Driving on the Hai Van Pass is never the same, no matter how often you do it.
There's always something new, whether it's the view, always different weather, a double rainbow, a fire or accidents.
Despite the tunnel being built, some trucks aren't allowed through the tunnel or just don't fit through so they take the long road up and down the Hai Van Pass.
Most of the time they just spill some oil on the road but at times, they spill their cargo, too.
This time there were two almost identical accidents on two of he hairpin corners on either side of the pass.
It was supposed to be a relatively quick and uneventful drive back to Da Nang. The reason or staying overnight inn Xepon was after all to shorted the distance of the return journey.
Well, after topping up the air in my rear tire (again), it was supposed to last for the 40 km back to Vietnam, where I wanted to check it further.
Well, it almost made it but fell short just a few km before the border so I had to resort of pushing it a few km to the next mechanic.
Back in Vietnam it never felt like the new tube was working that well and as it had to come I had another flat before reaching Lang Co. So one more repair was in order before I could make it back a few hours later than planned.
Warning, this post contains plenty (too many?) photos of my Honda Wave so be warned.
The day started, as so many other days when I'm on a road trip, with a flat rear tire which needed fixing before I could set out to do the Thakek Loop.
The Thakek Loop, or simply 'The Loop', is one of the more famous roads and main things to do in Laos. It's a 330-420km circular loop (depending if you do the back and forth to the famous Konglor cave).
Most people do it in 3-4 days and get to visit plenty of caves, some waterfalls and swimming spots along the way.
Not really having 3 days at my disposal but still wanting to do the loop, I figured I'll just do it in one day and skip some of the caves and waterfalls. After all, I've seen plenty of caves and waterfalls before so after a while I don't feel the need to stop at all of them anymore. I rather enjoy the ride on my bike and scenery.
The route is in one word breathtaking, the scenery is great, the road makes for a fun ride with the ups and downs and nice corners. So I can fully recommend you do it but maybe taken 2-3 days instead of 1 days for it.
While the distance wasn't that long, plenty of stops for photography and some to top up the air in my tire, meant the drive took quite a bit longer than expected.
Now, you might have heard or read about terrible road conditions on the Loop but the road is in pretty good condition and is mostly new so don't worry about any mud filed paths you might have heard about.
There are places with some massive potholes though, which can swallow you and your bike up if you're not careful (more on that later) but for the most part it's a smooth ride.
I've been to Laos a few times now and have done a few different loops, took some scenic and some challenging roads but none were as much fun as the Thakek Loop and I wish I would have had 2 days for it to do it in a more laid back way.
Still, if you're in Laos you have to do the Loop on a motorbike, it's worth it.
The initial plan was to either get back to Thakek before it got dark or stay somewhere overnight. Things changed when I kept stopping for photos and had to drive slow to find an open petrol station before running out of gas.
Things took a turn for the worse though when I hit a big pothole at about 65km/h and it managed to break some spokes off my rear wheel and bend the rim, too.
This meant the 40km drive back to Thakek ended up taking quite a bit longer and was more difficult than planned.
It will also mean I will have to replace the rear wheel in the morning (photos of the damage in the next post).