We wanted to get an early start, but Noom’s coffee shop was serving brownies and waffles and we decided we cannot miss that! So after a b’fast at 9 and a dose of pomello that Noom sliced for us, we hit the road. We had to do some money exchange, I was down to my last 5 bhat and Chris had to get some usd for the visa.
After all the shenanigans, we hit the ferry at 10:30. It was a quick affair getting across Maekhong. 40 bhat person and 40 more for the bike. The boat took off with just the two of us and before we knew it, we were in Laos. Just as we were heading into the immigration, we met another welsh tourer, Jeff, who was heading into Thailand after his month riding in Laos. Cool. So we did our paperwork, it was free for me (woohoo!) and we chatted with Jeff for a while. Picking his brains on Laos and the conditions etc.
It started to rain hard, as we chatted and we all had to wait it out. We were initially planning to get, may be, 80 or 100 km in, but the more it rained, we decided it would be a much shorter day. The rain eased, but we could see another’s front blowing our way. So we decided to get lunch and wait it out. Jeff is a cool chap and has done a couple of months in Vietnam and Laos and he is on for a few more months in the region before heading down under for the winter. It’s always nice to chat with fellow cyclists.
When we bid farewell to Jeff and got on out bikes it was 2 pm. Well may be if we are strong, we could get 60 km in today. The ride out of Huai Xiao was gentle and we got a view of Thailand before heading off inland.
Laos has been a very welcoming place, all the kids are playing on the streets and offer a toothy grin with loud hellos and bye byes. It was hard to keep waving to the kids on the street, but hey it’s worth it! Everyone we have met till now, has a smile. If there were more people in Laos, it will give Thailand a run for its title on being the most smiling country 🙂
The road lead into the mountains and after 20 km, it was rolling hills followed by a real big hill. We had decided to start looking for camp spots at 5 pm. But as the time neared, there were not any villages in sight and we were still heading uphill. We saw a few Wat’s earlier in the ride, but nothing as we approached 5 pm. The road descended into the valley and I spotted a small village with what seemed like a barn where we could take shelter, I waited for Chris. He wanted to check if the road descended still and whether we had a village further on. But the road was rolling and we headed back to our initial spot.
It turned out to be a school, a safe place given tomorrow is a Sunday and we parked out bikes and tried to head out for a shower. We walked down the village and saw that the villagers were taking a bath in a river running through. Well what’s stopping us joining them! We walked in and jumped in the fresh cool spring water and washed ourselves up. I suspect we are probably the first non-Laotians who dipped feet in this stream and we had the village kids and their parents watching us frolicking in the spring.
We found some soy milk and walked back to cook our dinner. Most small villages in Thailand tend to have some restaurant, but in Laos seems like that’s not an option. We had packed some instant noodles from Chiang Khong and it was time for me to open up my kitchen!
Trouble: my bottle of alcohol had broken due to the knocks it had taken in the past months and most of the fuel had leaked out. Luckily, I had enough to boil up water for the both of us and some more left over. Sweet. So we cooked up our dinner under the watchful gaze of a dozen curious kids and a couple of piglets and knocked off in our tents in the classroom!
Laos starts with a interesting rustic, naturalist lifestyle. Lets see where it takes us!
Distance: 70 km
Ascent: 2000 ft
Descent: 1600 ft
Time in saddle: 4:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 17.08
Comments: Bath in a fresh stream. The good life!