After the last night spent near the dam, we just had to head to the border to reach Laos! For the first time of the trip, it was necessary to put our bikes in a bus to cross the No Mans Land. It is a shame for two bike travelers like us!! But let’s go anyway… The first kilometers to Lao immediately remind us, that we are new in a much less westernized country (and also poorer unfortunately) than Thailand. On the other hand, the Lao seem to know how to bake some French baguette, at least we have this! The goal of the day is to take a boat (this is allowed) to go down the Mékong River! The 7 hours of slow boat are very quiet maybe because we have a huge lack of sleep from the last days. The river is quite narrow and has many meanders, fast and canyons, very pretty. It is a popular option for backpackers because they constitute half the boat, and there is a Moroccan colleague who travels by bike 🙂 We stop at the evening in a village named Pakbeng, for us will be a definitive stop, the other tourists continue by boat the next day Luang Pragang.
So we decided to join Luang Prabang by the mountain to enjoy the Laotian campaign, very good idea! The detour still has a couple 285km and it promises good climbs. The first relatively short step (for lack of motivation) brings us behind the first massif, and we again spend an evening drinking beers with the locals. A nice group of buddies that makes us drink cold bottoms up glasses of beer, we fit well in this country!
May 8, 100 kilometers of mountain! In the middle of the journey we will make a crucial choice between 120 km from Pure mountain or 190 km of detour to make a little less. Go for Option 2! After a long stiff climb and some trucks to hang on, we are on a beautiful peak with charming villages and smiling lao that offer us Leetchi, salvation. It is probably one of the most beautiful roads of the trip until now! The descent at the end of the afternoon is breathtaking and it takes us to a canyon that we follow up to a village. This time it is with no hesitation that we keep asking people if you can sleep at home or beside their homes. It works better than expected since a villagers opens his barn, then prepares fires to cook and brings us a sound system just in case we wanted to party, but the energy has left us. It will be cuisine then a good sleep. As we can not communicate, we offer our chocolates to the kids and let a nice primary school like drawing on the table in the morning 🙂
The next day, there is still 135 km, so we leave very early. It’s a slow start in the climbs on the bike … It’s harder than expected so we already know it will take another day, no big deal 🙂 at noon a Lao barbecue intercepts us in a move restaurant, and in the evening we leave for some 30 km, still climbs and a new type of landscape made of beautiful limestones massifs. Steph is in charge of searching a camp in a village and he finds a small country hospital, the teacher of the villages school speaks English and gently invites us to sleep in the meeting room at the edge of the river, sweet. In the evening it’s finally time to watch a little episode of Game of Thrones (downloaded at the last hotel) on the iPad!
On May 10, we are ready for Luang Prabang. Small waterfall morning (in private please) for Leo who left before, we find ourselves on the road at the last pass. Here we are in a very nice hostel (card games, pool table …) where we friends from the boat. We will be able to rest a few days, enjoy, and repair the stove and the water filter that both already have a defect!