With your story, we can at least get the right image of the place since we didn’t know much about it. I’m glad your bike was still able to perform well despite the difficulties. I hope it doesn’t give you any more problems.
    Give our regards to our Aussie friends.

  7. Hello Teresa,

    We held a mini LSU meet yesterday here in Melbourne, over a soumptous meal, of course, chaired by LSU Melbourne boss Henry. I think he’ll update info on the janitor list soon as he finds time.

    Sheen

  8. Hi Sheen,

    Wow! I’m happy to know you were all able to get together and catch up with each other. It would have been even nicer if we could have been there to celebrate with you your success. I’ll be checking for the update on the janitor list.

    Cheers

  9. hi this is my first time to comment , since i see the photos i like it so much …nice place, beautiful country, culture and people with real smiling faces never seen before…..have a good ride and drive safe..take care..hope to hear from you soon

  10. hi this is my first time to comment , since i see the photos i like it so much …nice place, beautiful country, culture and people with real smiling faces never seen before…..have a good ride and drive safe..take care..hope to hear from you soon

    michael

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