Luang Namtha To Houay Xai The Long Road Home

bsacbob

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Sadly today was to be the last day of the trip, we had planned to do the excellent Oudomxai-Nale-Long trail (you can find these trails in the Laos ride reports), but I had some business to attend at home.

So another early start fueled with coffee and egg baguettes at the Manychan we head for Muang Sing.

GPX at the foot of the post.

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Being so early we did well for the most part to avoid the constant stream of Chinese fruit trucks, intent on killing riders.

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For me the highlight of the paved ride to Muang Sing is the wall placards, looking a bit faded now.

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This guy could not have turned any slower, on this slick surface would have been interesting on a big tourer.

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Not sure what the baskets are for in the dry river bed, normally used as bridge piers.

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A quick stop at the equally unimpressive town of Muang Sing and the old French fort, as with Boun Tai, left to rot.

N21.18836° E101.14829°

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Of all the forts, Huay Xai has the best example in my opinion but again not cared for.

Fort Carnot Huay Xai

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I guess the site must be protected in some way otherwise this wall section would have been demolished with this new house build.

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Leaving town now dealing with the trucks and group of scooter riders.


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Trying to pass the Chinese trucks can prove difficult when they take all the road.

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The route to Ban Long is not the most enjoyable, between the dust and the trucks it's best avoided.

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Finally some clear road.

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Then through the huge depressing banana plantations, strong whiff of chemicals as you ride by.

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Melon fields getting ready for China.

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This is where most of the plastic from the banana and melon fields end up, dumped in the river to become somebody else's problem.

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You can help but feel a little sorry for the people in this region the Chinese have raped the fields, the only jobs they can get are working for them to harvest fruits and live in the film of red dust everywhere.

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This suspension bridge well past it's sell by date.

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Bathing time would be nice to join them, early but hot as hell.

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More melon fields, trees long gone now.

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Water or bridge, the bridge looked sketchy, water it was.

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Gosh, that felt good.

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Once past Ban Long the trail is still interesting although you still have to be mindful of the odd unexpected trucks.

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Let Nick get ahead and enjoy the trail, rather than eating my dust.

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Improvised dredging station.

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Chinese feeling generous, the water level the highest I had seen in a while.

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Picking the moment to pass the locals.

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The old Bailey bridge marks the start of the fun bits.

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Now we started passing multitudes of Banana plantation that had been burnt off.

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These guy's earning their money navigating through the rapid areas of the river.

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This solitary guy walking along on the middle of nowhere, all you need for the day, Tamarind, sticky rice and a bottle of gasoline.

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Never far from a beer Lao.

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Last water crossing was a little deeper than I had Nick believe..

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No problem for the Dakar.

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More banana waste everywhere.

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Another quick drink stop to rehydrate.

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Inquizative you novices.

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back in Banna and melon farmland, the Chiese have truly taken over this region.

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More bananas burnt off.

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The burning went on for a while, sad to see and ride through.

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Another rickety bridge tot he left, Nah water it will be.

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As always expectant spectators at water crossings.

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No show today folks.

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The march of the Chinese construction moves closer to eventually pave the trail, to facilitate access to the casino's no doubt at the expense of the local people.

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The scale of what they are doing is staggering, but i guess gambling pays big time.

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Closer to Houay Xai its topped off with gravel, not the best riding surface.

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Carving their way through the rocks.

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Approaching the so-called "special economic zone" hardly a zone now and the Chinese shops and hotels move towards town.

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The Roman casino area now a huge construction site for new Hotels etc.

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Was good to get past all that and into town for a last baguette and head for the border.

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No problems at all exiting, Nick decided to stay in Chiang Khong for the night, I would head home to Chiang Rai overall a long day of over 400 km for me, but the nd of another fun trip 2800 km covered in 10 days it was a bit rush and push but that's part of the deal.

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Nearing home, the tank would just about make it I hope.

Till next time, safe travels.

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GPX viewer
 

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Cycle Wallah

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I agree Bob. Really depressing what the Chinese are doing up there. Took me a while to realise what the bad smell was. Between bananas and casinos the Chinese have done a good job?
 

EndoJim

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Nice one Bob...

Planning my next trip back to Laos. Oudomxai-Nale-Long trail will be on the list for sure.


Thanks
Jim
 

blackwolf

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I agree Bob. Really depressing what the Chinese are doing up there. Took me a while to realise what the bad smell was. Between bananas and casinos the Chinese have done a good job?
I agree. However, the Kings Roman project is nothing new, as far as I'm aware the main part of the project has been in operation for some years now? I went there last year, there is a market next to the casino which is where don sao island used to be, that is, the island is now joined to the mainland.

Surprised that the casino on the Myanmar bank is still in operation. Given that the Golden Triangle checkpoint is now an international crossing for those wanting to gamble at Kings Roman (although vehicles aren't allowed across here) but the Myanmar side does not facilitate entry to non-Thais, and it's looking pretty dilapidated, I can't see them surviving for much longer.
 

bsacbob

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My biggest concern apart from how totally tacky the whole Roman development is, but how much the Chinese development is now encroaching along route 3 and beyond.

As I mentioned the whole area north of HX is now becoming mini China and the future plans to pave route 3 to Muang Sing will only hasten that becoming a reality, the casino on the Myanmar side as you say will no doubt fail under the wave of Chinese investment over the river.
 

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