Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Day 59 Wed 25/08 - Phonsavan on a Rainy Rest Day

Today Weather : 20 - 26C Rain all day
Today Spending : 111000k   Total : 1794000k

A day in which you don't feel like doing anything except going to the Internet to update the past few days reports. At 12000k per hour ( Rm 4.80), is double the price as in Malaysia. It usually took me 2-3 hours to finish the job. So you guys at home able to enjoy the stories and pictures. Had decided to temporary take a rest from biking, to get away the boredom, instead I will take a bus to Xam Neua tomorrow. Approx. 9 hr journey costing 110000k. From Xam Nuea is another 100km to the border town of Nameo before crossing to Vietnam.

Day 58 Tue 24/08 - Bamboo Hut Camp Nam Chat - Phonsavan or Xieng Khouang

Today Distance : 84.8 km    Total : 3344.3 km
Today Weather : 21 - 30C   Day cooling Night rain
Time on Bike : 6 hr  30 min
Ave Speed : 13.0 kmh   Max : 55.0 kmh
Ave Climb : 3%             Max ; 12%
Trip Altitude : 1068 m    Max : 1383 m

After 3 days of consecutive Bamboo Hut camping since leaving Luang Prabang, I badly needed to clean up myself,washed all the smelly clothings and to recharge the batteries. So today I am determine to ride to Phonsavan, but was not so sure in doing it as it is 80 km . Mountains ahead for sure, but how tough? and Steep? That will be the main factor!! Started at 8 am. The 1st 57 km have climbs but not too long, then follow by downhills a little , not to the very bottom. More or less I was riding at an elevation between 1200 - 1400m.  A surprise came when after one of the downhill , a vast plain of  grassland plateau, with paddy fields at the lowland and upper land with pine,oaks trees, a great change of vegetation from the rain forest. The villagers houses are built on woods instead of the bamboo and attap roof. With a very cooling temperate weather, the ride from here is much more relaxing, a boaster to my confidence to reach Phonsavan. There was a toll gate before the town but was free for bicycle and also a sign board of world heritage sites in Plain of Jars. My first impression of the town is rather disappointing at the amount of red mud dust flying around on both sides of the road, especially worst when some inconsiderate drivers zoom passed. The road leading to Phonsavan is lovely. But the same cannot be said on the town , dirty, rubbish everywhere. By 4 pm settled in Sabaidee guest house for 35000k. Too tired to think of anything, drop straight on the bed.

Mountain water good for drinking

Fishing pond

A change of vegetation from rain forest

Pines and oaks greenland

World Heritage site -Plain of Jars

US cluster bomb left as decoration

And also flower pots

Riding into the town with red mud dust on both side

Xieng Khouang Hotel at the main junction

Market complex in Phonsavan

Day 55 Sat 21/08 - Luang Prabang to Bamboo Hut Camp 15km b4 Kiewkacham

Today Distance : 63.8 km   Total : 3137.4 km
Today Weather : 27 - 42C   Sunny and Hot all day
Time on Bike : 5 hr  36 min
Ave Speed : 11.3 kmh   Max : 54.5 kmh
Ave Climb ; 4%             Max : 14%
Trip Altitude : 1329m     Max : 1045m
Today Spend : 35000k      Total : 1546000k

Unlucky day for me with a fall off the bike from a 15km downhill over a patch of running water at a sandy bend .With my speed of 40-50kmh, when I noticed the danger in front,I slowdown trying to control and balance the bike, but in vain as the tires hit the sands, the bike and I landed on the left hand side,my left pannier was thrown out from the rack, no damage for the bike but my left thigh suffered bruises, nothing serious, a rest of 20 min to cool down the pain and I am on the bike again. Today's weather is extremely hot ( max 42C) couples with the long climb with no shade to hide from the heat. The climbs in fact started right from Luang Prabang,gradually for 27km to Vieng Ngeun and then came the steep climb of 14 km to the top before the 15 km downhill. The bamboo hut camp is only the midway of the 2nd climb. Tomorrow the climb continues to Kiewkacham and hopefully able to reach  Phou Khoun which is another 65 km away.

Lao lady selling noodle at road side

My breakfast and pick your own on the pork stomach

A look out point at the hill on Luang Prabang with the Mekong River

A really good place to dream

Fruits stalls on top of the Hill before the descent

Location of my fall with running water and sands on a downhill
Very high and steep rock cliff
Left thigh brushes
My favorite stop
Bamboo Hut Camp
Nice to see a sun flower around

Day 56 Sun 22/08 - Bamboo Hut Camp b4 Kiewkacham to Bamboo Hut Camp 5km b4 Phoukhoun

Today Distance : 61.9 km      Total : 3199.3 km
Today Weather : 21 - 32C    Rain on and off
Time on Bike : 6 hr  17 min
Ave Speed : 9.8 kmh    Max ; 50.5 kmh
Ave Climb : 4%            Max : 12%
Trip Altitude : 1482 m   Max : 1405 m
Today Spend : 43000k     Total : 1589000k

Not a person of easily give up, but today I had to raise the white flag,just 5km short to Phou Khoun.The mountains here is just too much to handle.One after another, testing your power and patience to the limits, physically and mentally exhausted. Some may argue"Only 5 km, why stop?" 100% agreed and thought the same, but when you are already 6 hours on the road,labouring at a speed of 9.8 kmh. There was a moment i thought I can make it with a downhill but when it started climbing again with the last 5km. That was the time I finally had enough of it. This Bamboo Hut camp have 2 water sources from the mountains where the villagers bathe. I just needed a good wash and water for cooking.Could this be the reason for stopping? Who caress....

Misty morning start
Chance to get a wash here
Happy to see this Restaurant when I am staving
No variety at all, everywhere in Lao served the same noodle
Another spectacular view of the mountain greenery after the rain
Certain time can be very misty
Sudden rain with no way to hide
Lao family invited me to join them for lunch at one of the rain shelter
Laos kids are always curious when they see a farang
Sun shine on my wet cloths
Bamboo Hut camp at a village 5km to Phou Khoun

Day 57 Mon 23/08 Bamboo Hut Camp Phouhoun to Bamboo Hut Camp 5km to Nam Chat

Today Distance : 60.2 km    Total : 3259.5 km
Today Weather : 21 - 32C    Sunny cooling all day
Time on Bike : 4 hr  42 min
Ave Speed ; 12.8 kmh   Max ; 57.0 kmh
Ave Climb : 4%             Max : 11%
Trip Altitude : 1030 m    Max : 1507 m
Today Spend : 67000k    Total : 1656000k

A short ride to Phou Khoun, a small town with a small roundabout.Left turn is to Phonsavan on route 7and right turn is continued route 13 to Vientiane. I stopped here for 30 min to buy some camp foods and had a bowl of beef noodles. For the 2nd time, I lost my sunglasses again,no idea whether was stolen or just misplaced somewhere. Luckily I managed to buy another one for 20000k in a shop. Route 7 is much lesser traffic than route 13, road are much better, terrains are good,not so tiring like yesterday,at least for today, tomorrow is another day. I also passed from Luang prabang province to Xieng Khouang province. From the tourist handouts, Xieng Khouang has 4 out of 5 highest peaks in Laos, and temperature can drop to zero during cold season. This place also came under heavy bombing by the American during the 2nd Indochina War against the Communist Pathe Lao and the Vietnamese. I don't think Nam Chat to have any guest house, so I settled again in a Bamboo hut 5 km before the town. It seems that the bamboo huts along the way are my favorite camping spot. Very cooling when you sit or sleep on it with air blowing from the bottom.No dirty wet tent and most important - No worry for rain!!

Road that I rode earlier view from the higher side
Villages built at the edge of the Hill
Phou Khoun Town roundabout
Secondary school in Phou Vieng
Into the Xieng Khouang Province
Roads and villages at the ridge of the Hill. The far end white building is the school
A spectacular switchback on the downhill
A bamboo hut surrounded by banana trees and hill paddy fields
Bamboo Hut that I camped
 rock melon but not sweet
Come to Laos and experience a night stay in this
With my tent setup to avoid the mosquitos and insects