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Thursday, 28 June 2012


Today's ride is a ride to remember. The target for Day 13 is to finish the ride to Na Meo (Laos – Vietnam border), and try to get to Phonsavan. It was a very beautiful day today. As we braved the morning mountain chill, I saw glimpse of sun rays on the paddy fields. It was indeed a spectacular view. I saw teenage girls washing clothes by the river, and children bathed at the public water tap. We followed route 6 all the way to Na Meo. It took 2½ hours only to reach Xam Neua (60kms) and 1½ hours to reach Na Meo (80kms). I was glad that we pulled over at Houa Moung last night, because I don't think we can make it to Xam Neua if we continued, as the road was steeply winded ascending and descending. 

There was one time that my heart skipped when out of a sudden, a motorcyclist came out from a junction and without looking right or left, he crossed the road right in front of me! I was being scolded for not slowing down. Well, I'm riding on the main road, he's the one coming out from the junction. Okey, this is his country, so its my fault. It was a bit confusing to reach Na Meo as there were no sign boards. However, we managed to reach the border town and took some pics at both borders - Laos and Vietnam.

Laos - Vietnam border

The view was really awesome as we rode our bikes. As it was getting late, we hurriedly rode the winding mountain road.  The villagers were returning home from their farms. I saw children carrying piles of wood fire or bamboo behind their backs. How I pity them. Children in Malaysia were busy playing ‘Angry Bird’ while these kids had to work to help their families.

To make matters worse, as it was getting dark, the rain started to fall. Fog started to appear and limited my vision. The road became slippery and I almost skided a few times. It was dark and I was riding alone in the mountain jungle. God knows how I felt at that time. I almost cried!!! Hadi was nowhere to be seen as he was ahead of me. So, instead of braking when descending a steep winding road, I press the throttle. I noticed that the locals didn’t respond when I honked every time when I am nearing a curve. It was very cold and due to fatigue, I didn’t realize that Hadi waited at the junction to last night’s guest house for us to stop for the night. I rode on to Phou Lao. There was no guest house at this very small town. I was very tired after the long ride and I was shaking terribly due to coldness, tense and fear. Upon reaching Nam Neun, I was so relieved that this small town had a guest house. Unfortunately, it was a fake relief as the guest house neither have electricity nor water. I asked some locals if I can put the night at their house. I even begged them to let me stay. I am willing to pay them. It was very difficult to communicate as they can’t speak English. In the end, we settled with another guest house, also with no electricity, but at least had water. Survival. We did what we need to do. Total ride today is about 300kms, 12 hours.

6 JUNE 2012 DAY 12: ODUMXAY - HOUA MOUNG (365kms)

It was already bright, even though it was only 6.45am when we checked out from our guest house at Odumxay on Day 12. We started with route 13 heading to Pak Mong. Hey, so long with the nicely paved yesterday’s road. Today, I was surprised with the reality of badly damaged Laotian roads. It was worse than you can imagine. The road winded up to the mountains. I have to slow down due to the road condition and the steepness of the ascending or descending. We passed lots of small villages. The houses were made either from bamboo or straw, with thatched roofs. I saw nude toddlers playing among themselves, and some even walked alone by the road side. This makes me wonder, didn’t the parent concern about his / her safety? The kids, some only wearing panties, waved at us. Again, I wonder, didn’t this kids go to school? In the morning chill, the villagers walked to their farm in small groups.

The damaged, small, narrow and steep road that we passed were almost deserted with other vehicles. However, when once in a while, a vehicle came from the opposite side, they were very fast, especially the pick-up truck. They didn't give a damn about slowing down or moving a bit to the side of the road. There were times that my heart skipped not only one beat, but many beats due to the shock of almost colliding. There was one time that when nature called, and there was no petrol pump around (petrol pumps existed only at bigger towns), I had to ask to use the villagers’ toilet. Unfortunately, their toilet is the river behind their house. So, I was forced to go back to nature, which reminded me of my childhood times when going balik kampung.

The road after Pak Mong (route 1C) worsened as we were now riding on a kampong road. However, the view gets more and more beautiful. The mountains, the trees, the valleys, the terrace rice fields, the corn fields, it was difficult to explain its beauty. As we passed the villages, the families who were gathering at the verandahs of their houses were surprised by our presence. The sound of crickets accompanied our ride. We had to be really careful as not to hit the villagers’ animals such as dogs, cows and pigs. Later, Hadi told me that if we hit a pig (for example), we not only have to pay for the pig, but the owner will charge us according to how many baby pigs the pig we hit will borne in a year. Oh my god!!! We also had to be careful as the crevasse here was very deep and scary. Down the crevasse, small river winding its way and looked very beautiful.

Tiru Zahariz punya posing :)

It was getting dark but we still have not reached our targeted town. It was getting really cold and I was very exhausted after the long ride. We were still in the middle of the mountain jungle. It was dark except for the lights from our bikes. We had to ride slowly because there were many times that we encountered a group of cows transiting in the middle of the road. I was praying inside my heart for god’s help. Finally, we arrived Houa Moung, a small town and a girl at a coffee shop told us that there is a guest house about 3kms away. Upon going to the guest house, I almost fell from my bike because I didn't realize the bridge that I rode on had speed bumps on it. It was so dark that I couldn't see a thing. I was screaming so loud that I think my mom back home can hear me. Thank god that even though I have lost 75% control of the bike, (I don't know how) but I manage to keep it straight. Or else DREAM and I would have fallen into the river.

We checked in at a guest house in Houa Moung after 11 hours of riding, but only managed to cover a distance of 365kms. Three things I learnt today from Hadi. First, never ride on the opposite lane. Second, stop riding before it gets dark, and third, estimate your time wisely when riding on a steep winding road.


I started Day 11 feeling very exhausted, weak and dizzy due to the lack of rest and sleep. However, I am not going to quit. No, not yet. I will try to hold, as much as I can. This morning, we crossed ThailandLaos border via Mekong River. Once everything was done at the immigration, we make our way to the pier. I thought that a ferry is going to take us to the other side of the river, but the so called ferry was actually a floating modern raft or buoyant (or whatever you name it). After we parked our motorbikes, the huge lorries and trucks took their places. It was pretty scary to imagine how if the ‘thing’ can’t hold the weight of all of us. Thank god, we made it safely to the other side. Welcome to Laos.
On the ferry
As usual, before we can ride our motorbikes in a new country, we have to apply for a permit and insurance. Once done, we headed to Huay Xai center for our passport control and changing to Laos currency (kips). Then we moved on. Laos drove on the right side, so it was very confusing for me in the beginning. Fortunately, there were not many vehicles on the road (very unlike Thailand), thus this made today’s ride the most enjoyable ride so far. We took route 3 all the way to Luang Namtha. The nicely paved road which was deserted and hilly, offered a spectacular view of Laos landscape. Hadi was right (again). Laos was lots more beautiful than Thailand

The nicely paved road

After Luang Namtha, we continued with route 13B to Na Teuy, and turn left, heading to Boten, a small LaosChina border town. The curving road was filled with big lorries. We reached the border and took pictures. I was so thrilled. I was laughing, unbelieving that I made it here after all. On our way down, and straight to Odumxay, the ride became challenging bcos of lots of timber lorries on the narrow road. Hadi guided me every time we want to overtake the lorries. It was pretty scary for me. There was one time that the lorry almost pushed me to the side of the road. Another time, a big bug suddenly landed on my face, and in order to push it away, I accidentally pushed my spectacle. It fell on my fuel tank and luckily I managed to catch it. I was riding with blurry vision for few seconds before I managed to stop my bike and put my spectacles on. Haihhh….Total ride today is 350kms, 8 hours.

Lil G & DREAM at Laos - China border


Day 10 targeted destination is to cross the ThailandLaos border to Luang Namtha. But first, Hadi gave me a task, that I were to wait for him at ‘The Northern Most of Thailand’ landmark at Mae Sai. Ever since Day 3, I was leading the way with him following behind, but now, I have to go first and wait for him. I prayed silently, hoping that even without a GPS, I will manage to find the place. Yes, I did (by following route 1), and I still have time for little shopping while waiting for him. Then, Hadi arranged for us to enter Myanmar. I have no idea how he do it, but out of the blue, we managed to bring in our motorbikes, and actually rode in Myanmar!!! We visited the small border town and went to the temple. The road here was concreted and very dusty. I saw women labours carrying heavy cement on their head, while walking barefooted on the road. Life must be hard for them. All along the road, I can see lots of HIV / drug free warning signs. The houses here were similar to in Vietnam, about 3 or 4 storey high, but with small width, very colourful and beautifully tiled. Most of the females put a yellow powder on their faces. We took some pics at the ‘Golden Triangle’ round about. 

 A wat in Chiang Rai
 Chiang Rai's famous clock tower
The Northern Most of Thailand landmark

Thailand - Myanmar border
I'm actually riding my bike in Myanmar...YEAYY!!!

After about 1 hour, we exited Myanmar and continued the ride to Chiang Kong. But before that, Hadi gave me another task, that is to wait for him at the 'Golden Triangle' land mark. He didn't tell me where it was, nor how far the landmark was from Mae Sai. I have no idea how does it looks like, but a task is a task. I have to find it no matter what. I thought it must be at Chiang Saen, but actually it was not. When instinct told me to ask the locals, I hv missed the landmark by 10kms. When I turned back, almost nearing the landmark, the lane to Mae Sai was closed. In order to get back to the main road, I have to go round and round. I found the landmark after all, but I was 45mins late. We then continued to Chiang Khong. I rode on the road alongside with beautiful view of Mekong River. The road was narrow and bumpy, but the winding was tolerable. It was already late to cross to Laos, so we have to stay the night here. We had dinner at a stall selling yummylicious seafood Pad Thai.

3 JUNE 2012 DAY 9: MAE HONG SON - CHIANG RAI (410kms)

In the morning of Day 9, we did some oiling for the chains and then headed for Pai – Mae Malai – Fang – Mae Suai – Chiang Rai. It was a long ride. Half of the day was rain and another half, the sun shines. When it rained, mist limited my vision and I felt cold as we were ascending higher and higher. God knows how glad I am when finally I saw the glimpse of sun rays in between the tree leaves. The road condition was not as good as yesterday’s ride, and not as bad as the previous ride to Mae Sariang. However, the curve was scarier than ever. I kept reminding myself to relax, take slow but deep breath and blow it out slowly. This method helped me to release my tense. I saw some villagers taking their dogs on their pickup truck. I have never seen this in Malaysia (except dogs inside the car). 

The view from Fang to Mae Suai is very beautiful. Green and brown coloured valleys with corn field dominated the way. However, I didn't take any pic as I am rushing to get to Chiang Rai. I was very tired but the ride must be done. We arrived Chiang Rai, the popular tourist town around 8.30pm, covering approximately 410kms in about 11 hours. Its very slow, I know….but being unskillful, I’m doing the best that I can.


Band: NASTIA, Title: ANGGUR (taken from EP 'EKSPRESI')