Today I have done two passes again. There is not much choice if I want to keep doing a minimum of 70km per day. I have also met 3 cyclists from United Kingdom during the first morning ascension. Once at the top, I was welcome by those 4 children who waited for me to take pictures of them. Then I continued downhill until I reached the river and a village where I had my lunch break. Finally I started the second climb of the day, reached the summit and then got caught by the night and a double storm. I really thought I would finish the night fully wet but fortunately my camp site resisted. Lucky me!
After 12 days spent in Luang Namtha I’m on the move again. I can say, I had a good physical rest :-) I’ve got 15 days left in Laos to get to Vientiane from where I will renew my visa. I must do 70km per day everyday with one day off in Phonsavan. If I feel I won’t make it I will take the shortcut through Luang Prabang. For the first day, I have done more kilometre than expected but that’s good! I prefer to be on time this time :-)
Today is the real Laos New Year but I don’t really realise it as there is parties every single day here. Their neighbour as cooked lots of food for us. We could barely finish everything. Every time a plate was half full she would come back to top it up. I’ve joined the Tang, Chiang and their mates to celebrate another special day as well today. There is the birthday of one of them. I’m sorry I cannot remember all the names… The one with the green t-shirt is turning 21 today (I think).
Unfortunately I’ve took some pictures today but lost all of them after a bad manipulation… The only thing I have is a tiny video I made with my phone that day, better than nothing. As planned, I met Tang, Chiang and all their chinese classmates today. They have been invited by the school academy to celebrate the Laos New Year. First, they offered a t-shirt to everyone and then we wished Happy New Year to each other by attaching a bracelet to the other person’s wrist. We do one wrist and then the other one. At the end of the day, you can end up with hundreds of bracelets on each wrist ;-) At the same time, some people distributed eggs but I could not find out why.
When that little “ceremony” was finished we sat around the table and started lunch. At this point, a woman standed up, picked up a container with water and walked around the tables. Person after person, she tapped your shoulder and then pour some fresh water in your back wishing you happy new year. The first time, it’s surprising and so cold but after a while you get use to, well, not when they put ice cubes in the water :-)
Then came the beer, the music and so on. During all the afternoon, some guy would walk around the place with a bottle of beer and make drink everyone they can. I hate beer… More I have to drink, and worse I think it is, beurk!
After 4pm we pursuited the rest of the afternoon in the river. I had a big surprise when I realised that 90% of the chinese did not know how to swim! Even in 50 cm of water they were scared. I’ve tried to explain the basics but in the river, with the current, it’s not the easier place to learn if you want to master your fear.
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!
Today I’m gonna reach Luang Namtha where I will stay minimum 8 days. I’ve got some work to do from my laptop and fortunately found a very nice guesthouse on Booking. One night in a bungalow cost 69.000Kip (7.50€). I’ve my own little terrace, toilets, shower, room and bed.
That second day in Laos is on the list of the toughest day I’ve done in my whole trip. The road is in very good conditions but most of the slopes have a 10% steepness (and sometimes more I’m sure). When the weather becomes hot it’s barely possible to push the bike. Fortunately, every uphill are following by nice downhills :-) Today I could observe with more details how Laos people live. Of course, their habitations doesn’t look as solid as Thailand but the people seem to live well. Especially the kids who say hello every time they see me and any cyclist I’m sure. Some of them run next to the road and raise their hands so we can do “high five” haha.