Friday, 2 October 2009
After spending a week in Vientiane it was time to get a move-on through the North of Laos as once again, our visas were running short. For the first day or 2 up to the backpacker hang-out of Vang Vieng the terrain made for a relaxing ride. After that the Earth turned on its side as we found ourselves grinding up long mountain passes and flying down the brake-smoking counter sides. On the uphills Leana tended to pull away from me, due to my heavy bike as well as my reluctance to put pressure on the already worn second-hand parts (or perhaps she’s just stronger than me). However, on the downhills my bike, Old Saartjie (a good downhill runner) was almost unstoppable. I had to know my braking in the innumerable bumpy corners, else me and Old Saarjie may have still been hanging from the branches in the beautiful indigenous misty mountain forest. The last 2 days to the border were the slowest, with the broken road surface adding to our problems. Heavy rain turned the unpaved sections into a veritable clay pit, coating tyres and making for some fun “ice-skating”. At least there was a heroes welcome at the crest of every big hill, where there was usually a village. Even the local motorbikes had trouble, as was evidenced by skid marks and tell-tale footprints in the mud. As has happened from time to time, at our last stop before the border we stayed at the same place as 2 other cyclists (Julian and Aurore from France), on their way South from China. Daily distances cycled since Vientiane were:- Hin Hoeup 102 km; Vang Vieng 69 km; Kasi 61 km; Phou Khoun 47 km; Xiang Nguen 106 km; Luang Prabang 26 km; Pak Mong 116 km; Oudom Xai 84 km; and Natei 82 km. Total distance since leaving Cape Town is 46 703 km.