Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Bike Packing Asia: Laos

The second country I visited on my South East Asian adventure was Laos.

I crossed into Laos on the most northern boarder crossing. The checkpoint was high up on a ridge and it took a fair while to fill in all the forms and pay all the USD 'Tourist Fees'.

I dropped down the from the boarder check point and the landscape instantly changed. Tropical jungle covered the mountains and most of the villages were little more than clusters of wooded huts. Laos is the poorest country I have ever visited and one of the friendliest places I have visited. There seems to be a direct correlation between the wealth of a country and kindness to strangers of the locals, the poorer the people the kinder and more welcoming they seem to be. My favorite time of day in Laos was around 3:30 in the afternoon when all the school kids were cycling and walking home. The would all stick their hands out for a high five and every single one would shout 'SABADEE', hello.

I'm a sucker for a good sunset, sometimes when you ride long enough you just happen to end up in the right place at the right time for a moment of magic.

The roads in Laos were very inconsistent. Some were silky smooth, some were gravel and others were little more than thick dust. Guest houses in Asia tend to have wet rooms which are extremely useful for bike cleaning!

Laung Prabang was the first major town on the backpacking route that I stayed in. After 10 days on the road it was nice to meet other travelers and do a few touristy activities. One evening we climbed to the top of the hill in the center of town to sip a beer and watch the sun set. Everyone else in town also had the same idea so i had to que for this photo... not really my thing!

The night market in Laung Prabang was really cool though and there served some fantastic food, perfect after 10 days on the road.

Next stop on my trip was Vang Vien. I cycled up and over a massive dormant volcano which was spectacular and steep. I hung onto the back of trucks to get a cheeky tow up the mountains.

I also met a Japanese cyclist and rode with him for a while. He dropped me eventually but we met for a few beers in Vang Vien that evening.

Vang Vien is a tourist town. Its know as the adventure capital of Laos and offers an array of activities such a tubing and rock climbing. It rained the whole time so I spent my time in the bars and partying!

My final stop in Laos was the capital city, Vientienne. I spent the afternoon looking around the tourists attractions. This arch was built to mimic the Arc de Triumph in Paris. Vientienne sits on the Mekong river which acts as the boarder with Thailand which was next on my agenda.


Clayton Wangbichler said...

Funny girlfriend and I planned to fly to Sulawesi on Wednesday as a bikepacking trip. Now we’re thinking about changing our flights to something in the Northern Thailand, Laos, Vietnam region. We came across your trip. Looks amazing. Do you possibly have a GPX file of your route? We’ll have roughly 12 days, starting this Friday. Any suggestions would be welcome.


Clayton Wangbichler said...

I forgot to hit “notify”. Please respond to this comment instead.