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!
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.
Big day today, I’ve done much more kilometres than expected. This morning, I’ve covered the 47km that separated me to the border. I had one gentle hill few kilometres after I started and then all the way was flat. Then, I went directly towards the immigration office. I realised that my visa ended on the 4th so I had to pay 500baht (about 13€) for this extra day. I’ve read online that for one day the immigration would let me go but that was not the case today. That’s my fault, I should I checked more carefully. Another surprise is they did not let me cycle on the bridge. I had to catch a bus and pay for that… Finally I arrived on the other side of the Mekong, organised my VOA (Visa On Arrival) and started my journey through the mountains in Laos :-)
What a waste of time today… This morning was all good. I’ve stayed with Kom and Tu’s family until 3pm. They invited me to a party organised by one of a village’s member who just finished his house. The guys nearly forced me to drink their local whisky. Then we moved to a wedding party where there was about 100 people minimum and I had to drink even more Whisky. They mix it with water so it’s not that strong but the taste still doesn’t fit me. Then, one of Kom’s friend invited us to his house to have some lunch and beer (I’m not lucky). Finally, we came back to Kom and Tu’s home so I could prepare myself and continue my trip. Those two days were nice. This family is fun. Everything was fine until, back on the road, I made the decision to use a shortcut through the forest. Well, I did not know it was through the bush. After 7km on the road I had two options: going north east across some hills or cycling around it in the valley which was longer. I’ve chosen the shorter road which revealed itself to be a path, then a track, then a dead end…
I know it, today I’m going to push my bike. Last night was quite comfortable, I had a good sleep and I’m now ready to cross that pass. Once done, the rest of the day should be quite easy. Late this afternoon I stopped in a small town and slept in a market place.
This time I found what I was expecting being a proper and real road in northern Thailand. On this picture, I’ve push my bike from bottom to top. In that case I prefer to save the belt of my bicycle than pushing so hard on the pedals and shorten its life just to say “I’ve done this”. I had to tackle several steep hills today and walked many times too but the landscapes were different than what I’ve seen until now in Thailand. I have no regret suffering a bit to enjoy more.
Today we cycled only until midday but still did 47km :-) We done the first 20km until we reached a temple called Wat Phra Borommathat. After the visit we had breakfast and then continued travelling north. Then we kept on going until we arrived in Sam Ngao, a village very close to the Bhumibol artificial lake. In fact, in the 50’s the government started the construction of the Bhumibol Dam, named after the King. They needed 6 years to build it and another 6 years to fill it! Once we got to temple of the village, after a hot rest, we cycled and visit that famous dam. The way to reach it is far to be flat. That’s the most hilly place I’ve been to in Thailand until now.