Chiang Khong, a small cozy place on the Mekong, is my last destination in Thailand. Here they just opened the fourth friendship bridge to Laos. Alan Bates is a world record holder for cycling around the globe and has a guesthouse here. Seems like the place to stay, but he is not home. So he missed me:-).
Getting into Laos was no more problems than filling out the visa papers and paying your 35 USD. I skipped Houaxay the bordertown in Laos and went straight on. This is the north of Laos and pretty wild, it feels like stepping back in time. There are mostly tribal people living here which are quite poor. They live in bamboo huts on poles. I also don’t see many machines, most of the work is still done manually. Altough live looks hard here they seem to be pretty content with it. All the small kids run up to the road, when I pass by, to wave at me and the older ones just wave and say hello. The Lao people have a very laid back attitude.
The north is basically mountains and dense forest, very beautiful. The temperatures are a bit lower here, which for me is an added bonus. Not stopping in the bordertown was not smart, I know now. Coming from Thailand where food is evrywhere available, made me a bit lazy. This part of Laos is quite empty and the few shops I passed don’t have much to sell. Of course I found something in the end but it is something to keep in mind. There is no problem of getting bottles of water tough.
Always bring some bananas.
I’m cycling on Highway 13, a road from north to south through Laos and passing all major cities. My kind of route on the way to Cambodia. In the north the road quality is very bad. The stretches over the higher mountains have no asphalt anymore and the rest has alot of holes. I do meet some fellow cyclers here, but hey this is the only road.
Altough not the easiest part of the route it is the most intresting till now. The countryside is basically jungle and some rubber and coffee plantations.
The scenery is beautifull
Plenty of water buffalo’s in Laos.
The road brings me to Luang Prabang. The first city I meet with some decent guesthouses and good food. I stay an extra day here. The city is famous for it’s old temples, but I didn’t look much at them. My resting day was more important at the moment. And for this Luang Prabang is also perfect.
Hopefully the rest was enough , because the next days will be alot of climbing. After the big climbs the lanscape becomes quite strange looking with all the limestone rocks. Also many caves.
Slowly the big hills disappear and the route flattens out towards Vientiane, the capital. This city I pass, because I cann’t waste too much time anymore. Visa is only valid for 30 days and I want to reach the Cambodian border cycling.
The way south is now flat and the route 13, the main route, has decent asphalt. But I get off once in a while to stay closer to the Mekong and then roads are not good anymore. Unhardened in different states of bad and passing streams over wobbly bridges and sometimes no bridges. (wade through)
Close to the Cambodian border are the “4000 islands”. On the biggest, Don Khong, I stayed for two days. If I had more time I would have made some boattrips to the other islands and maybe see some sweet water dolphins. And above all do alot of nothing, the speciality here.
The route till now in Laos.