Kiu Kacham to Luang Prabang

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.

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Namxa Noy to Kiu Kacham

DAY 112 – With a big day ahead we got up before sunrise and ate a rice and fried egg breakfast at the guesthouse before setting out around six thirty. Grace left about fifteen minutes before us, saying she preferred not to eat so early in the morning, so we set out alone thinking we would see her again at some point during the day, as we had done the previous day. We sailed downhill for the first three kilometres before the hard work began in the form of a twenty kilometre climb, which would gain us around seven hundred metres in altitude.

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Vang Vieng to Namxa Noy

DAY 111 – We rode out of Vang Vieng, stopping briefly at the market on the northern edge of town to buy breakfast. We avoided the grilled frogs and rats, and opted for some sticky rice and pork skewers instead, which we decided to eat a bit later.

Whilst not yet entering the mountains proper, the road from Vang Vieng to Namxa Noy undulated and involved a gradual climb for the first 40km, followed by a 3km steep uphill, before falling down again towards Kasi. The gradual uphill was easy riding and we cruised along, covering the 40km in a few hours.

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Vang Vieng

A few days off

DAYS 109 & 110 – With our flights back to Australia not for another three weeks, and we only had another three days riding until reaching Luang Prabang, the endpoint of our tour, we decided to take a few days off in Vang Vieng to explore some of the caves in the area.

We originally intended to use our bikes to explore the region, but leaving town along a rocky dirt road we decided not to risk damaging the bikes unnecessarily, and instead hired a scooter for the first time on the trip. A days rental of a scooter came to 40,000 Kip (US$4.50) if we returned it by 8pm, or 70,000 Kip for 24 hours.

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Phon Hong to Vang Vieng

DAY 108 – Another pre-sunrise wake up meant we set off before dawn once more. Finding food at this time proves to be a little challenging and we generally have to ride a few kilometres to a town along the road to pass some time until the restaurants have opened and managed to cook something. This was the case again today; we didn’t find anything until we had ridden about 15km to the next large settlement, where we found a place selling noodle soup.

With stomachs full, we left the restaurant and immediately began a short but steep climb. From this point the road maintained an up and down momentum for the next 45km. All the ups and downs meant we continuously changed gears, which exposed a slight problem in the adjustment of Yami’s front derailleur, which kept throwing the new chain off the largest chainring, and wouldn’t allow her to use the middle chainring without the chain slipping. After a few roadside adjustments it seemed to work better, though not perfectly, forcing the occasional stop to put on the chain again!

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Vientiane to Phon Hong

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.

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DAYS 104 to 106 – We spent three full days in Vientiane, relaxing, eating baguettes, drinking fruit shakes and generally doing as little as possible. We managed to do one mornings worth of touristy things, but in general we didn’t do very much at all!

Many tourists, especially backpackers, pass through Vientiane without stopping or only stay one night, saying there is nothing to do, but we liked the city. True, there isn’t that much going on, but there is good food, its not too busy and it has a good atmosphere. We spent a few evenings wandering around the road by the Mekong, or sitting and watching the world go by.

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