The fourth and last step of my trip in Laos. This time the road was barely flat and I enjoyed it! The weather tended to turn to rain but I managed to stay dry every night as there was no wind like in the mountains. Contrary of what I heard from Stéphane, the people on this area were very friendly with me. The kids, as always, said “hello”, “good morning” or even “thank you” when I passed them. At the beginning I thought about cycling until Savannakhet to apply for a “2 month Thai visa” but I realised I did not need 2 months. A VOA (Visa On Arrival) of 28 days for free will be enough. On the way, I came across the friendly bridge number 3 and decided to shorten slightly my stay in Laos.
Except one or two big hills, that third part got easier. In fact, closer I got to the capital, flatter the road became. The thing is, I was pretty tired from what I’ve done previously. One day off with Stephane was clearly not enough to rest completely. I did not have too much choice except keep on going because my visa would end in a week. On the way, I met Bright from China, another touring cyclist. We arrived in Vientiane together and spent some time around. I stayed in Vientiane for nearly 3 weeks finally.
This has been the hardest step I’ve done since I’ve started cycling from New Zealand. I’ve never had to push that often. They were lost of slopes with more than 10% grade and nearly everyday the total ascend surpassed 1000m. I was really happy to arrive in a valley after those 8 days travelling in the mountains, northern side of Laos.
What a change! I always thought Northern Thailand was the hard part but I was wrong. The first two days in Laos was so hilly that I had to push my bike several times. At that time I thought: “Was it a good idea to get here?”. Fortunately, I met some other cyclists travelling the opposite way so I didn’t felt alone. It gave me motivation to make it! Bloody hills!
The third and last step was a nice ride around the lake Maninjau and around western Sumatra in general. I met another very nice family with who I stayed only 2 nights because I was not sure how long it would take to get to Dumai before the end of my visa. I would have stayed more if I could. Then I’ve crossed the mountains and got back to Bukittinggi. Finally I’ve headed through flat lands until I caught the Ferry for Malacca.