Monthly Archives February 2012

Touring Luang Namtha & Muang Sing Area

This is a lovely area of Laos, with lots of Tribal Ethnic Villages (this is what the Locals call the area). We had 3 days of touring with a great local guide. His name is Ped (Luang Namtha Discovery Tours). We stayed overnight in Muang Sing at a lovely guesthouse. While we were having dinner a Laos volunteer English teacher asked if we would come to the makeshift class room and let his 4 student practice English. We went in and spent a lovely part of the evening helping these 10 and 12 year old girls practice English.Read More

Na Mor to Luang Namtha

Another hilly but great ride. It was 69 km’s with no major pass, but many ups and downs. Today we did 691 meters of total ascent and 734 meters of total decent. We had perfect road and little traffic until we hit Nateuy. At that point we could head north to China or go south towards Thailand. We went south. This was a good road (not as good as the road we were on this morning. There were more big trucks and buses on this road.Read More

Oudamsay to Na Mor

Another great riding day. It was only 53 km, but included a 16 km pass. Basically, get on your bike at East City IGA and ride up Armour hill for about 16 km. Whoever built this road made it with an acceptable slope (not as steep as Armour Hill).

This pass started at the 17km mark and there was a few km of up and down plateau near the top. This pass rose 550 meters.

Total assent ror the day 798 meters, and total decent of 812 meters.

The road was in excellent shape, with no potholes.

Last night we went for dinner at a small cafe. The owner was alone so when she cooked, she asked Janis to hold her 11 month old daughter.

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Muang Khoua to Oudomsay

This may have been the greatest biking day for us ever. It was 100 km with a total assent of about 1,100 meters and a total descent of about 980 meters.

The scenery was striking. The road was in excellent shape, and very little traffic. It was about 35 degrees C but we had a cloud cover most of the day.

We followed the Nam Phak river the whole way, which ment no major ascent of descent. Many of the villages have abandoned both slash and burn techniques as well as harvesting Opium. They are replacing it with bamboo production as well as broom grass (this is the grass that they band together to make brooms.

Many of the small towns we passed were composed of people who use to travel around planting, harvesting and after a few years, slash and burn the fields and then move on...

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Nong Khiag to Muang Khoua by boat

We took an amazing 5 hour boat ride up the Nam Ou river. They placed our bikes on the boat along with the luggage. There was a slight charge for each bike.

At this time of year,there are many rapids and our 45 foot long by 4 foot wide long-boat took them head on. There were a few hairy moments but the driver appeared to know what he was doing. There were about 6 tourists on the boat and about 12 local people.

Our first stop was one hour up the river at Muang Ngoi. We decided not to stay here, even though it looked like a nice stop. Many years ago, one could live there for $1 per day and all the Opium you could consume. They have upgraded the village and eliminated the Opium dens.

Next we carried on for 4 more hours up river, stopping at various villages...

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Pakmong to Nong Khiaw

This was a lovely little ride up and down the rolling hills. It was 32 Km to the guest house we chose right across from the bus station.

We took a bit of R&R and enjoyed this sleepy little town. Again we were overwhelmed with the nice slow pace the Laos people follow. This town had a great atmosphere, with both Lao food and some western choices.

We went to a set of caves outside of town, where the village and surrounding villages spent several years living during the USA Bombing of Laos. It is too bad, as Laos declared itself neutral in the cold war conflicts. Even so, the VC trained in the hills of Laos and the USA bombed the hell out of it. They say for the first little while, the Laos people were in the caves, unaware of who was bombing them, as they had no enemies.

If you use THE GOOGL...

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Luang Prabang to Pakmong

This was a lovely ride. It was 115 km in total we decided to get a tuk tuk out of Luang Prabang and biked about 85 km into Pakmong. There are lots of hills and a large assent at the 70 km mark. The road is in great shape with a few small broken stretches. Traffic was quite lite. The people are so laid back, polite and kind. We passed small villages along the way.Read More

First Day In Laos -Luang Prabang

When we landed in Luang Prabang we had to finalize our visa application. This was very formal and took on the feeling of a very controlled and locked down state. Canadians have to pay $42 for a 30 day visa, while most others only pay $30. We are not sure why. We got our bike boxes and luggage and took a tuk tuk to our guesthouse. It was a lovely place on the bank of the Nam Khan river, which flows into the Mekong river.Read More

Siem Reap

After great review, discussion, researching and pondering we decided to put our bikes on a bus to Siem Reap. It turned out to be a wise choice as the route we would have riddent appeared quite busy, with lots of construction, a narrow road and little or no shoulder. The bus took 6 hours.

Siem Reap is very much a tourist town , with lots of amenities. We had a nice hotel with a pool. The days were hot and a nice swim was a bonus. We stayed several days, with the main fock the Ankor area. This is a UNESCO site, with over 300 ancient temples. We took a two day guided tour and saw the main highlights.

The original city of Ankor was the largest city in the world at one time (per-industrialization time).

Ankor -the UNESCO Site

These temples date back 860′s AD...

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A Few Days in Phnom Phen

We took a few days here to get a better understanding of the recent history of Cambodia. It too has been a bit of a pond in the cold war.

Over the last couple of centuries it has been as large as 20,000,000 people and included Siam (Thailand), parts of Laos and parts of Vietnam. There is military action currently happening at the Cambodia border.

Their recent past has been bloodied.

They were a French colony for about 100 years (it is said that the French were invited in the 1850′s to regain the Seam Reap area from Thailand. Cambodia gained full independance from the French by 1953.

By 1960 Prince Sihanouk lead the county until a 1970 right wing coupe.

In April 1975 the Khmer Rouge took over till 1979. This was a very dark time for Cambodia...

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