Sleeping bus is ready to board, how sweet is that they have a bed and doona, yes! I started to warm quickly with the doona and 40 other people in the bus. I wanted to ride from the Boten crossing point in Laos, but the bus drivers said not to, the Laos border control also said no. I decided to take the bus to the next stop to see the local conditions and see what I’ll do. Wow, what a road. It had been freshly graded with soft edges, so, as a bus and a truck or construction vehicle passed each other the mirrors would touch sometimes. Sometimes when the vehicles had to pass on corners, not all the wheels would be touching to road… scary.
We arrived late at night and I grabbed a room. In the morning I built up my bike and went to have a beautiful coffee before beginning the temple tour. Luang Prabang is the cultural centre of Laos and is worth seeing as it is real Laos — slow, friendly, and relaxing. Along the way I booked my cooking course as my plan is no souvenirs but skills are easy to carry. By chance or fate I booked my cooking course at the best restaurant in town, Tamnak. The owner was Ruth Borthwick, an Aussie ex pat who held many government positions in Australia and abroad. She had worked in worn torn Nigeria. Ruth has had a horrific life but has survived. I entered at 10:00 am, and we we spoke till 3.30 pm, what an amazing woman. The conversation went from cooking to life, love, work, family, politics, Asia and businesses. Insightfully blunt, I left with a life lesson before my cooking class.
The road from Luang Prabang to Veng Vieng was better. It’s hill after hill it was very senic, however there are no guest houses. Veng Vieng is a party town, so I rode across the river for a quiet guest house. I found Sivilyn guest house to be bike friendly which is something I find harder and harder to locate as I go. There is a little restaurant called Inten. It’s 2/3 of the price of the town food – winning! There is relaxing, partying, tubing, caving and hot air ballooning, thats me. It is fantastic up there, wow.
Next morning I had a big breakfast, and was a bit hung over, but I continued on and rode to Phong Hong. Along the way I met a husband and wife cycle touring going the other direction. They are reversing my trip which was an awesome chance to get up to date info on what was to come. They explained road closures and things that looked and sounded good in the brochure but don’t exist. Time to listen. Then they asked me “why is a young man like you doing a trip like this?” I’m too honest for my own good. My riding was to burn off the demons, now they are fresh in my head. At least time passes quick that way. At Phong Hong I get the local BBQ, all meals seem to be mostly the same, but different in some way. The food was beautiful and the dipping sauce… ooooh yeah. Off to get provisions and soy milk to drink at bed time as it breaks down slow and repairs body in your sleep. I watch a bike courier movie that my mate B-Rad would love.
The next day to Vientine had hot strong headwinds which had only one redeeming quality – they kept the storm clouds just behind me. The capital of Laos is pretty in the town and around the river, the rest not so much. I’ve been operating without GPS or maps, which is an adventure but would like the comforting knowledge of a working GPS. I ask around but can’t get my GPS fixed here, everyone pointed me to Udon Thani in Thailand for repair. I went into the Australian Embassy, they supported the info I had and agreed that I would be stuck with only night riding and big delays if I try to go any further south due to road building. It is across the boarder and I can just ride into Cambodia to Siem Reap, lets go.