Today we were up early and were ready to hit the road under cloudy skies. Chris had chewed thro his chain and had to replace it and rotate his tires too.

Once he changed the chain, the bike seemed to have had a complete meltdown and the chain slipped thro his cranks. We tried to investigate and firstly realized his new chains were at least 6 links shorter. Without the chain removal tool, we were a bit helpless and walked down to a motorbike shop to do some rural method of hammer and nails to salvage some links form his old chain to add to his new. After that the chain still had no purchase on the cranks and it slipped thro with any little effort on the pedals.

Melanie had gone to work by this time and we were rolling up and down the streets trying to analyze the issue. We finally figured that he has pretty much chewed thro his cranks and some of the smaller cogs too and there was no way for him to ride the bike up any hills until we replaced his drive train. Now that’s a bit of a bummer, but to be honest, a problem that we expected to happen to all our bikes at some point in the journey.

We had to figure out our way forward, I could still go on without Chris and let him figure out a solution, but hey, that’s not how I roll. I think when we are on the road together, we stick thro with the issues. So we talked about it and my view was that we should take a bus down to Vientiane (the capital, and hence a place we can find a decent bike shop with spares) and fix the bike. The issue would be that we’d have to take a few days break to do this repair run and probably ride north from Vientiane, thus changing our route and plans.

Chris thought about it and figured that would be the best option in hand and we’d have to stick around in Luang Namtha for another day or two and scout for buses heading down south.

It would be a 24 hr ride to do 600 km in windy and twisting roads. We figured we could check out options on riding into Myanmar when we are at Vientiane and apply for visas if possible there. That way, we could make this detour work to our advantage and as we head north we get closer to Myanmar and hop into that part of the journey easily.

So the rest if the day we spent sitting in a cafe, with one bike down, we could at best walk around this town and the heat was too intense for us to walking the streets. We met Andrei and Karin, who are kiwi folks and own the forest retreat cafe.they had good stories to share on their journey and how they ended up in Luang Namtha! There is something about this town that seems to keep travelers stuck!

We had lunch there and I tried, unsuccessfully, to update to iOS7. Guess servers are swamped and I would get in on it much later.

We had to find a place to stay for the night (or two). Melanie showed up in the evening and she couldn’t host us for the evening. But hey, she’s been wonderful in taking in complete strangers and I can’t thank her enough for that! She even called her friend Rene, who was originally our couch surfing host, and told us he’d be home in the evening. Awesome.

Rene came by the cafe and he is another super chap, with great love for outdoors and traveling and very passionate about micro finance. He had been in a field trip all week and didn’t honk twice before asking us to follow him to his place. I know I am going to have an interesting time hanging out with Rene. So we headed to his place and he suggested going to a sauna! What?! Yes, a sauna.

It was a local spot with wood burned steamer with fantastic lemon grass infusion and a rustic shack. Ah man, the things I discover with the locals! This is good life, we spent about half an hour walking in and out of the sauna and feeling totally refreshed and relaxed. This one was gentler than the “Russian crematori” I hung out at in baikal, but of so relaxing!

We headed to the night market and I had my usual noodles. Most of my friends from town were there and as I was finishing my noodles the fellers at my bench got up… And I, who was precariously perched in the corner took a tumble, with a bowl in one hand, chopsticks in another and hot soup still in the bowl. I did a Nestor, and acrobatically saved my soup from spilling all over, heh. The entire market watched me and as I got up, they just stopped short of applauding me and nervous laughter turned to giggles and hushed talk about, “did you see that!”

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Rene is a cyclist and a hiker and asked us if we’d join him for a trek on Saturday! We were planning to leave on Saturday, but dropped that idea immediately and decided to go trekking with Rene! Luang Namtha is really turning into a black hole here. I am loving the people we are meeting and the town too!

We went back to his house, which was huge and had a spectacular view of the river and a cozy room for us to sleep in. Luang Namtha is one of those places that makes one feel so at home!

Distance: 0 km
Ascent: 0 ft
Descent: 0 ft
Time in saddle: 0:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 18.33
Comments: Plans change, Change with it!

Track Notes