DAY 107 – After three rest days in the Laos capital it was time to move on, so Yami Grace and I rode north out of Vientiane to begin the final leg of our trip, the three hundred kilometre ride over the mountains to Luang Prabang.
The early morning ride out of Vientiane, about ten kilomtres along the road on which we had entered the city, saw us pass a city coming alive as day broke. We passed saffron clad monks as they walked the streets, barefoot, giving blessings in exchange for food, and the smell of fresh bread wafted into our nostrils as we rode past baguette vendors lining the road. The morning markets were already in full swing as we passed. Fruits, vegetables, barbecued meats and a number of other foods were available, but we had eaten in the small restaurant opposite the guesthouse before leaving, so we rode by without stopping.
We turned onto Highway 10 and almost immediately left the city behind. Traffic died down and we were soon riding through the usual paddy fields and open countryside. We stopped for a coffee in a small town after about twenty five kilometres, where an English speaking man asked us about our trip and wished us luck as we left.
I had read the road condition of Route 13 was pretty bad, so although a few kilometres longer, Route 10 turned out to be a good choice as we didn’t have to contend with any traffic and the road surface remained asphalt for the entire journey.
About fifty kilometres into the day, we stopped again for coffee. As we drank, a Spanish guy on a bike rode past and stopped for a chat. He told us about a ferry to cross the river, a futher fifteen clicks along the road, which would take us back towards Highway 13. We had a little difficulty finding it but in the end it was straightforward and for 2,000 Kip each (about US$0.25), we crossed the river on a very local ferry, although I don’t think this ferry will be in existence for much longer as a new bridge is currently under construction.
From the ferry, it took us about an hour to reach Phon Hong on the junction of Highway 13, where after a little searching we found a clean guesthouse for 80,000 Kip (US$10.50) on top of a short steep climb. To keep the costs down we shared the room with Grace.
With not much going on in Phon Hong, we rode down the hill to Highway 13 where we sat in the shade of the awning of a small shop, ate some sandwiches and watched the buses and their passengers for a while as they stopped to buy drinks and snacks. In the evening we ate a dinner of rice and eggs. As we ate, an older dishevelled looking French guy rode by on his bike, smoking a cigarette. He asked about a guesthouse and we told him, but he baulked at the price and rode on. We never saw him again so are not sure if found some other guesthouse or pitched his tent somewhere.