Updated: Nov 12, 2018
What a difference a day makes! Riding the same mountain road this morning was a joy. Of course we were fresh, but there was hardly any traffic & that made it so much less stressful & more pleasurable. Yesterday was obviously ‘all cars and trucks and buses must drive up country day’. As you may have guessed we decided not to venture any further into the hills or attempt a border crossing back into Thailand further north in the mountains. Admittedly, when we discovered how clear the roads were, we were tempted to turn around, but we continued back to Vientiane,
Staying a night at the Sanctuary Nam Ngam Beach Resort was a pleasure, despite the fact that I ended up with a dicky tummy last night. I was expecting it at some point & it’s almost impossible to pinpoint why, but it was manageable with a few pills! We haven’t been too careful with the old ‘no ice’, ‘no water’ philosophy so that was probably it. It was a calm & peaceful place to stay, that is if you tuned out the buzzing of the fishing boat motors, which Simon equated with those annoying neighbours who insisted on mowing their lawns first thing Sunday morning... Personally, I tuned them out very quickly.
Halfway between Vientiane & the Nam Ngam reservoir, on the Nam Ngam river is a delightful place, called Loa Derm Som Ngum, where a large collection of floating restaurants dock. There are fixed floating platforms which house bars & some restaurants & the floating restaurants dock to them, collect their passengers & presumably the food & drink, then set off up and down river. Obviously the atmosphere is dictated by the diners. We saw young party people, singing & dancing to loud music and demure diners quietly enjoying the experience.
There are large ones, powered by two of the ubiquitous long prop outboards & smaller ones using just one. It was interesting watching them cope with the strong current. Like the food courses, there are several speeds, upstream (slow and sedate) and downstream (almost out of control), then there is the sideways crab motion - not advised for dessert! :) A fabulous idea that could never be implemented in Auckland, for example, because there would be a mind-blowing quantity of health & safety issues. Somehow I like that. Trying to copy ideas from one country to another rarely works in the way you expect. That, however did not stop me speculating about building an electric, solar powered tuktuk model to take on Uber in Auckland!
It only took us about 3 hours to reach the ‘Freedom Bridge’, the Thai / Laos border & only about 30 minutes to get through. A record! That gave us enough time to push on towards Chiang Mai, our next destination where we intend to spend our last few days. Hopefully the hills & roads will offer some interesting riding. We got as far as a provincial town called Loei, where we found a grand looking but quite shabby inside hotel for NZ$23 per head including breakfast. It is obviously cheap because when we asked for a bucket of ice to cool down the bottles we had with us, they charged us $2 for the privilege. Never been charged for ice in a hotel before - a first!
So tomorrow a long ride to Chiang Mai - over 7 hours according to Google. Will keep you posted!
You’ll find all the images from my Rovings here:
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