The plan was to ride from Luang Pra Bang to the Thai border crossing in Nong Khai. It would have been four hundred kilometres through one of the most mountainous regions in Laos. We were going to stretch it out over seven or eight days and try to enjoy it as much as we could. Due to an urge to get to the beach and limited time James was going to take the bus to the border. Morgan and I were then going to meet him in Bangkok before he flew back to Taiwan. While discussing our plan James suggested that we all take the bus to Vang Vien which is half way to Vientiane. Then he would spend a couple of days there with us and when we started riding for the border he would take the bus onward. When we got to the bus station the next morning the price for a ticket to Vang Vien was the same as the price to Vientiane. James did not want to have to pay for two bus tickets so he purchased a ticket to Vientiane. It did not take long before we talked ourselves out of riding to the border and into sitting on a beach in the south of Thailand.
We boarded the bus at 2pm and did not arrive in Vientiane until two or three the next morning. The border is 25 or 30 kilometres outside of Vientiane and does not open until 6am. We rode around Vientiane looking for something to eat and then decided that we would just start out for the border. Arriving an hour before the border opened we tried to fall asleep on the side of the road.
We crossed the border and booked a ticket on the night train to Bangkok. We biked into town and booked a hotel for the day to try to get some sleep. The train we booked did not have any sleeper cars so we were stuck trying to sleep in what turned out to be the most uncomfortable train seats. Not as bad the the third class wood benches, but pretty horrible. And in third class there is always the option of sleeping on the floor.
James and I had to apply for Taiwanese visas so when we arrived in Bangkok we got a hotel room, showered and headed for the Taiwanese Visa Office. What is usually a painful experience turned out to be pretty easy and we were back at the hotel asleep in no time.
After another night on a train (sleeping car) and a boat ride we arrived on Koh Phagan. For the time being we will be trading the lycra bike shorts and helmets in for swim trunks and snorkels. I forgot my speedo so there will be no speedo shots this trip. We all have to leave Thailand before the 14th of February. James is going home, Morgan and I are not sure what we will do.
We will be using the bikes on the island for transportation. But it looks like the bike adventure maybe over. If we find anything worth riding I will get some pictures and post something.
I would like to thank:
Jay for the Viento frames. Some may argue that they are not touring bikes, but I think they worked out pretty amazingly. The roads in Laos are not in the best shape and I could not imagine riding on them on anything other than a mountain bike. Sure if I could do it again there would be things I would change on my bike … but I would still want to be on a Viento.
Fritz from Kail Protectives for keeping my head safe. I did not think a dirt jump helmet was going to be the best choice for a touring helmet but, I was surprised at how comfortable and cool it really was.
It has been a great adventure,