Pakxong to Savannakhet

DAYS 94 & 95 – Still not on speaking terms, we rode the first hour of the day in silence, until we met a pair of Kiwi cyclists on the Highway. They were a couple in their 50’s and we had a good chat on the side of the road for about fifteen minutes.

For some reason, whenever we meet other cyclists on the road it gives us a boost and this time was no exception, as we began to talk to each other after we said goodbye to the Kiwis!

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Khong Xedon to Pakxong

DAY 93 – We began early on our first day riding on the main north-south Highway 13, stopping at the junction for the road back to Salavan for the unappetizing sounding breakfast of chicken innards on a stick and sticky rice, but which was actually quite good!

The day was scheduled to be over 100km, as we had read there would be no guesthouses between Khong Xedon and Pakxong, however we did see three in a small town about 45km north of Khong Xedon, but we reached these before 10:00 and it was too early to stop.

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Salavan to Khong Xedon

DAY 92 – Less than a kilometre after leaving Salavan, we said goodbye to asphalt and hello to dust, sand, stones and mud. Throughout the course of the 75km along Route 15, which links Salavan to Route 13 (the main north-south highway in Laos), the road condition varied from passable to rocky to downright bone shuddering, making this one of the hardest days of the trip thus far.

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Tad Lo to Salavan

DAY 91 – With only a short 30km ride north to the provincial capital planned, we took it easy and had a slow start and a relaxed breakfast, before leaving Tad Lo at 8am. The ride took us through small villages along a road of dubious quality. In no rush, we stopped frequently to take photos and had a few drink breaks along the way, arriving in Salavan around midday, where we checked into the Thipphaphone Guesthouse for 40,000 Kip (US$ 5.33).

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Sekong to Tad Lo

DAYS 89 & 90 – The days ride would be broken into two distinct parts, a long challenging uphill, followed by a long fast downhill, however the first challenge of the day involved finding breakfast. Luckily we found a lady selling bread at the edge of the morning market, so took the opportunity to stock up while we could and bought a dozen rolls and a can of sweetened condensed milk, of which we devoured half before leaving Sekong.

The deserted main highway ran east through a number of small villages, consisting of mostly rickety wooden houses with on stilts the odd concrete structure mixed in. To begin with the road stayed flat and we made good time, however after 20km the incline began and we climbed up and up onto the northern edge of the Bolaven Plateau, riding on an uphill slope of varying steepness for the best part of 30km.

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Attapeu to Sekong

DAY 88 – A typical early start on our first day in Laos, we found the local market and bought a bakers dozen bread rolls and a bunch of bananas for breakfast, keeping some in reserve just in case we couldn’t find anywhere for lunch (as we thought that food may be a little hard to find in rural areas) and cycled north out of town, directly towards the towering sheer cliff faces, at the top of which, some 1000m above, lay the Bolaven Plateau, Laos main coffee growing region.

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Kon Tum to Attapeu (Laos)

DAY 87 – Having decided to skip the final 300km in Vietnam and make a dash for the border, we had bought tickets the previous day, but with the bus not scheduled to pick us up until 9:30, we had a leisurely breakfast and waited in the coffee shop outside the tour office. The girl who sold us the tickets had managed to explain that the bus would not be able to stop outside the office as the police would fine the bus driver if it stopped there, so we knew that we would have to cycle to some unknown point in order to catch the bus.

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