A Northern Loop


Senior Member
Nov 29, 2016
Yangon, Myanmar
Kenbo 125
I write this now from Paklay, 200 km west of Vientiane, having just finished my first full day of riding. Wow, that's all I got to say. Except for a few kilometers of unpaved roads, which actually weren't an issue on my rented CRF250, the roads have been fanstastic, the scenery breathtaking and the people super friendly. I'm really going to enjoy these next couple weeks.

As videomaking is also a hobby of mine, here's the first of many travel videos. Now, there' no motorbike riding in this first episode, as I had yet to secure the bike, but even walking around Vientiane can be interesting for a first-time traveler there.

As I write this, I'm about to set off on my last full day in this beautiful country. What an incredible ride it's been. Blog link below.

You were a few days to early for the bridge at Paklay over the Mekong. We were there on the 14th and the bridge had just been opened for the public so no more waiting for the ferry and saving 30000 Kip for the trip by ferry
Yeah, well, if I wasn't one of the first to use the new bridge, I can say I was one of the last to use the ferry!

At the moment, I'm in Bangkok on a layover. I fly home to Yangon this afternoon. The trip is at an end in real time. But it'll take me a couple weeks to make all the videos.

This was my final route. Significantly less ambitious than the original plan, but perfect for 11 days on the road.

I decided to take a break from the road and spent a full day in Luang Prabang. Check out Kaung Si and some very bad bowling.

Back on the road! Leaving Hwy 13 for the uncertain paths of something called Hwy 1C... The "1" was encouraging, the "C" I was a little worried about. Turns out Hwy 1C is a fantastic road.

There's a blog with words and pictures too.
Up in the foggy highlands of the north, in Part 9, we get to the end of 1C and turn onto Hwy 13 to Phonsovan.

Great little video - yes road 1C is a bit narrow but, as there is little traffic on that road, you can "go" for it. Place names in Laos are a bit of a problem: Vieng Thong from where you started was some 40-50 year ago called Mueang Hiam but after the war they changed the name to Vieng Thong only to be given its old name about a year ago and is now again called Mueang Hiam. Phonsavan / Xiengkhuang is basically the capital (Phonsavan) of the province of Xiengkhuang.
I got to spend a full day in Phonsavan... err. Xieng Khuang... whatever its called. Here I visit the wonderfully named "Plain of Jars"

When I read that there was a casino on the south shore of Nam Ngum reservoir, I knew that my final night in Laos would be spent close by and I'd be committing one of my many vices: gambling. Roulette, to be specific.

Got a room at the Vansana Nam Ngum Resort - good value for a a quality room - only 25 km from the casino (there's rooms at the casino, but they're quite expensive), and a problem arose. A tropical storm was moving in off the South China Sea and the weather sattelite images I was looking at on the internet looked ominous... I didn't want to get caught in this!


Should I go? 25 km.. I could do that in 20 minutes... but arriving at an air-con casino, sopping wet, would it be worth it? The downpour hadn't arrived, and even though my rain gear was marginal, I decided to go for it. I made it with just a bit of a drizzle.

For not the first time on this journey, I arrived at a place that didn't get a lot of drive-up visitors. First off, Lao nationals aren't allowed to enter. I'd say the clientele was 90% Thai, 10% Chinese, and all of them had arrived via shuttle van. I had to park my motorbike a good quarter mile away in the employee parking - there's no visitor parking. I come in, quite wet, and look for the coat check. They don't have need for that, so it was quite a novel idea.

Eventually, I made my way to the game tables. Everyone was playing pai gow or baccarat, but as advertised, up on the mezzanine, there were a couple of lonely roulette wheels. The staff and pit bosses look bored, as none of the Thais or Chinese played this game. I got 3000 Baht (Thai Baht was the currency of the place, and as I'd brought USD, I was losing already on the exchange rate) worth of chips and started playing.

I won some. I lost some. In my opinion, the reason roulette is so great is that it both tests your ability to predict the future and also provides rushes of adrenaline, as the ball clickity clacks into its final resting place, and dopamine if you're lucky enough to win.

About 90 minutes into my play, I happened to win big. Along with being able to see into the future, winning at gambling is about knowing when to walk away from the table. Whether or not I was going to leave depended on the weather. I asked the pit boss if it was raining outside. He looked at me confusedly; surely no other gambler had ever asked such a question. There are no windows in a casino. You have no idea if it's night or day. The pit boss finally understands me and gets on his radio. I'm told it isn't raining. Time to cash in

I cash in with 12000 Baht, a 9000 Baht profit!

Minutes after I got back to my hotel, the deluge began. Absolutely perfect timing.
That all looks great! I'll have to save some of this for reference for when I get to go through Laos again.
I've noticed I forgot to include the brief final episode.

It's only a month now until the next adventure! Back home to the USA to see the family and then a one-week ride in New Zealand!

Great videos Joko, I enjoyed watching them. Made me want to go back to Laos again. And one day I will...
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