DAY 96 – Although we had arranged to cycle in a group of six, we left town in a group of four, with two having said they would catch us up in the morning. We cycled out of Savannakhet on the quiet road running parallel with the Mekong river. In fact the road was so quiet we couldn’t find any trace of food for the first 25km!
After 20km we stopped at a small shack/shop and bought a packet of instant noodles each, and asked for some hot water to cook them. Certainly not gourmet, it worked quite well and filled a hole. Our group continued and the two Belgians caught us after about 40km, having left an hour later!
The road ran along the Mekong, and although the river was only visible in a few places, traffic was light and the riding was enjoyable. Our pace increased as a result of cycling in a group and by 11am we had covered 70km, whereas normally we would be around the 50km mark. With our ride for the day supposed to be 120km, the increased pace was welcome as we would be able to get out of the sun quicker.
The three other guys in the group began to go quicker than the girls, but I hung back with Yami and Grace. We caught the guys as they ate lunch, we then all cycled together for most of the remaining distance to Thakek, arriving at about 2pm.
We found a guesthouse and had a few beers, over which we arranged to continue cycling together the following day, where we would start ‘The Loop’, a three or four day circuit that was supposed to be very challenging on a motorbike, let alone a bicycle due to the state of the roads and the gradients of the hills.
We went out for dinner in a neighbouring guesthouse, where we met a few people who had returned to Thakek having completed the loop on a scooter. One English guy didn’t exactly instil confidence as he chuckled when we told him we were going to do it on a bike, basically calling us crazy and saying it wouldn’t be possible, showing us his grazed arm from where he had fallen off as evidence that we wouldn’t be able to do it. All this put a big doubt into Yami’s mind and she went to bed unsure if she really wanted to tackle the loop.