Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day 46 Thu 12/08 - Vieng Phoukha to Luang Namtha

Today Distance : 67.6 km      Total : 2719.9 km
Today Weather : 25 - 30C     Fine cooling whole day
Time on Bike : 4 hr  09 min
Ave Speed : 16.2 kmh       Max : 56.0 kmh
Ave Climb : 4%                 Max : 18%
Trip Altitude : 604 m          Max : 819 m
Today Spend :

This is my 2nd trip to Luang Namtha,the provincial capital of Luang Namtha. The last trip 2 years ago was backpacking with my ABM trekker Yong. Nothing much has changed since then,I still remember very well the street,the few guest houses and restaurants , except that this time I ride up a steep gravel road to a famous Misay temple up on top of a hill, with a good look over the whole town. This temple resembles like a Tibetan temple I saw in Kamanthu,Nepal. Today,s good weather makes riding so much enjoyable with morning mountain coolness,rolling freely on small hills , except for only one giant hill. Started at 8.10am and completed at 12.30pm. Met a few South Koreans youngster sent here by their Government on voluntary projects in nursing and IT, we had lunch together but foot our own bill. Love the Darasavath guest house, big clean bed with attached bathroom cost 40000k. Plan to stay 2 nights here before I continue my ride south east to Oudomxay, 120km away hopefully in 2 days!
Nice road with lots of greens
Negotiating a sharp bend

One tree hill

Energy refiling stop

Lao worker working on the power cables

Luang Namtha main street

South Koreans on voluntary projects

Lao traditional musical instrument

Ride up to the Misay temple

Bird eye view of Luang Namtha

Misay temple in uang Namtha

Night market

Nice wooden chalet style room with clean bed

Home cooked dinner with half bbq duck and a bottle of Beer Lao

Day 45 Wed 11/8 - Ban Nam Phre Homestay to Vieng Phoukha

Today Distance : 27.9 km    Total : 2652.3 km
Today Weather : 26 - 33C   Intermittent rian the whole day
Time on Bike : 1 hr  26 min
Ave Speed : 19.3 kmh      Max : 61.5 kmh
Ave Climb : 3%                Max : 8%
Trip Altitude : 168 m         Max : 0
Today Spend : 109000k   Total : 322000k

Vieng Phoukha was my intented stay yesterday,but because of the rain and exhaustion, I was forced to put up with the Lao homestay. That,s probably the reason for a short ride of 28 km today, another reason is to have a good rest and a chance to wash the dirty bike and clothings, to dry under the sun to get rid of the smell. Sorts of re-organising myself after 2 days of  hard rainy ride. Vieng Phoukha, surprisingly is not what I expected to be a moderate town, It is just another bigger village than the rest on the main route 3, but there are a few guest houses, a small market and many groceries stalls, missing are the many eatery stalls like in Thailand. I did a little marketing and cooked my own dinner in the Phuet Mung Khun Guest house. I like this wooden chalet style guest house , with a big grass land outside where I dried my clothing. Very cheap 30000k,but electricity supply only from 7 pm - 10 pm.
Misty wet morning to start the ride

One of the tourist attractions in town

Hardware store

Afternoon market scene

Good wash and dry with a bid grass land outside the guest house

simple room

Dinner with sardin, beam fried with eggs

Day 44 Tue 10/08 - Ban Namthong Homestay to Ban Nam Phre Homestay

Today Distance : 43.3 km    Total : 2624.4 km
Today Weather : 26 37C      Intermittent rain the whole day
Time on Bike : 4 hr  46 min
Ave Speed : 9.0 kmh         Max : 51.0 kmh
Ave Climb : 5%                 Max : 17%
Trip Altitude : 1152 m        Max : 1105 m
Today Spend : 41000k      Total : 213000k

Another day of homestay in Ban Nam Phre. It was already 4 pm when I reached here, the sky is threatening with a thunder storm looming anytime. Doesn't want to get caught, so I rode into one of the house to try my luck for a stay. No disappointment with my first attempt, I was invited to join the owner and another 2 friends for some sticky rice and Lao whisky ( Samsom ). I was reluctant but to show my goodwill, I drank 3-4  round and feeling high , straight I went to the bed to rest. But later I was awakened by big noise of shouting and kicking, I saw 3-4 people trying to keep the owner calm by carrying him by the hands and legs. The owner was not in his normal self after too much Samsom, I was spared luckily! While the owner was put to bed, I join his wife and daughters for dinner, shower in the open tap and went to bed early.
Morning wet ride

Many kids in Laos. Less entertainments high production!

Another steep climb coming up
Always like to stop and enjoy the scenery when reaching the top

Vast paddies fields in low land

A big hill and a small bike

sweating like mad so shirt out

Hill top village

Evening scene

Family dinner

simple foods

The owner in purple shirt, I don't know who belongs to who

Day 43 Mon 09\08 - Houay Say to a Village Homestay in Ban Namthong

Today Distance : 53.5 km     Total : 2581.4 km
Today Weather : 26 - 43C   Morning rian but hot in afternoon
Time on Bike : 4 hr 01 min
Ave Speed : 13.3 kmh         Max : 68.5 kmh
Ave Climb : 5%                   Max : 12%
Trip Altitude : 765 m            Max : 808 m
Today Spend : 57000k        Total : 172000k

The first taste of Laos hospitality is a surprise homestay in a village of Ban Namthong. I was really exhausted and running out of steam,having tasted the true colour of Lao mountains. Although my start was delay to 9.30am due to morning rain in Houay Say but turns extremely hot in the afternoon,with temperature a record high of 43C. There is a vast difference cycling in Laos compared to Thailand. You got a lot of attention here when riding passed a village,shouts of "Sabaidii" comes from every corners,children ran out from their attap bamboo houses,waving their hands to have a glimpse of a "falang" riding a funny bike. I had to slow down at times in respond. The Route 3 is considered a main highway,but found many portions of the road were damage and scrapped off, while waiting to re-paste with new tar. Nobody know when till the next sponsorship comes in. Unlike Thailand, there is little crops planting, the villagers are poor and barely living on very basic without much support from the Government.At the village of Ban Namthong groceries stall, I had to distribute 25000k of sweats and biscuits to over 20 kids who surrounded me while I enjoy my drinks. One of the man named Santhon,in his 30's speaks very little English, invited me to his house nearby. He is a doctor but his house is not much a different from the rest. He take cares of the health of about 150-200 villagers. There is no pipe water supply but stream water from the mountain. There is a generator to generate electricity,but no one is paying the petrol to run it. Had the chance to experience a real Lao traditional dinner with the whole family members: Santhon,his wife, baby and father. A dinner if you can called that ; no chicken or pork but eel soup ; no choy sam or kai lan but leaves and sooths from the jungle,unknown to me. But I am not complaining and eat more than them. In return I brought my MSR stove out to boil hot water and makes hot 3 in 1 nescafe for them. No light, no tv, no music, the whole village in total darkness and quietness, mind you it's only 7.30pm !! My earliest sleep so far...

Lao noodles

Kilometer stone to Luang Namtha

Main transportation for goods

Lao roadside stall

Famous side dish ( Khaw Leng Feun )

A section of bad road

Shelter for rain
stone laid section of road waiting to re-tar

Things you want to avoid on the road

The many faces of Lao kids

She is a girl when I carried her down

Pigs in black skin

Mountain stream flowing near the village

Santhon' house and the clinic next door

Bathed and washed with the water directed from bamboo

Doctor Santhon treating a patient

My sleeping corner

Dinner time from left Santhon's wife and father

Closer look at the dishes

Goodbye before I leave