DAY 99 – After a relaxing day in Tha Lang, Victor, Grace, Yami and I left Sabaidee Guesthouse to continue riding the loop. The 60km section to Lak Sao had supposedly the worst section of road, however the first 15km went smoothly along a road that is under construction but only asphalt remains to be laid.
We again rode along the artificial lake, created by the flooding for hydroelectric power plant. The amount of land destroyed by the flooding is sad to see, but that’s the price of progress I assume.
After 15km we came to a section of road where the construction works began in earnest.to pass one section we had to wait fifteen minutes as a bulldozer tipped earth over the side of a mound above onto the road below, and an excavator then threw it over the edge into the valley below. There was no way we were passing, so we had to sit and wait until they moved their stockpile and cleaned the road off for us, and the other waiting traffic, to pass.
For the next 25km, the road really deteriorated into a rocky track, and it was more like downhill mountain biking than bicycle touring. The road is definitely passable, and it would be excellent fun on a proper downhill mountain bike, but I just wanted to get back to smooth roads as I didn’t want anything breaking on the bikes. By the time we reached the construction zone at the bottom of the hill, I was relieved and thankful that indeed nothing had broken. The downhill reminded me a lot of the most dangerous road in the world in Bolivia, without the 1000m sheer drops off the side of the road!
The final section into Lak Sao was on the same dusty but smooth(ish) surface and we arrived by midday. Unsure whether to continue or not, Victor and Grace eventually decided to stay in town and continue to the junction of Highway 13 the following day. We were never in doubt. We were staying in Lak Sao!
We checked into the Lonely Planet recommended guesthouse for 50,000 Kip (US$7), and I started a trend of cleaning the bikes. After a couple of days riding on dirt, all the oil on the chain had been clogged up, so I spent an hour or so cleaning mine and Yami’s bikes, and double checking the rocky road hadn’t damaged anything.
We went out for a look around the town, which being only 30km from the Vietnam border was full of Vietnamese. Also being a dusty crossroads town, there wasn’t much to see, but we kept ourselves entertained in the local market, before a dinner of BBQ chicken, boiled eggs and sticky rice, followed by an early night.