Another huge day, to be honest I’m quite happy about it as I’ve not been pedalling for a few days now. Starting in a foggy Luang Probang, I set off down pretty much the only road that head south and into a couple of huge climbs, the first 15km long, the second 25km long. They weren’t as brutal as the others I’ve done in Thailand, but still big enough to take me above the height of the highest mountain in Scotland with over 2000m of climbing in total. I passed a Swiss couple who were travelling a bit slower as they were stacked with kit, having cycled all the way from Europe (they are cycling to Singapore). The many, many children on the roadside all shouting out “Sabadee!!” (hello), and doing a high five as I passed, made the ride much more enjoyable. It was only the young kids who would say hello strangely, often actively encouraged by their parents. Every village had it’s own bustling primary school, though the abandoned looking hospital I saw in the afternoon (which had obviously been built by a well meaning charity) didn’t look up to much. Nobody qualified in medicine?
Later in the afternoon, I followed a ridge, along which were scattered several villages. Often, the only water source in the area was a hive of activity, with people bathing, washing dishes, and collecting water. I have noticed that women seem to do much of the hard graft in Laos (often while looking after a baby), while men seem to sit under trees admiring the view. What can I say, Laos is a bit behind the times!!
Thankfully after 110km (mostly up) and 8 hours in the saddle, I stumbled upon a brand new guesthouse on the ridge top with an awesome view, as well as brand new mattresses, sheets and pillows. The seasoned travellers among you will appreciate how much this means!!The next day should have taken me to Vang Vieng, though the huge day yesterday must have taken it out of me, so I stopped late morning in Kasi which is a bit of a dust bowl what with all the big trucks thundering through. Later on, the Swiss couple I had met previously stopped for the night at the same guesthouse, so we had a bit of a blether about each other’s trips. It was only another 55km to Vang Vieng the next day, with very little climbing. This morning I seemed to attract the attention of some of the older kids, who had obviously been learning English at school – “Where are you from?” (which must have been asked 20 times as I cycled along). “Scotland!” being the default answer tended to get blank looks, though rather worryingly when I associated it with whisky, one particular lad in his early teens got all excited and seemed to understand…
I am staying in a hotel right next to Vang Vieng’s abandoned airport landing strip – deliberately away from the center of town as I have heard it can get a bit crazy with westerners later at night (though if I am honest, I’m appreciating the western food which is good for cycling energy). I’ll happy to move on from here tomorrow though, as it is a bit of an over priced tourist trap full of people who want to get off their heads then float down the river in an old inner-tube.