First 2 weeks in Laos

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Surprisingly, riding out of Bangkok was easy and fast. I was surprised how easy it was to cycle in and out of this super busy metropolis. I rode to Ayutthaya in no time where I spent a day exploring the quiet, slow pace streets and its temples. Being the ancient capital of the Kingdom, there are quite a few temples in and around town worth visiting. My time in Thailand running out, I couldn’t spend more than a day there and had to make a dash to the border towards Savannakhet in Laos.

Country side Laos

Country side Laos

I intended to cross over Laos rolling on the Friendship Bridge II but things didn’t go that way. Arriving at the immigration stall, I noticed that there was no motorbikes around; only cars, SUVs, buses and trucks. I handed my passport to the official who ask me how I was travelling. He’s reply to my answer was “Impossible to cross the bridge by bicycle; too dangerous.” I thought of making a run for it and try my luck anyway, but he simply refused to stamp my passport. I directed me to his supervisor into a different building. The chief officer there explained, in very good English, motorbikes and bicycles weren’t allowed on the bridge for safety reasons; the bridge is too narrow. After trying to convince him in friendly matter, I agreed to try and find someone with a pickup truck welling to pick me and my gear and cross the bridge. He stamped my passport, thanked him and went on hunt. After an hour, a friendly Laos dam engineer agreed to pick me up. For a minute spent crossing the wide 2 lanes bridge, we were alone. I didn’t see any danger for a cyclist or a motorbike crossing that bridge.

Building in Savannakhet

Building in Savannakhet

Towards Vientiane, break stop close to a viallge

Towards Vientiane, break stop close to a viallge

Once on the other side, the Cambodian visa process was a breeze. I rolled into Savannakhet on nearly deserted roads until I got to the town center where traffic picked up. The slow pace and quieter roads of Laos were a contrast with busy and fast pace roads of Thailand. After spending a few days with fellow cyclists in Savannaketh, I was excited to take on these quiet roads and get in touch with the friendly Laos people in villages.

Towards Vientiane, rolling into yet another viallge

Towards Vientiane, rolling into yet another village

Billboard In Thakhek

Billboard In Thakhek

Despite the scenery of repetitive similar forest and fields, I enjoyed the ride up to Vientiane mostly because of good quality food and friendly people in the many villages dotting the way. One late afternoon, I rolled in a small town looking for a guesthouse for the night. As I rolled towards the entrance of one, I could hear music pumping from a large speaker, laughs and the sounds of empty beer bottles clinging onto each other. As soon as I rolled in the front fence, the group sitting at the table gestured me to join in. A feast was going on with fish cooked on the traditional charcoal BBQ, fresh green papaya salad, a large bucket of sticky rice, large portion of sticky noodles and 2 cartons of large Beer Lao was waiting to be consumed. As I sat down food was thrown in front of me, a glass of beer was poured and the discussions started. Despite the language barrier, there was understanding of my story and laughs were frequent. For about 30 minutes, I had a mouth full of food or skulling down another glass of beer. My glass was refilled immediately after either taking a sip or finishing it. After about 2 hours of non-stop alcohol consumption, my head was spinning. I went to my bungalow earlier than before and drunker than I’ve ever been for a long time. I woke up in the middle of the night realizing that I didn’t take a shower, smelling of a mix of alcohol and sweat. The next day, my head was surprisingly in good shape. No hangover and energised. So I jumped back on the bike, slowly making my way towards Vientiane, the Capital.

Farming along the river is a regular sight

Farming along the river is a regular sight

Great food at the guesthouse

Great food at the guesthouse

Author: Pascal Lachance

I'm Pascal, cyclist, travel lover, software developer by trade and an enthusiastic photographer. I'm now cycling around the world, take the time to visit as many places as I can!

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