Laos part I: the flat country

A sensational entry!

The happiness of border Arhh! Our first contact with Laos was a thousand leagues of what we lived then. Fortunately!


22 January: after the traditional filling of information at the border, we go to the first window to pay the $ 30 visa each. The customs officer claims US $ 31, $ 1 "to the service", it means going directly into his pocket. Nietnot bribe for us. One patient, it passes a bus of tourists and back; No, it is in no hurry, you can sleep here if necessary, tent. The technique of the Customs is to refuse to close the glass of the window, well annoying... An hour after our arrival, it manages to have our visa... but we must go to the desk next to the buffer. The following Customs asks $ 2 per person. No question of transfer. We ended up installing the bench before the wicket, history of be well installed to wait What irritates well this customs who twice made mine hit Thomas telling us "Go back Cambodia! Go back Cambodia! "."

To unblock the situation, trying to call the Embassy of France in Vientiane (or rather bluffing a call because the network is inadequate, and the Lady of the Embassy does not half of what they say). PAF, paf, buffered! Our rest is not being asked, and we mount our bikes (but not without checking that everything was filled properly). In total it will have spent at least 2 hours at the border! Nerves were strained, it défoule pressing everything we can on the pedals.

Only memories then.

We arrive in the corner of the 4000 islands, is the island of Don Khong we was said to be the most beautiful. In the end we rate the waterfalls of the Islands more South. It lacked a little info on the shot, but okay, okay. You arrive on the island by a bridge put in service last October: everything beautiful brand new! After a stint beside dot green paddy fields under the light of the evening, one reaches the village of Muang Kong. In the guesthouse found there... hot water! It's been at least a month that we take cold showers; It can be a details for you, but for us it means much: ultimate luxury!

We pass a rest day in this village where most of the tourists are french. Discussed with a lot of world, we rest... and Thomas "enjoy" this day to a small Flash of 24 tourista. The first time since our arrival in Asia.

We take the road the next day with the excitement of discovering a new country: a few premises we met up there we looked adorable, we look forward to see if it is a generality of the country.
Out of Don Khong Google Maps was not a lot of possible road... According to information from local, we know we can get back on the North of the island and find a "boat" to spend on the West Bank of the Mekong River; and avoid the road 13, recognized by all riders as being very annoying. Us off a little blind (after a small glance at Google Earth anyway!). The roads are in good condition and we quickly find our way for Don San, and a few tracks to access the vessel in question. Our things to do - activities on the Mekong, in mode "Laotian catamaran" was worth the detour! Once back on land, we head due north, to the closest to the river. A track, sometimes smooth, but more often well fucked, takes us through a succession of small villages. We feel the real local life that is active, working in fields, livestock, production of coal... The villages are colorful, sometimes a little decorated houses. People are just smiles and "sabaidee")Hello in Lao), both adults and children; It hurts the arm and dry mouth by dint of cuckoos and meet the "sabaidee". You immediately feel good, it is a pleasure to ride here despite the road sometimes in very poor condition.

The evening, in a village, asked to put the tent somewhere, and a young girl shows us her house. After confirmation of the consent of the parents, mounting the tent into the garage. To communicate a bit, open google translate on the phone; a tip: don't even try, the translation is simply incomprehensible in one sense as in another. Tested and deprecated! It goes back to the old good tools: the girl released her English book where there are ready-made phrases. We learn that she was 15, while it in fact at least 20 (as much physically as its catch of initiatives)! This is a trick that will check often: people often make good 5 years older than their age in Laos; Yes, that's for sure, they do not have the same conditions of life that we. We spend a good evening with them (parents and 3 children), share a meal prepared by MOM. With the English book, we exchange a little.

We left the next morning through the villages of the edge of river. This road is part of the best memories from Laos at level exchange with local. But rest assured, we have lived many other beautiful things then!

A little tired of this track, we recover a road. It was renovated two years ago and she is already full of holes. We meet an American married to a Laotian: it talks about the corruption of the country, the lack of resources actually allocated to road infrastructure in this Marxist regime... Leaders use and the rest is used to construct the roads...

In short, after this moment of Exchange on part visit Wat Phu, a temple that is part of the series of the temples of Angkor, and which has as a characteristic to be on a mountainside. While Thomas keeps (and clean!) bikes, I'm off to visit this temple and fact meets Marion and Williamfrench backpackers around the world. We spend a long time to Exchange, too nice! After so much talking, more time to do the 40 kms separating us from the great city of Packse: 10kms up Champassak will be enough for tonight. And it falls quite well since we find a super cool guesthouse full of backpacker, but also Jeannine and Danieltwo riders retired for three months in Asia. As we have a little the same itinerary for the next few days, we decided to roll together, after a very good evening and a few Beer Lao, delicious beer in the country.

The Boloven plateau

We are happy to ride to four. It is great to pedal about tweeting, and it moves faster the climb towards the Boloven plateau. Because during the day, it still swallowed 1000 m of ascent! But the rise is very pretty, coffee trees appear gradually, harvested coffee dry ground in courses on large blue tarps. Seen closely the life that is active around this crop of coffee.

In the evening, there is a temple to ask the tent. No Exchange with the monks: monks here have air more enclosed than in Cambodia (however they have a whole Lil cute troooop puppy it would well have won with us...). With the night coming, it is also the freshness that falls: we are aloft, and for the first time since we are in Asia, we feel the sensation of cold. One emerges the polar and duvets (well ok, it's 10 °, but it no longer has the habit we!).
Tuesday, January 19, after still 300 m in altitude, we are on the shelf. In a stony road to the midi blows, a large metallic noise on the rear wheel of the bike by Thomas. Verdict: the derailleur is caught in the spokes, it all twisted. We stop under the Sun that tape, not an area of shade in sight, to make a temporary repair. Quickly a group of a dozen of children around us.
Thomas leaves with 5 functional speed on 8...
The clock is ticking, everyone starts to feel hungry, and we can not find the waterfalls mentioned to us. It is now on tracks that rise and descended, the nerves themselves tend a little. We are ready to leave the stove to cook our pasta of relief when it crosses a couple on a scooter: the waterfalls are more far away, there is a guest house to eat and spend the night!
One arrives at 14: 00 in this little corner of paradise in the middle of nowhere. It was decided all 4 to stay there for two nights history to enjoy the place. It fits into bamboo bungalows, we'll bathe and do laundry in the River below. We pass the evening with a group of young french that circle of the scooter, chatting and playing the belote plateau.
In the morning we walk a little to see the waterfalls. The largest is really beautiful, and it is only on the place. With the Sun in the back, a beautiful Rainbow emerges before the waterfall, grass and small purple flowers. It is gorgeous! It is hard to leave this enchanting place.
We go down a little further and found a river where one can bathe and discuss on the banks in stone.

First big break

Thursday, January 21, after having found a real road, a very nice and long descent is waiting for us. Then the road is flattened... and does that fit all the afternoon!
At kilometre 96, Thomas to stop net: the derailleur is broken for good, it no longer holds that sudpendu by its cable... it is 5:30 pm.
Thomas decides to reduce the chain and use only a speed while Daniel and Jeannine set out to find a guesthouse as night falls. We advance slowly because the chain jumps off and pedaling becomes a nightmare in the climbs. But no later than 6 kms, a hot shower awaits us in Thateng! Hungry and tired, but content that has been reached: total for this day, 102kms, 1000 m vertical drop... and a derailleur less.
In the morning, they say goodbye to our friends and start looking for a derailleur in the large market of the city. It finds one for € 2! Coins in plastic of course, but it will do the trick to go to Vientiane.
The day is pretty easy, many descents. At the end of day, skips in beautiful scenery of rice paddies, with still lots of smiles of people, often impressed with our boat.
After 90kms, there is a temple in a village, which has the originality of that host a single monk.

Reunion

Saturday 23 January: there go tonight with the dudus, our Turkey cyclos friends: he descended to the South and we go up North, our paths cross. Known to be least 100kms, but it is motivated, we look forward to see again them! We leave our beautiful green paddy fields to find the road 13, not very interesting; This allows us to forge ahead. There is little traffic, and the wind is side then back. At 4.30 p.m. to Paksong, 121kms has swallowed!

Shortly after arriving the Dudus - and also by chance the boy. We are too happy to find themselves, to tell our adventures since you passed away. It does not stop talking, it folds to 1 h of the mast '.
7: 00 clock, it stings a little. What is cool with riders who travel with children, it is that they always have a jar of Nutella with them! A good breakfast to wake up. It's hard to leave already, and be given the first shots of pedals 10 h, each starting in his sense.

En route to the capital

We take our road 13 and his wind back or sideways. At a crossing, on a whim, it was decided to turn to Savannakhet where you can take a bus to Vientiane and win a few days. This is what is brilliant with the bike trip: can change their minds at the last moment, change his plans when you want.
Savannaketh is a town with a very colonial architecture, it is nice. The streets are wide, clean and pleasant.
Our night at 9 pm bus, there a short time is occupied with Benjamin, a french, and the boy (them again!) and an American cyclo around a Thai barbecue.
The night in the bus is short because it's 4:30 in the morning we arrive in Vientiane! It remains in the station until the first light of the day and cycle the 15 kms separating us from the city centre.

Vientiane

The tourist centre, located on the shores of the Mekong River, a short walk from the Thai border, is quite pretty. Many houses "colonial" type, we can feel the ancient French presence. And for a capital city, the city is extraordinarily quiet. Few things to visit, but many European restaurants: we enjoy an ice one night, and another evening wood-fired pizza. It's crazy like deprivation makes us appreciate the small things! MMH this pizza! We still dream of this fabulous taste! (Yes it starts to be a bit lacking in some french/European dishes...) Not do we not speak of cheese or wine!)
It was cool to wander in the town market. Once more, there is everything that is needed in seeking a little. And aisles mini are not at all be invaded as was the case in Phnom Penh for example.
At Vientiane, also could make the nine on our bikes. We had a bit of trouble, but found the store kept by a french. It have refurbished us our babies and gave us lots of tips to take care. Thank you Willy!

Note for the riders that would seek it : the store, Top Cycle area, is in the Dong hoist Street before the D-Mart supermarket. GPS coordinates: 17,96294021 ° N; 102,62119889 ° E.

Short, after this rest and these repairs, we took the road to the North and mountains. Still beautiful pictures and beautiful encounters. Follow!