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Monday, 2 July 2012

8 JUNE 2012 DAY 14: NAM NEUN - PAKXAN (400kms)

We have lost some days due to the mountain riding, so today on Day 14 of the ride, we must make it to Pakxan. We had our early breakfast at the same place we had dinner last night. The lady was very nice and even though she couldn't speak a word of English, we can still communicate using hand signals and I had to enter her kitchen in order to tell her what I want to eat. I had sticky rice and omelette for breakfast and while she's cooking in the kitchen, I took the opportunity to visit a nearby market and check out stuff sold there.

The guest house with no electricity which I stayed last night

Very nice smell of the BBQ fresh water fishes sold at the market

After breakfast, we rode the steep winding road from Nam Neun to Muang Kham. It has been 10 days in a row that I'm riding on winding road, and frankly speaking, I am getting very tired of it. How I longed for a straight road!!! It took 2hrs 15 mins to cover the 90kms journey via route 6. The view was as usual beautiful with greens, mountains and valleys. 

After Muang Kham, the road got easier as it was more straighten. I was very happy that finally the winding and the tiring challenges had ended (and so I thought). Hadi need to change his tyres at Phonsavan, so he rode ahead while I took my own sweet time riding alone for about 60kms, enjoying the view and took pics - something which I didn't quite get the chance when riding in the mountains, due to the rushing and lack of suitable place to stop the bike as the most beautiful views can only be seen while ascending or descending very steep road. I didn't face any trouble to find the bike service shop in Phonsavan, and we took the opportunity to service our bikes. 

The ride from Phonsavan to Moung Khoune was an easy one. There were some winding roads, but not so bad. We visited the Plain of Jars (site 1), as this is the trade mark of Laos. The jars were fine (I have yet to read about it), but what I really like was the view at this place. The green hills reminded me of Switzerland. Very beautiful.

Terrace rice fields

The Plain of Jars (site 1)

Then we moved on, riding a combination of tarred road, gravel road, rocky road and red dirt road until Hatdiat. Even though this is a new experience for me, I was kind of enjoying it, until the next challenge arise. Two bridges at Hatdiat were under construction (due to flood), and this left us with no choice but to transfer our bikes on sampan and bamboo raft. I had to ride down a steep rocky road with loose stones to reach the place where my bike will be loaded on the thin sampan and later a raft. It was very challenging for me to keep the stability of the bike. Being foreigners, of course we had to pay for the ride, when locals rode for free. While rafting the river, six local guys had to support the raft to keep it floating. The river got deeper and I was kinda worried when the water level rose to the guys' chests. Thank god we managed to cross to the other side of the river safely. 

The rocky road that I had to pass

The steep red dirt road to get to the sampan

The 1st collapsed bridge under construction
1st river crossing on a thin sampan

2nd rocky path leading to the river

The river is only about 80meters....not wide...NOT WIDE?

The 2nd bridge still under construction

The only mode of transportation - bamboo raft

We continued on. I was careless as to miss a junction and was scolded by Hadi. Its getting late and we rode on to Pakxan as fast as we could. The road was slightly winding, ascending and descending, but paved nicely and deserted, so we didn’t have to take so long to cover the remaining 80kms. However, still we reached Pakxan after dark. I have to navigate my way to the town centre without a street map and have to ask locals for direction. I was lucky that I found someone who can speak good English at this town to help me with direction. There were quite a number of guest houses in Pakxan, but only one with wifi and very cheap as well - USD10 for a nice private room with attached bathroom and airconditioned. Total ride today is approximately 400kms, 12 hours (inclusive of waiting time to cross the river).


Band: NASTIA, Title: ANGGUR (taken from EP 'EKSPRESI')