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The tha khaek extended loop in 3 days

Posted by pookair on 21/9/2015 at 02:35

We started doing the normal loop mid September. When we got to the first town mahaxay we decided to do the extended loop. It was about 11 am.
The directions on travelfish were good and we followed a decent sand road with occasional bumpy and muddy patches. After taking the left turn in a small intersection we drove for about 55 km until the petrol station( travelfish states 65k). From where we continued straight into the town because we weren't sure it was the right petrol station(it was the right petrol station there's only one)
In the town we saw a sign to the cave noted on travelfish as an Indiana jones experience. It's called Xe Bangfai cave and home stay 14km. Side note * we think the town is Kok and its 8 km passed the petrol station in case you missed it.


Being 4pm we decided to drive there for the night.
The route included a rickety bridge you need to walk across a few bridges you can't cross and have to cross shallow streams or find alternative routes through the forest. Huge deep muddy sections that it is impossible to ride through. We encounted a few locals all on foot except one that was riding through the forest with a shining kalchnikov (click here) he recommended riding through the forest to pass some of the impossible muddy sections.
After that some very technical descents and ascents and mud and mud and more mud.
Being young and stupid we persevered.

At 6pm after around 9km we reached a waist deep river that we did not find a way around or through.
We where alone there and it's was getting dark.

We decided to turn back.
Going at night was dangerous and tough physically and mentally lots of insect bites and minor hits and slipping and sliding. The technical sections at night consisted of the two of us walking the bike through the section then going Back for the second bike. We were not sure where the turnoff to the jungle was to avoid the deep mud and decided it was safer to try go through it then get lost in the jungle. 100m took around 40 min for 2 people and 2 bikes going one bike at a time and 2 people pushing Walking in knee deep mud. Where the bike is sunk in the mud engine or past deep. Eventually got back to town at around 2030 and managed to find somewhere to stay at the back of a shady bar (could of been a brothel) we washed using buckets of rainwater.

The next day we head back to the petrol station for gas and took the left turn to continue the original extended loop. The amount and price of canoes was very different from what we expected. The original post states 10,000kip for 1 river crossing. We had 4 and prices ranging from 10 to 20 thousand each after bargaining for way longer than most will feel comfortable (the prices did not change after bargaining). The road was not good but definitely drive able. One river crossing had huge stones and we decided to take the bikes through by hand. After grueling work passing the first one the locals recommended going around through the village something we did not know was possible. I went to meet my friend on the other side while he drove through the town only to find him on a bridge
Blocked by a rope held by a kid and an elder lady asking for fee of 10,000kip, We refused to pay the locals were passing for no noticeable payment. It seemed like a lifetime of driving off road until we reached the heavenly asphalt of route 12. Pushed to lak Sao for the night. The road between nakai and lak Sao is great for the first ~60 km (the road 1e) after that it's a dirt road for the rest. On the third day we woke at 6 am road to the Kong Lor cave and back to tha khaek arriving at 1930 after dark.
The bike we rented from wang wang 2 Honda wave I 110 in good condition and had no problems expect needing to tighten the chains on both at the second day ( reasonable considering what we put them through)


So while we did the extended loop + attempt to reach the mysterious cave in 3 days we do not recommend it especially in the rainy season.

Some leaving thoughts(rainy season):

Xe Bangfai cave is a tough one (right now in the rainy season) expect a full day for it regardless of the short distance.

The extended loop is cool if your not a super pusher take another day for it and your going to get muddy

Account for more than 1 river crossing ranging up to 20,000kip per bike and some extra. 100,000 kip person is a safe bet. Right now there seems to be some serious bridge construction this might change.

Will recommend not doing the extended route alone especially if your going for the Xe Bangfai cave.

Avoid riding at night if possible.
The first hour is the worst all the flying bugs go ape sh*t.

Go slow on the roads take the riding at the asian pace slow and easy. Be wary of kids animals potholes and speeding hillux's.

Thanks to travelfish for their excellent work
And huge thanks to my brother my friend my partner to this journey they same one that I sat next to when we wrote this durbachj

#1 pookair has been a member since 21/9/2015. Posts: 1

Posted by durbachj on 21/9/2015 at 02:40

...Forget all what we said.
It was amazing. The views, the places and the people. Do the extended loop, not for the caves but for the experience and let us know how you found it.

Also a huge thank you to Pookair for taking me far out of my comfort zone and back again and travelfish.org for guiding me on my journey.

#2 durbachj has been a member since 9/8/2015. Posts: 1

Posted by mikal83 on 21/9/2015 at 04:50

Holy... mud up to your elbows..... Batman. Hope it all dries up b4 we get there in late ish Nov.

#3 mikal83 has been a member since 19/1/2015. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 140

Posted by Alex_Design on 21/9/2015 at 05:57

Sounds good. We'll be there in the beginning of December. That cave is on the list already.

#4 Alex_Design has been a member since 21/8/2005. Posts: 9

Posted by Gogomobile on 21/9/2015 at 07:20

Sounds no fun at all the way you described it.

#5 Gogomobile has been a member since 14/4/2015. Posts: 412

Posted by mooball on 25/9/2015 at 21:49 TF writer

Sounds fantastic. I wrote that extended version for TF a few years back and it sounds like it's quite similar to what it was back then. It's a great trip and certainly a little more adventurous than doing the standard loop. Glad to hear that you guys found it useful!

#6 mooball has been a member since 19/6/2010. Location: Australia. Posts: 439


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