Category 2012 Cycling South East Asia

Pakse to Champasak (40 km)

We rode on the south side of the river and it appears that there was a better road on the north side. Either way, an ok ride towards the 4,000 islands. 

Lots of colleges along the way. Small campuses each with a different focus. 

Lots of fruit in season

Many young people know how to use sling shots. Janis stopped and spoke to some local boys near a woods and she saw them pick off several geckos with sling shots. They take them home for food. 

Sling shots


Sun set in Champasak


Rice noodles drying

Did you know tapioca was a root?  We didn’t. It is the cassava root. 

          Casava root wikipedia

Tapioca factory

Champasak is home to a very ancient temple Vat Phou Originally built in the 5th century. Originally it was a Hindu temple but changed to a Bhudist temple...

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Sabaidee Valley Resort to Pakxong (25 km)

This was a very pleasant up hill ride, first passing the Dao coffee factoy where they roast, freeze dry and package much of the instant coffee for he regin. The plateau is perfect for growing coffee beans and tea leaves. 

While Pakxong is close to the Ho Chi Ming trail, and was bombed quite heavily, they have rebuilt a lot of this industry. 

It is difficult to say just how far back the fields are cleared of UXO’s (un-exploded ordinances).  

Our first stop was at a small private coffee farm and we had the tour.  

          coffee and tea plantation tour

Coffee beans

Next we stopped at several lovely waterfalls and had a dip at two of them. 

One of the falls


Swimming under the falls


The highest falls

When we pulled into a guesthouse in Pakxong we met a field manager for UXO...

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Ban Pueng to Nakon Phanom (104 km)

It was another relatively flat day, and included one flat tire. It happened during our normal fast morning ride time.  It was a very small piece of metal, and tricky to find. We have had more flats in 6 weeks than all the other 9 months of cycling combined. Could it be the tire quality?  Janis is running on premium Schwalbe Marathon Racer tires and I had no-name tires (don’t ask why).  

One of the key ways they cook in SE Asia is with charcoal.

Every day we pass Tuk tuk’s delivering and selling large bags of charcoal. They make it in these over a on the roadside. 


Oven for the Making of charcoal

 Well the last few days we have been taking riverfront small roads vs highway. For some reason the dogs are extra nasty...

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Vientiane to Nong Khai (22 km)

It was a quick trip to the Thailand border and we already had our visa so things went relatively quickly at the crossing. We met another cyclist, Valerie and spent the next few days hanging out at a lovely guesthouse in Nong Khai. 

We were back in the land of pad Thai, spicy food and 7/11’s.   

Ancient Chinese Medicine

Little birds on a spit

Janis can relate to the elephant – chased by dogs

Sculpture park

Our guesthouse was very relaxing and gentle and a little oasis in the Mekong, a garden setting. We met 6 cyclists and spent time together. Some were hard core and some were like Janis and I, only on a 3 month trip.  I booked a gig playing guitar at the local bar. The pay was amazing, I got 1 free water. The crowd was sparse, the guitar did not stay in tune but I had fun. 

Sunset

B...

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A few days in Vientiane

We spent a few days exploring the sights of Vientiane. A lovely city with lots to see. Also I replaced both my front and back tire.  

Night Market


Sunset at Vientiane


A VW diner

We also spent several hours at the COPE Centre. This is an organization dedicated to helping Laos people missing arms and legs. Most of the clients are recent cluster bomb victims. This subject just does not go away. And it shouldn’t.  This country is affected daily by unexploded bomblets.  Below is only a light sampling of what we have researched. By no means is it complete or can grasp this in a few days of research.

In 2012 when we toured the killing fields we were proud to see Canada leading the way on global legislation about the use of land mines...

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Tha Ngon to Vientiane (32 km)

Highway 10 was torn up between Tha Ngon to Vientiane so we took a new road 12 km across to highway 13. We traded the red dirt for busy highway. 

The next 20 km into town were very busy and quite interesting. Vientiane has had a lot of Feench influence over the y ears and the architect shows this influence. 

Below is a set of rules in one of our guesthouse. Note rule 5 and 6. 

Rules of the guesthouse

Bye for now. 

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Hin Hoeup to Tha Ngon (83 km)

Before leaving Hin Hoeup we captured the Monks doing their 6 am daily begging. The locals provide food and they pray for them. You may hear the prayers at the end of this video. 

          Monks in the morning

The actual ride had a bit of hills and the last 60km were relatively flat.  The last 30 km were on bumpy dirt roads. At the start of the dirt road we shared it with 100’s of kids coming home from school, on tuk Tuk, walking and bikes. They were a very happy bunch (something we didn’t see in the mountains (schools or joyous children)).  

One group of cyclists challenged me to a race. I played cat and mouse and let them stay equal and then let the Canondale engineering kick in. They had old steel one speed bikes with wide tires and loose and missing bolts...

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Vang Vieng to Hin Hoeup ( 65 km)

Another day of ups and downs. The roads were in good shape. Not too much traffic. We were not sure where we would stop but when we pulled into Hin Hoeup, we felt it was time. There were lots of fruit stands and some local restaurants. We took a chance that we could find something to eat. 

Along the way we started to see one of the largest lakes in SE Asia. It is man made due to a dam. We saw lots of dried and fresh fish. Some 3 foot catfish at the markets. 

Dried fish


Big catfish


Weaving at the side of the road

Lovely work

Rolling down the road. 

          A ride through town

Both times we were in Northern Laos, we bought some Laos children’s books from an organization called “Big Brother Mouse”. We gave them to poor rural schools along our journey...

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Kiu Kacham to Warm Springs 25 km south of Phou Khoun (75 km)

This was another climb day, although not as tough as yesterday. We pulled into Phou Khaun around lunch  time and got a standing ovation from a group of Belgium tourists travelling in a van. They passed us on one of the climbs and were a bit surprised by our age. 

This dusty cross roads town had a few guest houses, with shared squat toilets. We decided to add anothe 25km to our day and push through to a warm springs down the road. We hear there is a few bungalow with your own toilet (enough to entice us to do the extra 25 km). 

Mountain view.


R and R.

Selfie

So this warm springs was used extensively by the locals. Because the water flowed so fast it was remarkably clean. We went for our bath just before sun rise, before the local people use it...

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Xiang Ngeun to Kiu Kacham (53 km)

Well this was to be the toughest day so far and it was. We started out at 7:30 and immediately did a 16 km climb. After a lovely downhill we do a 24 km climb. For us 40 km of mountain climbing is a long day. We pulled into town around 3:30. 

Our strataegy at the end was to ride km up and rest 30 seconds. This allowed us to break the climb into bight size parts. The short rests allow our bodies To readjust without getting complacent. 

One of the characteristics of a cycle tourist is they do whatever they have to do to deal with what is in front of them. Bitching about being sore or whining about the road ahead is not acceptable. We are here for the experience (whatever it is). 

The chart at the bottom of this photo shows the route we took today. We like to know what our day will be like. 

O...

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