04 September 2009

CYCLING LAO - Savanakket to Vieng Kham

22 August 2009 - Savanakket – Tha Khaek - 131km - day 877

After another day in Savanakket, we finally left, heading north. The road was hilly but at least we had some cloud cover for most of the day. Along the way we stopped for some refreshments and if that was not a frog soup with noodles, then I don’t know at it was!!

Everyone who runs or cycles knows the feeling of gasping up a hill and those little flying bugs gets sucked it right when you least need it. This time it was a crispy one and before I could say “Laidback Laos”, it was down the gullet. No matter how I spat it was gone, well what can one do? Just swallow some water and carry on!! I thought I could feel it crawling around my stomach all day, or maybe it was just the frog.

23 August 2009 - Tha Khaek - day 878

We spent a day of leisure in Tha Khaek; it is such a peaceful town. We got a take-away pizza and had a beer overlooking the Mekong River with Thailand just across on the opposite bank.

I went local and invested in an umbrella. Ernest like a true South African finds it real hard to walk past anything that looks like a braai, but to his surprise found not chops and wors, but pig intestines and a bowl of crickets. Of course, here in Laos there’s usually also some rather scrawny chicken portions on the coals.23 August 2009 - Tha Khaek - day 878

We spent a day of leisure in Tha Khaek; it is such a peaceful town. We got a take-away pizza and had a beer overlooking the Mekong River with Thailand just across on the opposite bank.

I went local and invested in an umbrella. Ernest like a true South African finds it real hard to walk past anything that looks like a braai, but to his surprise found not chops and wors, but pig intestines and a bowl of crickets. Of course, here in Laos there’s usually also some rather scrawny chicken portions on the coals.23 August 2009 - Tha Khaek - day 878

We spent a day of leisure in Tha Khaek; it is such a peaceful town. We got a take-away pizza and had a beer overlooking the Mekong River with Thailand just across on the opposite bank.

I went local and invested in an umbrella. Ernest like a true South African finds it real hard to walk past anything that looks like a braai, but to his surprise found not chops and wors, but pig intestines and a bowl of crickets. Of course, here in Laos there’s usually also some rather scrawny chicken portions on the coals.


24 August 2009
Tha Khaek - Vieng Kham
107km

Ernest and I, once again, decided to part ways. So I set off on the road, with an immense sense of freedom. The first few km followed the “great wall” and I felt good after a day of rest but the euphoria didn’t last long. Shortly after I left my front wheel started wobbling like an eggbeater. It was like cycling with the brake on and hard to go in a straight line. After a 107km and 7 hours of cycling (that’s cycling time, not including stopping!!) I finally reached Vieng Kham totally exhausted.

Lo and behold, would I not meet Ernest at one of the three guesthouses in this tiny village. Probably not as strange as that was about the only place to stay within a stretch of 200km. I could tell that he was not all that impressed with my arrival, but I was too exhausted to care.

Nevertheless it was a scenic day, hilly and hard but still very scenic. Never a dull moment on this trip!!

25 August 2009 - Vieng Kham - day 880

First thing in the morning we went looking around for a new front hub for my bike, and found an old rusty second hand one, probably from the 1800’s. Ernest spent most of the day working on my bike, and what a good job he did too, considering what he had to work with.

He even had time to go to the market (testing out my “new” front hub) - for some salad stuff and petrol for his MSR stove. At a little roadside stall they did not want to sell him the petrol (which is sold in empty drink bottles), and the reason? - they thought the stupid “Falang” wanted to drink it!!. After a long animated explanation they eventually decided that it was safe to sell him the petrol.

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