Category 2015 Cycling South East Asia

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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Luang Prabang to Xiang Ngeun. (26 km)

This was a short and relative flat ride. We did this to prepare for the next few days, where there are not so many guest houses. 

 As well internet access will be limited and basic so it will be a bit tricky setting up videos etc. 

Large tree

River weed drying at the roadside

A very basic room for he night

Bye for now

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A few days in Luang Prabang Laos

This is a world heritage location and is quit amazing to visit. The town is bustling with merchants and street vendors and action on the rivers.  We were here in 2012 and have loved it both trips. 

Sunset in Luang Prabang

A swim at the falls.

We spent time at the UXO Center (unexploded ordinance). This is a UN driven organization that removes unexploded bombs from rural Laos. This was a very sobering visit to this Center. 

There were two wars happening in S E Asia in the 60’s. The first one was the Vientam war.  While things started in the 50’s the first ground soldiers landed in 1965 And left defeats in 1975. This is a war that many of us were aware of rolling newspapers and Walter Cronkite.

At the same time there was a secret war going on in Laos...

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Chaing Khong to Luang Prabang by Boat

We spent two days on a long narrow boat from Thailand boarder to Luang Prabang Laos. We were going downstream on the Mekon River. 

 

Loading bikes on the boat


Shore view

 

Village on the riverbank

We met many nice people on the ride and all shared their adventures  

 

Bye for now. 

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Chiang Saen to Chiang Khong (55 km)

It was a foggy day so we did not ride the coastal road. It was still 55 km with two climbs. 

Below are some photos as we left. 

Sunrise from our hotel

In town, there were many Chinese freighters. They were all empty and not moving. No new ones were coming in. That seemed a bit strange. 

Chinese freighters

The article below in the Bangkok Post may explain why the ships were stationary. 

          Article in the Bangkok Post

The Mekong River flows from China through Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam (Mekong delta). We have viewed it in all but China. It is so vital to the 60,000,000 people who live along it. 

Below are two articles about the Mekong. 

     A bit of Mekong history

     A life along the Mekong – National Geographic

Janis picked up a small piece of metal in her...

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Mae Sai to Chiang Saen (45 km)

Today took us past the golden triangle. This is a very historic area. It was one of the largest opium growing regions in the past. Afghanistan is now the leading grower.  India use to be a large grower and England (who colonized India) sold opium to China in trade for. Silk and spices. According to the museum we went through, 1 in 30 Chinese were addicted to Opium. This led to the first Opium war (1839-42) between China and England. The end result was that England was granted Hong Kong and held it for 155 years. The second Opium war (1856-60) was the start of modern China .

Opium was used in a lot of strange ways. They even gave it to elephants to calm them down. Last time we met an ex-CIA person who was now living at the Thai/Laos border...

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Pa Tueng to Mae Sai (60 km)

We decided to bypass the highway and bike an extra 15 km to see the countryside. First up was a hot spring where the initial water is too hot to touch. 

People boil eggs in this part

I could barely put my feet in this section, quite far from the source. 

Feels good on the sore feet

Next Up was some time spent in the rice fields. There is a brief video below. 

          Working the rice fields

Thailand produces lots of rice but Only a fraction of what China grows. 

          Global rice growth chart

It is quite easy to pass a rice field and forget just how much work there is to grow and harvest rice. Below is a link to how this happens in rural Laos. They often times don’t have tractors to use. 

          Steps to grow and harvest rice

Next we arrived in Mae Sai...

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Tha Ton to Pa Tueng (50 km)

As you saw in our Tha Ton post, we had a lovely view of the Kok River and watched the taxi boats leave for Chaing Rai. It looked quite peaceful and sane. Plan A was to do this or Plan B was to ride towards Mae Sai. Plan B would take us up another mountain and would give us the view to more hill tribes and include a lively Hill Tribe market. 

Of course we took the mountain ride. Why pick the easy way. Haha

At the market


More market


All different Hill Tribes

Below is a little video about the market. 

          Hill Tribe market video

Now, about the dogs in Thailand. There are 100’s and most are not on leashes. Some driveways have 4 or 5 dogs. I love dogs but hate the fact that some want to attack you on he bike and some on Thailand have rabies...

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Chai Prakan To Tha Ton (55 km)

This was a lovely downhill ride.   We stopped along the way and enjoyed the trip. Lots of temples, small villages and rice farms. 

Kids playing soccer on an island on the Kok river

Here is a brief video of fishing in the Kok river.   

       Fishing the KoK River

There is a 9 stop high up a large hill to various temples. It appeared to be a pilgrimage for many Buddists. They Re struggling to retain the young monks and many of them can be seen in the 7/11 convenience store or the cell phone stores. 

A novice Monk

Tha Ton is a lovely sleepy town where one road leads towards the golden triangle and the river flows to Chaing Rai. Tomorrow we will have to decide if we wish a 3 hour boat ride to Chaing Rai Or a 50km ride through the mountains, that passes through many Hill Tribes. 

Gat...

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