Sunday, January 24, 2010

Into Laos: Night Mission

We left Chiang Rai Saturday morning with our bikes on top of a bus heading to the Thailand-Laos border.

We went through Thai border control and then had to load our bikes into a boat to cross the Mekong River.

On the other Laos side of the Mekong we went through passport control and started looking around the border town.

After riding around the town we started looking into prices for the bus and boat to Luang Nam Tha. The prices that we were quoted to us were drastically inflated so we decided to ride the nine kilometres to the bus station. It seems that every bus station in Laos is never very close to the city centre. I guess it benefits more people if the foreigners have to pay for a taxi to the bus station.

Starting out for the bus station we had to ride along the Mekong river. It was amazing the muddy brown waters and the bright blue sky was breathe taking.

After riding for a while we still had not found the local bus station. We stopped to buy some water and the lady running the shop informed us that we missed it a couple of kilometres back.

We decided that we would ride until dark and find a nice place to set up the tent. Every village that we passed the children would shout hello to us in English or Laos. The men and women would also say hello and ask us where we were going or where we are from. It made riding much easier to know that someone was waiting around every corner for us.

After the sun went down we were still riding. We wanted to find a place out of the mountains to avoid the cold weather.

As the night got darker the hills got steeper and steeper. We rode for hours listening to the sounds of our tires on the pavement and the sounds of animals in the bushes. We probably rode for thirty or forty kilometres in the dark.

We spent the night sleeping in the yard of a small village school at the base of what would turn out to be our most difficult climb to date.


We woke up in the cold before dawn, packed up our bikes and started riding in the dark. The mountain of death started shortly after we started riding.


For hours and hours we rode up hill turned a corner and rode up another hill. It was like this hour after hour. I tried to think of other things but all I could think of was the pain in my legs, the hungry in my belly and my dry mouth.


As the sun came up the small villages came alive and the locals started to greet us as we rode through. With all of the activity I was able to ignore the pain in my legs and enjoy the village life and the beautiful mountains of Laos.


We had not had very much to eat that morning and we were running out of water and village after village we could not find anything to eat or drink.

We finally found a village that had a small store where we could buy something to eat and drink. All of the locals from the village came to see what we were doing. We were met with a mixture of curiosity and fear. The children would come only close enough to see what we were doing.

Finally we decided to take a break near a small creek before riding to the next town, getting something to eat and finding a place to set up the tent. We do relaxing a lot better than we do riding up mountain roads.

And after riding for two days with out showering it was nice to take a bath in cold creek water.


We rode to the next town and the bus to Luang Nam Tha was waiting. We tossed the bikes on top of the bus and rode it the last sixty kilometres of the way.


We are going to do some day trips from here and then head to Luang Pra Bang. I am not sure how many more days like today I can take with out a big break in between.

Keep riding,