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Sabaidee! – Vientiane to Thabok (95/10,032 ks)

(written by Nancy)

We were up early and had brekkie in the room – our fresh croissants were not as crispy this morning having sat overnight but they were still tasty and better than 7-11 banana cake any day. We left the hotel at 7:20 with no clouds in the sky and the temperature already getting warm.

This morning Dave really wanted to ride to Pha That Luang, reportedly the most important national monument in Laos. It was only marginally off route. It is both a Buddhist and Lao sovereignty symbol. It looks a bit like a cross between missile launcher and chedi. There are lots of ornate buildings on the site but we were too early to go inside any. It is probably worth a stop if you happen to be visiting Vientiane.

Getting back on route was a bit windy with some dirt. I may have questioned the route a wee bit here. By the time we reached highway 13 (our route the rest of the day) rush hour was in full swing. There was quite as bit of truck and scooter traffic for the first 10k. Most traffic coming at us drove on the right side of the road (ie the correct side, the left side), which was nice change from Thailand. Scooters however, entering our road and going in our direction from side streets were a big hazard as they don’t stop and rarely bother looking. This is a new Laos road behaviour for which we’ll have to be on high alert.

At about 20k our four lane road with shoulder turned into just two lanes and no shoulder. By now traffic levels were dropping with every k so a narrowing road was no issue really. The first 20k had more traffic but it also had large numbers of roadside baguette stands. I’m not sure how they keep the bread clean with all the dust. All the stand workers wore dust masks of some kind.

We stopped at a few servos for comfort breaks and can report that so far Laos servos seem to have passable toilets, but limited options for food and drink. There are no Amazon coffees, as we expected. Dave reports great disappointment as the Laos toilets lack the outside urinals he came to enjoy in Thailand.

Late morning we stopped for a drink and yoghurt at a roadside restaurant. While we were enjoying our break, two more touring cyclists from the UK pulled in. Andy and Damian started in Perth about the same time we started in Sydney. We’ve taken similar paths and now we meet on a highway in Laos, small world. They are headed north and are going to try to ride through China and the ‘Stans back to the UK.  You can follow their journey at www.bigbikeback.co.uk.  It is amazing how many cycle tourist we’ve met in last few days after seeing none for such a long time. Sorry but we forgot to photograph the guys.

Until meeting Andy and Damian, we had few roadside hellos and we were starting to think Laos was less friendly than Thailand. Well this soon changed as it was now the start of school lunch hour. We started seeing groups of kids and could hardly keep up with the hellos and sabaidees (hello in Lao).  And any kid near the side of the road ran out to high-five us – we had to be careful not to hit them too hard as we are going over 20 kph. This went on for the rest of the ride and Laos is now back on level terms with Thailand. Only trouble was that the kids were camera shy – every time Dave stopped for a photo they scattered or hid behind each other.

We had one more major wat stop at Wat Phabat Phonsose. They discovered a large Buddha foot print here in 1933 and built a big temple. Dave keeps stopping at these wats but I think the kids are more fun (ok, it was a nice wat as well).

We rolled into Thabok just after 1PM and easily found the T&M Guesthouse in this small town. T&M is not flash but it is only for one night – I expect this is indicative of what we will see all the way through Laos. We ate lunch across the street where there was a menu with Lao and English on it. Dave is now eating Laos Laab, or Laos salad. It is not really salad but more like stir-fried mince and herbs. The meat choice is pretty much whatever they have. Today was water buffalo. Last night it was chicken. He says it’s pretty good but I think I might stick with fried rice until we see if he shows any side affects. Not sure what we’ll do for dinner as options are limited here and who knows what the mystery meat will be later in the day. Tomorrow we head have 58 or 98k options. We’ll probably do the longer ride if we can get an early start. It is supposed to be flat but it is not clear if we have any options for brekkie. So far at least it looks like the baguette sales are more Vientiane based. I am not sure I am up for a meat salad for brekkie…

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2 responses to “Sabaidee! – Vientiane to Thabok (95/10,032 ks)

  1. hi guys, congratulations on 10,000 km on the saddle…… rock solid..!!

    • Thanks Ross. I think we’ve finally worked off that paella that you made for us back in April. I didn’t want to stop riding until we were sure!

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