Saturday, 19 November 2016
After taking it easy yesterday, there was a bit more driving to be done today.
The plan was to do the Bolaven Plateau loop and see how far we would make it in the loop. The first stop after leaving Pakse was the Tad Fane waterfall. It's a pretty cool waterfall and definitely worth a stop.
After tad Fane, it's just a short drive to the Tad Gneaung waterfall, where you can also get nice food and enjoy a chat with the very nice owner.
Once you are past these waterfalls, the next stop is Paksong where you should stop at Jhai Coffee for a really nice cup of local coffee and a chat with the owner who knows a lot about the local coffee and can give you a tour.
We arrived right when he was being interviewed by a crew for a documentary about Laos and the local coffee.
After enjoying the coffee, a quick bite and sheltering from a small shower it was time to head onwards.
The next part is on a road that you don't have on Google maps (even 3 years later after they finished the road) so just use Maps.Me or follow the signs towards Attapeu and Sekong.
The road will lead you through the mountains down from the plateau past some really amazing views. Since they completed the road it's a lot easier to drive than it was 3 years ago but you should still watch out not to end like the car in the photo above.
Once you are on road 11, it's an easy ride to Attapeu or Sekong, since we wanted to do the loop, we were heading towards Sekong and from there to Thateng.
After a quick stop for some Huda beer (yes, I know) we started to head on to make it to Tad Lo before it got too late.
Tad Lo is still a very sleepy town hidden away, the tad Lo waterfall is it's main attraction but it's more the peace and quiet that gets people here filling up the many guesthouses.
Staying in Tad Lo, you'll definitely go to bed early as even 8pm feels like midnight with most places closed and all the locals being in their homes.
Friday, 18 November 2016
Since I had enough time and nothing much to do, I spent the day chilling and took a short drive to the Phu Salao temple in Pakse.
The temple is on the hill overlooking Pakse and the surrounding area so next to the nice temple you get some great views. Definitely worth a drive up here if you're in Pakse.
It was very hot as always in Laos but the incoming rain helped cool it down a bit and made it more pleasant.
Thursday, 17 November 2016
After the long drive yesterday, I figured it will be a relaxed day without too much driving. Well, since a friend couldn't get his bike from Thailand into Laos at the border crossing near Thakek we had to change the meeting place to Pakse instead.
Since it was only 360km away, I took my time in the morning and had a breakfast first before setting off.
The road between Thakek and Pakse is mostly unspectacular with only few interesting things to see but on the upside, it's easy to drive.
This meant I made it to Pakse in a very good time and had the late afternoon and evening to go around and take some photos since my friend got delayed for another day at the border due to some paperwork.
Lesson learned from this, it's much easier to take a bike from Vietnam to Laos and back without having to worry about any paperwork but if you do come from Thailand make sure you have the correct paperwork with you.
Pakse was not my favorite city even 3 years ago when travelling but it's a good base to explore the Bolaven Plateau and the 4000 Islands. For now however I just enjoyed the great scenery around the city.
Wednesday, 16 November 2016
I like challenges and I like going on motorbike drives around so a 615km drive from Da Nang to Thakek in one day sounded like fun and challenging enough.
Getting up at 6am in Da Nang I set out for my first drive to Hue, nothing unusual and a drive I've done many times back and forth. The views over the Hai Van pass were as usual great and make this always a great drive.
After sorting out a few things and having breakfast in Hue it was time to continue and head to A Luoi for another quick coffee break and my last break in Vietnam.
After A Luoi I went on the very nice and scenic drive to Khe Sanh and Lao Bao where I crossed the border without any problems on my bike. I did take this section a bit too easy though and lost a bit more time than I wanted.
Once I was across the border in Laos, I kept driving all the way to Xepon for my last coffee break of the day. The road on the Laos side is very dusty and very boring but at least it wasn't too hot this time and I didn't feel like driving through an oven.
After Xepon I took it a bit too slow again and lost time on the very god section of the road, only to end up at all the road works and bumps when it started to get dark.
I made it all the way to Xeno despite the bad roads and road works just after it got dark but still had about 90km to go to make it to Thakek.
Driving when it's dark is never easy, it's more difficult and time seems to stretch and it feels you drive for hours without making any progress. Still, driving about 80km/h over the bumpy but not terrible roads (despite not seeing very much) meant I made it to Thakek right before 8pm and just in time for dinner and a few beer Lao.