Dusty Laos

We entered Laos in a very very dusty adventure. Early in the morning, we left Dien Bien Phu (Vietnam) biking on nicely broken but mainly flat pavement. Coming closer to the border with Laos, the road started to ascend seriously. And we mean ‘seriously’ here ! No problem at this time of the day, as we still had the whole day ahead of us. On top of the mountain, there’s a 3 km no-man’s land and on both sides you find a border office. On the Vietnamese side, we found one with very important people in very important uniforms. We got the necessary stamps and an unreadable paper. We crossed hot no-man’s land to the Lao side, and together with the pavement also the uniforms disappeared. We had to pay for the security stamps also widely known as the corruption stamps. Anyway, the main point at that moment was that we had crossed the borders. The second point was the road. It was all hard packed gravel with a tiny layer of superfine dust. Great ! Everything dirty: bikes, bags and bodies (three out of the four important bike B’s), but most importantly also the inside of our lungs. We headed down for quite a while thinking that soon we’ll reach the decent town of Muang Khua. No way ! At the backside of the afternoon (not knowing that Soraya’s lungs already were having a hard time), a huge climb was awaiting us. Thank Buddha, we found a stretch of pavement on the descent side, of course leading to the town with that sensual name. No way ! Pavement ended, the dust was back again and above all, the night was showing up. We reached the Nam Ou River and also a tributary we had to cross, but no bridges here. One of us got wet feet, the other one wet eyes (guess who ?). The fun was gone. We felt so lost. We continued in darkness, our little bike candles being the only ones in the early night. And then we saw it far away: one small light, a second one and wow, twelve in total, we found Muang Khua, but shit, there was the river in between the town and us. We discovered a seem to be floating boat, just wide enough to carry the bikes, and we made it to the other side ! Completely empty, completely dead, and so happy we didn’t had to sleep in the jungle…(which would make this an ever longer paragraph).

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Even a mixed Algerian-French stomach can’t resist the Lao food. A nasty little population of bacteria arrived in the gastroenteric system of Soraya, making her feel a bit surprised and weak. Rinsing your intestine is a popular free time activity in the Western detox world, but when it comes unexpectedly, it comes not planned at all. Not handy ! The density of guesthouses made that we had to cycle two very long days to reach Luang Prabang (what a cool name !). And (again) we, but especially Soraya, felt totally exhausted. Time for some relaxing and recovering days. We stayed two days in Luang Prabang, doing what the monks are doing: walking slowly in circles, drinking a bit, and finding a bite. Great ! Totally reloaded, we decided to take the boat to the Thai border. It would take two days ! No biking ! It felt good and not only for our butts !!

Have a very good last month of the year with great surprises, S&M

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