A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

2560 km: Mountains

-17 °C

Leaving Luang Prabang we knew there would be a couple of Mountains, well we GOT mountains.

The Roads: Winding 15 km up, 15 km down

wietske_downhill.jpg

The View : Amazing

wietske_in..tains_2.jpg

Landscape : Straight out of Lord of the Rings

wietske_in_mountains.jpg
bunno_on_b..g_vieng.jpg

The Body : Wrecked

wietske_uphill.jpg

Posted by HoYing 04:19 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

2626km: Vang Vieng

The happy life

We have arrived in the happiest place in Laos. It is called vang vieng and is full of party people boozing and smoking their heads of while watching endless reruns of "Friends" on giant TV's. I am not making this up. There is a reason for everyone to be here though as the place is gorgeous with a beautiful river and spectaculair mountains and caves.

Apparently every food item you order here is available in a normal and a happy version.
The happy version simply contains a few more exotic herbs. We love the business model and are seriously thinking about opening our own Happy restaurant in Amsterdam. It will be all old dutch produce, obviously the herbs will be homegrown nederwiet and the dishes will also be traditionally dutch: ranging from fries with happy mayonaise to happyballs (bitterballs) to happy pancakes to happy boerenkool. This can only be a succes. We are currently looking for volunteers to join a focus group and test our "Happy Meals" once we back in the country. Sign up per mail please.

Apart from "tubing" down the river (you gotta love this "sport": float in an innertube down a river and get fished in by bar owners along the route. Drink more than you can under the burning sum and float along) tubing_tuktuk.jpg
there is a lot more to do here. Tubing is a bit too sporty for us and a rest day should be a rest day so we joined some French people for a scooter ride to some caves and some swimming. Very nice to zoom uphill without any effort; we have already offered our bikes in exchange for this lovely scooter but I am afrad our offer will not be taken up....
motorbike_vang_vieng.jpgmonks_at_blue_lagoon.jpgclimb_to_phukham_cave.jpgbunno_on_terrace.jpg

One thing in the series on Lao-English we would hate to keep from you: Seen on the menu in one of the local restaurants here: Spagetti Boldness.
We guess it does not contain hair but have not dared to order it yet....

Posted by Whiskey 04:27 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

2800 km: Vientianne - traffic lights

9 °C
View By bike to Singapore on HoYing's travel map.

For over 300 km the road signs along the road refused to spell the name of the city but kept referring to XXX km to the Capital City.... That made me quite curious.

Well, yes after 1000 km on the roads here we finally hit traffic lights....unfortunately the first set were out of business so we had to drive a bit further to find some, but there we were lucky and found a set that even turned red for a side street that was empty!

So here we are in the epicentre of Laos, Vientianne. It is nice and relaxing and has great views over the Mekong river to Thailand on the other side, plenty of Beer-gardens and french style restaurants and bars. It feels like any other provincial town in Europe or a small village in China

Highlight is the Pha That Luang a stupa / momument built in 1566. Suposebly a Dutch guy was around here to pay tribute to the important Laos kingdom in 1600 and was quite impressed, well, I was too!

CIMG1647.jpg

The ride to here was a bit mediocre, but hey, you can't have the best every day....

And we were invited to celebrate yet another local festival. We have been in Laos now for about three weeks and this is the 4th festival! First we had Army Day, then a corronation of the Monks, during a trek the guide told us that normally the women would be weaving traditional clothing, but today "is not a good day to do business...."

The harvest festival is to celebrate the arrival of a new generation of rice (and with 3 crops a year you can see some more parties comming). It is celebrated with:... your friends some food, some music, lot's of Beer Lao, and an occasional Lao Lao (local rice Whiskey). I like the parties Laos style!
We were invited to a house on the second floor of a wooden building where we found 20 people lookijng at us quite surprised. We had some small talk in Enlgish and downed a glass of Beer Lao with everybody. Then we started to "bargain" our way out, and got off with about 1 hour, instead of staying the night...
Great People, Great Food, and as usual Great Beer Lao!

We stopped over night next to some Buddha statues that were carved out of stone in the forest, supposably over a 1000 years ago. We found them at the end of a neglected dirt road about 2 km of the main road (linking the whole country from north to south). The only thing we could find in the neigborhood was a guy fishing....the Livingstone in me awoke right there!

CIMG1646.jpg

Now we are off to the mountains again, it's interesting how that works, in the mountains you curse them every corner, think about what weight you can ditch, and how long it will take till it is over.....till it is.
Then you long back for more. So we had 1 flat session that wasn't to impressive and, being a bit in a hurr, we have decided to cheat a bit, and we will take the bus tomorrow to a national Park (Phu Hin Bun) in Central Laos, in the mountains.

This will mean we will be "out of civalisation" for about a week again.

Posted by HoYing 04:06 Archived in Laos Comments (2)

3250km; Sepone

Off the (beaten) track.......

We were wondering why nobody could tell much about our planned road number 1F. It seemed big enough on our map and even had the convenient red color of a national highway/ major road so no problem we thought...........yet everyone we asked did not know anything about it. Now we know why. It doesn't exist, or at least large parts of it are missing..........

We started easy enough from Lak Sao to Mahaxai. This part is described in the lonely planet as a motorbike tour so no problems finding the road here. The road was slightly less smooth in places but very good at some point where a massive dam is under construction. Impressive engineering project, less impressive from ecological point of view we're afraid......
all in all a smooth ride and after 128 kilometers, top to toe covered in fine red dust we arrived at the one and only hotel in the village of Mahaxai. Or actually....we arrived at what used to be the only hotel but is now closed. Slight panic as Mahaxai is miles from everywhere and dusk was falling.....and it is cold, very cold here at night. Our problems were fixed before we knew it though as we met Saigham and Saigham was nice enough to offer us the spare bedroom in his parents house. We hope it really was the spare bedroom but we may have kicked some people out of their nice and warm bed..... this is the man who saved us from sleeping under the stars:
mahaxai_saigham.jpg

The next day we went into unknown territory. The road which was promised to be paved was not but that is not a problem. "We have mountainbikes they should be able to handle this" we thought.....
to_nasalo_1.jpg
Then we arrived at Naphao where we planned to have lunch. What we expected to be a larger village with a market turned out to be 3 houses in a field. In a field yes, because there was no road to be seen. We asked for the way to the next village. The villagers pointed convincingly into the bush. We asked again. They pointed again. So in we went......
This was definitely the most interesting part of national highway we have ridden so far!
to_nasalo_2.jpg
to_nasalo_3.jpgto_nasalo_4.jpg

the next 15km took us 2.5 hours or so and quite late we arrvied to Nasalo village where we planned to spend the night.
nasalo_village.jpg
We fell with our nose in the butter as they say in Dutch because a massive festifal was under way. Big music installation, dancing, towers of beer lao crates, food stalls and tons of people.........this promised to be good! Minor issue was the fact that there turned out to be no guesthouse in this village but we got ourselves invited to sleep on the veranda of the village chiefs house so problem fixed!
We through ourselves into the festivities of the yearly cultural festival and proved to be populair dancing partners. Lao style dancing that is. There are two rows, one men, one women, facing each other about 1 meter apart. You only dance with your hands by making delicate hand movements while side shuffling around the field. Point is that the dutch are not really built for delicate gestures........... we made complete fools of ourselves and entertained the whole crowd while at it. They could not get enough of it and we got invited to dance over and over again. When we finally escaped to our house we found matresses and blankets all laid out for us, the unexpected and uninvited guests. Lao people are really the sweetest people in the world.

We woke up early and had to vacate the veranda as a Baci ceremony was about to take place. We were invited to join this ceremony for luck. First music is being played then the priest blessed a tower of flowers and white ribbons. These ribbons are then distributed and everyone ties them around the wrist of other people while singing a blessing. We received a lot of them. Then food is shared between all guests. Very impressive to be part of this all.
baci_flowers.jpg
baci_food.jpg

Slightly hung over but very happy we cycled the beautiful 85km's to Sepone.

Posted by Whiskey 02:01 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

2950 km: Na Hin Boun NP... More Karst Mountains


View By bike to Singapore on HoYing's travel map.

So, yeas we cheated. We woke up early to cycle to the bus terminal of Vientianne. Why they placed thsi a convenient 10 km out of this sleepy town is a mystery to me. We arrived at 5.54 am, and were pointed towards a bus. A couple of fingers pointed in different directions which we took for, "get the luggage off, and get in". So we did.
Wietske entered the bus with the luggage and I saw 2 boys running away with our bikes...... So, girl and all the luggage on the bus, 2 bikes in another direction.... I choose the bus thinking that there is some logic to everything in Laos.

Turned out that the bus had to leave at 6 am sharp and thus left the platform at 6.00, drove around the corner and there we met with the 2 boys and the bikes, and took an easy 30 min to oad them and 300 kg of Cucumbers, and 50 k of Peppers on to the bus.

bike_on_bus.jpg

The ride was fun, though the road indeed a bit flat and boring.

We jumped of in Na Hin Boun National Park, a beautifull park filled with Karst Mountains (once again).

bunno_on_w.._Na_Hin.jpg

We stayed in a "resort" on a nice river. Funny guys wanted us to order our dinner 2 hours in advance...?? Better still after dinner it was tie to order the breakfast, including how many cups of tea or coffee, for the next day. There is somer strange logic to some of these places.

sala_viewpoint.jpg

Highlight of the Park is the Kong Lor Cave, where a river flows through for about 7 km. We cycled the last bit from the resort to the Cave and saw the Boat Committee, 10 people around a camp fire arranging the all tourist transactions (app. 5 a day). We handed them a note, and paid some fees and that was it,so laid back, it felt they invited as to see some beauties in their back yard.

Anyway off we went with a guy on flip flops over the cave to the other side. The fellow was nice and like me has a difficulty shutting up.
He kept going in Laos about everything for the complete 4 hours, very enthjousiastic! The climb was through some amazing Limestone and pieces of Limestone forest

konglor_hike.jpg

At the other side we met up with a boat men and his long tail boat and he took us the 7 km through the cave over the rivewr to the other side. Rather spooky, more amazing and slightly rocky at some places. WOW

konglor_cave_entrance.jpg

konglor_hike_2.jpg

Posted by HoYing 02:31 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

(Entries 21 - 25 of 51) « Page 1 2 3 4 [5] 6 7 8 9 10 .. »