Dual Sport ride on three CRF’s to Laos - Chiang Mai to Luang Namtha.

EndoJim

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Location
Chiang Mai / Cali
Bikes
Ducati Multistrada, FE450, CRF300
Spent a couple late nights at the shop drinking beer and prepping the bikes for my first trip to Laos.

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Rally received Twin wall Renthal bars, Zeta Rally hand guards, Auxiliary LED lights mounted on the bars, 13 /45 gearing, Gold series chain, Yoshimura full exhaust system, bung braised in the header for A/F ratio "tuning", Electronic jet kit, K&N filter air filter, oversized foot pegs, brake and shift lever, Auxiliary 12 and 5VDC power plug. Tidy tail LED license plate holder, Front and rear tires with heavy-duty tubes, bead locks and a few other things I’m probably forgetting. Suspension and engine mods will be done later. What a huge improvement for the big girl...

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My CRF received a new chain, custom LED lighting setup "not pictured". Well worth the time and effort because we did quite a bit of night riding coming home. A wind screen that probably would work great for a shorter person but for me being taller it created terrible buffeting. Both bikes were fitted with the giant loop coyote bags. Absolutely loved the way they fit and functioned. Wish I would have taken pictures the second night but needed to wake up at 4am.

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EndoJim

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Location
Chiang Mai / Cali
Bikes
Ducati Multistrada, FE450, CRF300
We left about 5:30am from Chiang Mai.

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Unfortunately I forgot my Riders Corner Laos map SD card at the house so the boys waited at the gas station while I rode back to retrieve it.

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Nearing the Laos Boarder feeling pretty excited for the new adventure ahead of us. Took us approximately 2hours to clear immigration and customs. Spent about 2000 baht for the whole process.
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For me the roads was awesome even with the ridges in the asphalt, huge potholes and gravel road transitions. CRF was great... don't go fast enough to get into to much trouble and soaks up the rough road.
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Really cool to see all the kids waving to us as we rode by. They really love wheelies too :)
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Left CM in the dark 5:30am and arrived Luang Namtha in the dark 6:30pm. Great day... Found a great hotel by chance. Secure, quite and was able to ride the bikes up to the front door.

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EndoJim

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Location
Chiang Mai / Cali
Bikes
Ducati Multistrada, FE450, CRF300
We went out for dinner the night we arrived and found a place called "Bamboo lounge". Pizza was great and the beer laos was cold and cheap… Eat breakfast there as well, nice Cappuccino and fresh fruit.


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Plenty of friendly tree huggers in Namtha
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After breakfast I realized I grabbed the wrong SD card. So I used google maps and recorded some way point for a day ride with a mix of two track and single track.
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Hotel contact
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The plan was follow the Namtha river south and turn east at the Nam Xe river.
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I'm really good at either pinching tubes or picking up nails. No issues with all the practice I fairly good at changing tubes out. Had it fixed in probably 15min. Nail got me this time.
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The bike received a full jungle inspection.
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As luck would have it we found beer laos a few KM’s down the road. Seen a truck with river rafting boats in the back while have a beer. Namtha river looked like it could be a great rafting trip.
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EndoJim

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Location
Chiang Mai / Cali
Bikes
Ducati Multistrada, FE450, CRF300
Day two cont...

We followed the Namtha river down to the Nam Xe river and hung a left east. The bridge I made a waypoint at had washed away. Pictured below

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When we arrive no one was around just two scooter parked. I walked the water crossing to see if it was doable and the bottom was litter with large slimy boulders. Not a good idea... Shortly after swamping my boots the owners of the canon showed up.
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The negotiation... We actually paid them to come back later that night 9pm just in case the trail was impassable.
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The fat girl was first to cross... They came very close to sinking several time on the way over to the other bank. I have a video... the video is funny to me because my buddy is a little pissed at me for splashing him with mud a few KM's back... It was an accident I swear :)
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This guy here with his daughter actually spoke pretty good English. He asked me to take a photo with his daughter.
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Some action shots... The big man handled the Rally like an old pro...
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Checking the route
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I amazed by the beauty and awesome trails. Loving Laos
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I think I could live here... Trails everywhere...
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Primary transportation... Flip flops with a bag wrapped around their head. :) Very stout people.
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Our new friends caught up with up and invited us to dinner. Turn out Thang and his wife are school teachers in the village we were headed to. His wife is carrying their one year old daughter. Wonderful people
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EndoJim

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Location
Chiang Mai / Cali
Bikes
Ducati Multistrada, FE450, CRF300
Day 2 cont... "Sleeping in the jungle village"

20min later we pulled into Thang's village (center of map). I believe the name of the village is Wan Vang... I sure that is not a proper translation.

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First of the welcoming committee
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Everyone was very interested in the Farang buying beer. I would learn later from Thang the village has not seen another white face in over five years. Last time was when the school was opened. First time seeing big bike ride thru
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By the time we pulled in to the village it was almost 7pm so we decided to stay the night. After dinner we sat down and a few beers and laughs. Wish we would have gotten a picture when the whole family showed up. Probably 10-12 adults and 10 children. Great evening...
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This is when Thang was telling me they were harvesting in the morning and we should continue are drinking in the morning "about 8:30pm". Little early for me so I built a fire outside and had one more beer. Building the fire ended up worked out later because my buddy snores like an angry bear and I ended up sleeping outside beside it. Whole other story to go with that...
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Mr. Fancy pants... probably the only one who slept in the entire village that night :)
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EndoJim

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Location
Chiang Mai / Cali
Bikes
Ducati Multistrada, FE450, CRF300
Jim - So have you fallen in love with Laos yet?

You were right when you told me I would fall in love... and I just scratched the surface... I'm at work daydreaming about my next trip. Looking at Google Maps the single track trails are endless.
 

EndoJim

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Location
Chiang Mai / Cali
Bikes
Ducati Multistrada, FE450, CRF300
Day three...

The night sleeping next to the campfire under a sky full of stars was great. However I was woken up several times by villagers shining their flashlight in my face checking on me. A couple of the dogs didn’t like me sleeping outside as well. I’m in early riser so I was up about 4 AM. All the women in the village were up at this time doing chores washing dishes and feeding animals. I stoked the fire and boiled some water for my morning coffee. Thang's wife use the fire to heat the morning rice. Slowly them villagers came and sat around the fire with me. From what I could make out the little old lady was telling everyone how I slept next to the fire. They all had a big laugh. It was really a great experience.

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Thang's daughter was puzzled by the strange looking man at her house.
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This was the view from Thangs kitchen...
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Thang told me they use no chemical on their crops. Organic food farm to plate. He and his wife have been teaching in their village for over five years without pay from the government. Both are exceptional people.
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Thang has been building his house for a couple year. He told me at breakfast he carted all the brick 40km with his little trailer tractor setup.
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The guys waiting for me while I was looking for my shoes... Only found one so left it behind.
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Fun little water crossing not too deep but was running swiftly
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Back to Namtha night market for dinner
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Pounce

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2011
Location
Perth
Bikes
'12 KTM 690R & '09 KTM 450EXC
This is great info Jim, looking where you are, the road where you say the washed out bridge is isn't on any of the GPS maps I have, may go through there for a look in Dec as I'll be up that way.

I found the village, 3 different names
Vangven
Vangang
Vang-en

I been to the turnoff to it in another village several times but went east instead of north
 

EndoJim

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Location
Chiang Mai / Cali
Bikes
Ducati Multistrada, FE450, CRF300
Final Day..

I woke early and decided to going out for a quick ride by myself while everyone else was sleeping. I tried a couple single tracks north of Namtha off the 17A. Only to be chased off by a couple jungle lady's that were walking out to the roadside to sell their rubber sap. That stuff thinks like something died. I think they thought it was either too difficult or may have been a one-way track to their house. Too bad it looked like a killer single track.

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Little ways down the road I found a cable bridge with what looked like another nice single track on the other side. There was a gate at the entrance of the bridge with no lock so I went ahead and crossed to check out the trail. First time across a jungle cable bridge for me. Trickier than it looks :) Thought I was just going to standup and just wheelie across but the bridge started to rock and swaying.
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Once across and up the single track I realized I was out of time had to be back by 8am. Only 20 minutes to make it back to the hotel. So I turned around and high tailed it back.

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Going back across the bridge to the main road
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It was a little precarious walking around the bike on the bridge to take this photo...
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We meet up with some other riders for the states and had breakfast. Great bunch of guys
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Did a quick inspection of their bike a found one to be missing half the teeth on the counter sprocket and the rear did not look much better. They rented the bikes locally and tried to get them replaced but were told it would be several days before a new one could be delivered...
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Bike loaded up and ready for a long day of riding. The plan was to take the 17A north to Muang Sing and then west on the 17B to Xieng Kok. To try to catch a boat down the Mekong. Just too late in the day by the time we got to Muang Sing to go try to catch a boat. Problem was I need to catch a flight back to work in less than 48 hours.

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Could not figure what this was about. Kind of look like some sort of large water canal. It was in the middle of nowhere on the 17A
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Random village
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We took a left toward the north at Sop Oe and followed a small canal. This road was actually straight but the pantographic mode on my phone made it look like a turn.
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Muang Sing dusty quite town.
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Found a nice place to eat. Nice Chinese food.
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From Muang Sing we rode straight through all the way to the boarder in Chiang Kong. Seen this wrecked truck on the way to Namtha. Pretty sure this guy did not make it.
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Back on the Thai side of the Mekong river. The crossing from Laos to Thailand was much faster... We ended up pulling back into Chiang Mai around midnight.
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5 days Three nights was not nearly enough time but what an adventure. I'd do it again tomorrow.


See ya
Jim
 

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EndoJim

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Location
Chiang Mai / Cali
Bikes
Ducati Multistrada, FE450, CRF300
Those trails after putting the bikes on the boat look incredible!
The pictures don't do it justice... The GPS maps are deceiving it would appear to be no trail but their everywhere. Looking at google earth you could spend months riding and not hit the same trail. Love those farmer trails. :)
 

EndoJim

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Location
Chiang Mai / Cali
Bikes
Ducati Multistrada, FE450, CRF300
This is great info Jim, looking where you are, the road where you say the washed out bridge is isn't on any of the GPS maps I have, may go through there for a look in Dec as I'll be up that way.

I found the village, 3 different names
Vangven
Vangang
Vang-en

I been to the turnoff to it in another village several times but went east instead of north

Found the trail on OSM Mapnik

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Wheelin

Junior Member
Joined
Feb 21, 2017
Location
Bangkok, Thailand
Bikes
CBR 650F
Day 2 cont... "Sleeping in the jungle village"

20min later we pulled into Thang's village (center of map). I believe the name of the village is Wan Vang... I sure that is not a proper translation.

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First of the welcoming committee
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Everyone was very interested in the Farang buying beer. I would learn later from Thang the village has not seen another white face in over five years. Last time was when the school was opened. First time seeing big bike ride thru
View attachment 55167

By the time we pulled in to the village it was almost 7pm so we decided to stay the night. After dinner we sat down and a few beers and laughs. Wish we would have gotten a picture when the whole family showed up. Probably 10-12 adults and 10 children. Great evening...
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This is when Thang was telling me they were harvesting in the morning and we should continue are drinking in the morning "about 8:30pm". Little early for me so I built a fire outside and had one more beer. Building the fire ended up worked out later because my buddy snores like an angry bear and I ended up sleeping outside beside it. Whole other story to go with that...
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Mr. Fancy pants... probably the only one who slept in the entire village that night :)
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How come only a lone farang? Were your group riders all Thais?
 

EndoJim

Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2015
Location
Chiang Mai / Cali
Bikes
Ducati Multistrada, FE450, CRF300
One Thai and two Farangs. Three riders in total. Still haven't made it back Laos but hopefully soon.
 

Pounce

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2011
Location
Perth
Bikes
'12 KTM 690R & '09 KTM 450EXC
I'm glad this thread was resurrected as I was looking for it. I'll be in that ares in around 5 weeks & wanted to do part of Jims route.
 
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