Ban Naxay to Vientiane

DAY 103 – With only 60km to Vientiane, we set off early and arrived by 11am. We were pleasantly surprised by the 20km downhill, downwind section into Vientiane which sped our journey. On arrival in the city, we popped into an internet cafe and checked emails to see if Victor and Grace had sent a message letting us know where they were staying.

They had, and we made our way to the Heuan Lao Guesthouse, where we found Victor and Grace and got a double room for a capital-city-inflated-price of 100,000 Kip (US$13).

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Paksan to Ban Naxay

DAY 102 – With 147km to go until we reached Vientiane, it would be a little too far to complete in one day, so we decided to cycle to Ban Naxay, a town about 90km from Paksan, leaving us about 60km to Vientiane the following day.

We left Paksan at sunrise, stopping for breakfast of noodle soup where we watched the monks as they performed their morning walk around town, receiving food in exchange for a blessing.

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Vieng Kham to Paksan

DAY 101 – With Victor needing to cover the 250km to Vientiane in two days, in time to arrange a bike box for his flight to Tehran, he and Grace decided to ride ahead past our destination of Paksan, thus leaving themselves with a 100-120km day the following day, so after breakfast we said our goodbyes and they rode off ahead. We caught them at a roadside shop just as they were leaving, but we stopped for a drink and they continued on.

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Lak Sao to Vieng Kham

DAY 100 – A later than usual start for the last leg of the loop, we left the guesthouse at 6:30 and had a breakfast of noodle soup from the local market. The undulating road took us and down first 30km, but it turned out to be mostly downhill and the kilometres flew by.

We stopped for a rest and a coffee in a small village before riding through the flat rice paddy fields. The mountains in the distance came ever closer as we gradually approached, and it became evident we would soon be climbing what would be the first of two big passes during the day.

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Tha Lang to Lak Sao

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.

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Thakek to Tha Lang

DAYS 97 & 98 – With another 100km day on the cards, Yami, Grace and I left at sunrise in order to get a good head start on Charlie, Niels and Victor, who would leave an hour or so later and catch us up at some point.

We found breakfast just before leaving Thakhek and made our way onto Route 12, east towards Vietnam. Soon after leaving town the road began to wind through striking limestone sheer cliff faces, although the stiff headwind meant we had our heads down and were pedalling hard, rather than enjoying the scenery. It took us the best part of two hours to cover 25km, and the three guys caught us by 8:30, having cycled at  an impressive 30kph into the same strong headwind as us!

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Savannakhet to Thakek

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!

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