DAY 113 – Our legs felt decidedly stiff after the climbing of the previous day, so we were grateful of a twenty kilometre downhill to start the day! Flying down the hill at speed in such an early hour can be very cold, so we each put on an extra layer or two for the descent. As we sped down the hill we overtook several slow moving trucks, which would later re-overtake us on the long uphill section!
The descent took over an hour, but only lasted so long because we stopped frequently to take photos. As we approached the bottom of the descent, we were enveloped in cloud of early morning mist, which hung over the river at the base of the valley, waiting for the sun to rise above the mountains and burn it off.
Although the base of the valley was only 600m above sea level, the mist gave the air a decidedly chilly feel, but we were not complaining as we could begin the next part of the road a fifteen kilometre climb – in relative cool. As the previous day the climb wasn’t steep, but it just kept going and going! We took a couple of hours to reach a H’Mong village near the summit, where we each downed a bottle of Pepsi while the curious locals stared at the falang in their village. As is the usual, the kids came out and smiled and waved as we passed, but when we stopped in their village for a drink they ran and hid!
With the hardest portion of the day complete, we enjoyed another ten kilometre downhill before stopping for an early lunch, after which we had twenty five kilometres to ride to Luang Prabang, These were mainly flat, with one short sharp uphill with which to contend. The ride from Vientiane to Luang Prabang proved to be tough work, but completely worth it, and it turned out to be a really cool end to the tour. Anyone coming to Laos should ride this section, but in the same direction as us, as the other way the hills looked longer and steeper!
After many difficulties and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, we arrived in Luang Prabang to complete our tour, stopping for a photo and a hug to celebrate riding in excess of 5,000 kilometres over 113 days, from Kuala Lumpur to Luang Prabang, spanning five countries.
For someone who has reminded me on many occasions that “she is not a cyclist”, I am very proud of Yami for sticking with it throughout the tour. Having never even owned a bicycle before setting out on our first tour, her accomplishment is something to be proud of, although in the last few weeks I’m sure she has begun to contemplate that she is actually becoming a cyclist!
Once in Luang Prabang we easily found a guesthouse which set us back 80,000 Kip for a good double room and wandered along the banks of the Mekong and reminisced about all the times we had seen this mighty river on our trip, firstly in Phnom Penh, then the boat ride along the river to Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta, five days riding in the Delta region of Vietnam, Savannakhet, Thakek, Vientiane and now Luang Prabang.