Friday, 4 September 2009
Since my last report from Savannakett in Southern Laos, we've advanced to the capital, Vientiane. I say "we" with some reservation, as Leana probably got tired of my "Ugly Mug" (who can blame her?) and sent me on may way. However, fate has a way of intervening, and on that very day her front wheel hub collapsed. After struggling along, she "happened" to find me where I was staying for the night. After sourcing an ancient rusty spare hub at a small all-purpose store the following morning, I spent most of that day repairing Leana's bike. We subsequently cruised to Vientiane via some beautiful river- and hilly tropical scenery - very tasty dried/smoked fish at the roadside! Vientiane, on the banks of the Mekong river, is not at all a bad place as far as capital cities go - I've been cycling around a bit to explore the place, including the giant stupa in the picure (I'm sure it has a name). The "Arc De Triomph" (it also has a name) was built in 1959 from cement donated by the USA for airport construction - now some jokers refer to it as the "vertical runway". The main problem for me was still that I had limited gears due to a useless middle chain-ring. I'd been informed of a good bike shop in the city (the only one), which happened to be closed for the first 4 days after we arrived. Once re-opened, Leana bought a new front hub, but my spares would have taken too long on order so the owner gave me a 2nd-hand part - which is better than what I had, but won't last long. I was still focused on heading for China (even after all the disappointments in that regard over the past year or more), so I applied for a visa - which was granted, no questions asked! As it seemed so easy Leana also got a Chinese visa, but now she's not quite sure what to make of it. Daily distances cycled since my last report were:- Tha Khaek 131 km; Vieng Kham 109 km; Pakxan 91 km; Ban Hai 90 km; and Vientiane 70 km. Total distance cycled since leaving Cape Town at the start of this journey is 46 010 km.