Reaching base camp, Thakhek loop with extreme cold weather!

Our crazy road trip around Thailand and Laos on a tricycle (saleng).
  • Saleng expedition #47
  • Vientiane > Paksan > Na hin
  • 278 km / 173 miles
After many bike repairs because of the bad roads in Laos (or bad driving :-)) we decided to change the plan. Skip the 4000 islands and so shorten the trip by 750 KM / 466 miles. Still, we needed to stay in Laos until our visa run out to be able to stay in Thailand until we can catch our flight out of the country. Yes, badly planned, I know! But, this gave us some more time to include: THE LOOP!

The loop, or Thakhek loop, is a scenic motorbike ride in the middle of Laos. Most people start from Thakhek driving North over 'road 12' to Nakai, following the road to Lak Sao and change to 'road 8' towards Na Hin (go and return to Konglor cave) and continue to Veing Kham to get on the Asian Highway 13 (AH13) to drive back to Thakhek. Being a Crazy Dutch, we did it the other way around - skipping the highway we've been following more or less since Luang Namtha. But, we didn't expect extreme cold weather!!! For sure we're in the tropics for too long, we wear sweaters if it gets below 25 degrees Celcius/ 77 Fahrenheit - but this was Siberian weather in the tropics!

The Guardian newspaper posted this about the weather on the 25th of January: "The cold was caused by a polar vortex, a large cyclone that pushed south from Siberia and unusual meteorological occurrence for east Asia... At least 95 people die as record-low temperatures in region bring snow and ice cause flight cancellations and leave thousands stranded" Click here to read the original news feed.

It all started off easy! Changing the capital Vientiane and the Fresh baguettes for great road conditions towards The Loop! But, as soon as we hit open fields - it turned cold and windy!

People make bonfires to keep warm and wear heads, gloves and blankets! Wearing everything I've got, just like the locals!

Warming by the fire and eating anything hot! Same food, different day: Pho (beef noodle soup).

Wearing a blanket like a pro! At least for one hour...

The speed indicator broke and the saleng was still pulling to the right. Annoying, but not our main concern! Seeking warmth!!!

We had to stop in Paksan after 148 KM / 92 miles, we couldn't move our limps, etc... Before searching for a place to stay we needed some hot food and drinks. We found Saynamsan Restaurant and were soon invited to join a family lunch and drink Lao Lao shots (rice Whiskey) to warm up. It helped! ;)

Phetlivong Hotel, a brand new hotel right across the street! Perfect after the drive and Lao Lao shots!

Map of day 1, Veing Kham to Paksan.

The next day: Paksan to Na Hin!

Reaching base camp; Na Hin town! It probably looks different with normal weather, but this is the market and the main road. Luckily we found a place with a sitting area inside, Dok Khoun restaurant, which is rare in Laos. They used the hot pots to warm-up the place. We barely left that table for the next few days...Wearing running shoes, two pairs of socks, a LavaCore shirt (sort of wetsuit), 10 layers of summer clothes and a head but still missing a winter jacket!

Phamarn (View) Guesthouse.

Accommodation recommendation: Phamarn (View) Guesthouse, Kong Lor Cave, Koun Kham
Book with Agoda
Book with

Map of day 2, Paksan to Na Hin.

This is part 1 of the Thakhek Loop with saleng.

Click here part 2 of the Thakhek Loop with saleng!

Click here part 3 of the Thakhek Loop with saleng!

To be continued, stay tuned!

  • 4334 km / 2693 miles done total
  • 1666 km / 1035 miles to go
  • 66 days done
  • 26 days to go
  • 34 provinces crossed
  • 11 provinces to go

Phuket - Phang Nga - Ranong - Chumphon - Prachuap Khiri Khan - Phetchaburi - Ratchaburi - Kanchanaburi - Suphanburi - Ayutthaya - Lopburi - Singburi - Chainat - Uthai Thani - Nakhon Sawan - Phichit - Phitsanulok - Sukhothai - Uttaradit - Phrae - Lampang - Lamphun - Chiang Mai - Mae Hong Son - Chiang Rai - Bokeo - Luang Namtha - Udomxai - Luang Prabang - Vientiane (khwaeng) - Vientiane (prefecture) - Kamphaeng Nakhon Wieng Chan - Bolikhamsai - Khammuan - Nakhon Phanom - Mukdahan - Kalasin - Roi Et - Maha Sarakham - Buriram - Nakhon Ratchasima - Nakhon Nayok - Pathum Thani - Nonthaburi - Bangkok

Saleng expedition, intro
Phuket Town to Laem Phrao, and we're off! (Saleng 1)
Laem Phrao to Khao Lak, the Dutch bobsled team! (Saleng 2)
Khao Lak to Praphat, thumbs up! (Saleng 3)
Praphat to Ko Phayam, saleng on board! (Saleng 4)
Ko Phayam, time to relax! (Saleng 5)
Ko Phayam to Ranong, hot springs & Loy Krathong! (Saleng 6)
Ranong to Thung Wua Laen (Chumphon), coast to coast! (Saleng 7)
Thung Wua Laen (Chumphon) to Bang Boet Bay, scenic route! (Saleng 8)
Bang Boet Bay to Thap Sakae, we have a problem! (Saleng 9)
Thap Sakae to Prachuap Khiri Khan, aircrafts crossing! (Saleng 10)
Prachuap Khiri Khan to Hua Hin, snakes and dead end roads! (Saleng 11)
Hua Hin, we need business cards! (Saleng 12)
Hua Hin to Petchaburi, visiting a tropical vine yard! (Saleng 13)
Petchaburi, amazing cave temple and aggressive monkeys! (Saleng 14)
Petchaburi to Kanchanaburi, discovering the walking directions of Google Maps! (Saleng 15)
Kanchanaburi, King's Day & Light & Sound Festival 2015 (Bridge over the river Kwae)! (Saleng 16)
Kanchanaburi, Bridge Over The River Kwae! (Saleng 17)
Kanchanaburi to Ayutthaya, being the attraction and escort service! (Saleng 18)
Ayutthaya, writing Thai and some cultural differences! (Saleng 19)
Ayutthaya, ruins, strange tuk-tuks and Christmas time! (Saleng 20)
Ayutthaya to Lopburi, going Dutch! (Saleng 21)
Lopburi, bikers in monkey town! (Saleng 22)
Lopburi to Pho Prathap Chang, why didn't we get a car? (Saleng 23)
Pho Prathap Chang to Sukhothai, HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY Birthday! (Saleng 24)
Sukhothai, saleng at UNESCO World Heritage site! (Saleng 25)
Sukhothai to Phrae, we're not the slowest! (Saleng 26)
Phrae, think big! (Saleng 27)
Phrae to Lampang, 2000 km done! (Saleng 28)
Lampang, ladies not allowed! (Saleng 29)
Lampang to San Kamphaeng, visiting an elephant hospital! (Saleng 30)
San Kamphaeng to Chiang Mai, we made it before Christmas! (Saleng 31)
Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son, Christmas time in the tropics! (Saleng 32)
Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son loop with saleng! (Saleng 33)
Muay Thai in Chiang Mai! (Saleng 34)
Countdown party 2016 in Chiang Rai! (Saleng 35)
Saleng to Mae Salong, the little engine that could! (Saleng 36)
Mae Salong to Chiang Khong, opium at the Golden Triangle! (Saleng 37)
Border crossing with saleng, we're in Laos! (Saleng 38)
Luang Namtha outdoor adventures! (Saleng 39)
It's too cold in the tropics! (Saleng 40)
Off the beaten track! (Saleng 41)
Relaxing in Luang Prabang! (Saleng 42)
Peak performance: Saleng at 1900 meters /6233 feet! (Saleng 43)
Tubing in Vang Vieng! (44)
Eating dust while reaching 4000 KM / 2485 miles! (Saleng 45)
Fixing the bike, one more time! (Saleng 46)
Reaching base camp, Thakhek loop with extreme cold weather! (Saleng 47)
Konglor Cave, underground river adventure! (Saleng 48)
Finishing the Thakhek Loop with the saleng! (Saleng 49)
Relaxing in Thakhek! (Saleng 50)
Border crossing with an unidentified object! (Saleng 51)
Farang in Isaan! (Saleng 52)
Reaching 5000 KM / 3107 miles around Roi Et! (Saleng 53)
Tree hugging and Khmer temples in Phimai! (Saleng 54)
Tasting new latitude wines in Khao Yai! (Saleng 55)
Cruising through Khao Yai National Park with the saleng! (Saleng 56)
We made it to Bangkok! The final chapter! (Saleng 57)
SOLD the saleng! (Saleng 58)

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