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4 days on the Road, Laos

"The Loop" 4 days bike tour in Laos

Well it wasn’t just me and the road, I did have some of the Travellers or Anarchy with me. I jump a little ahead myself again and I want to show you the amazing bus Bas was able to get for us... it had fairies on the side of it and was all pink inside! biking_1_001.jpg It was the best bus Ive been on yet, well done Bas! Though I could of done without the karaoke for over half the way :/ The karaoke is constant on these busses and that is the hardest part of keeping sane on the long trips... it's difficult...

Anyhow, we arrive in Tha Khaek. We had heard of a couple good places to get bikes, one being near the bus station but we actually ended up hiring our bikes from more centrally in the city from Mr. Wang Wang for $4 p/day. The bikes were not Japanese like I had wanted but the Chinese ones we got held up really well and I did punish mine quite a bit being a novice rider.

So the ride is a well-known route called "The loop" ingeniously. It is 475km long and takes 4 days approx to ride for the main roads but added up with all the side treks more like 600km+. Here is the route map The_Loop.jpg
Most of the roads are something you would consider to be a road but there is still much to be desired and it's a good idea to keep an eye on the road at all times as even on the nicest roads you have potholes come up out of nowhere randomly.

The first day went well and we visited a few sites and had a swim, Soon it became apparent that we had not timed our visits and the time it would take to get to our first destination. But there was good reason, here are some of the pics from our visits, large_biking_1_091.jpgbiking_1_085.jpgbiking_1_056.jpgbiking_1_049.jpgbiking_1_104.jpgbiking_1_113.jpg Now throughout this cave the guide kept showing me these rock formation that looked like Elephants, well they did kind of but not as much as a formation I discovered...see if you can see it in this picture... it's carrying a tree in its trunk. biking_1_120.jpg Don't see it? It's layered so first layer is the head then the other layers of body come behind. The head is looking straight on with trunk in the middle holding a trunk..well...anyhow I claimed the discovery so if you go..you know.
This picture looks like Australia huh! biking_1_126.jpg When we were leaving there were locals being strange in the bushes, upon further inspection we found that they had a bag of snakes and lizards with them as we ran when they released them haha biking_1_133.jpg Next stop was this strange holy cave which had carved stairways looking much like that famous picture or type of picture with endless cycles or stairs. biking_1_137.jpgbiking_1_161.jpgbiking_1_194.jpgbiking_1_214.jpg When we were leaving we spotted some monks for some amazing pictures and a great chat. biking_1_215.jpgbiking_1_226.jpgbiking_1_238.jpgbiking_1_239.jpg This Gem supplied by the great Bas. large_biking_1_240.jpgbiking_1_242.jpgbiking_1_250.jpglarge_biking_1_262.jpg

We found ourselves well short of reaching our first sleeping stop when dark came and the road had deteriorated to a dusty dirt road with lots of potholes. Having a constant dust cloud ahead of me and the occasional car or truck going past making it impossible to see anything in the pitch black jungle...no lights here! Finally after a few hours we came across a town that we believed to be the right place... we were greeted with smiles and laughing from our hostel manage as we rode in weary and dirty, best greeting ever. We celebrated our survival with spring rolls! 1biking_1_288.jpg from there we continued on to the next destination. The road along this section of the ride was the worst with wet muddy slippery dusty roads for hours. By the end of it with muddy bikes and legs we had the road start to form into something rideable again. After this haul we decided we were due for a stop, finding a local shop in the town we stopped off. They were busy removing shells from peanuts for the day it seemed. we stayed for a while getting coffee and lollies (sharing with the collection of kids around) and chatting/laughing. biking_2_021.jpgbiking_2_024.jpgbiking_2_020.jpgbiking_2_072.jpgbiking_2_034.jpgbiking_2_035.jpgbiking_2_043.jpgbiking_2_048.jpgbiking_2_079.jpglarge_biking_2_077.jpgbiking_2_008.jpg

On our last stop we did fairly well arriving in town before dark. Once reaching the edges of town we stopped and asked some people where we were...before we knew it we were in a party of some sort having drinks poured down our throats and dancing. large_biking_2_096.jpgbiking_2_100.jpgbiking_2_099.jpg The kids were a crackup large_biking_2_088.jpgbiking_2_082.jpgbiking_2_089.jpg Soon we head off before we can't drive anymore, they even offer us to sleep there haha the hostel we found was not short of beer or views... biking_2_005.jpg

Next day was nice roads but a long drive with a waterfall in between... large_biking_2_018.jpg That’s the Frenchy we picked up along the way. biking_2_041.jpgbiking_2_044.jpg but 20km's out my tyre decides now is a good time to go flat. Luckily there was two bikes and we go find the next town and a mechanic, we ride a km or so to get help. After a while of speaking with multiple people I am told I need to bring the bike here, so I get dropped off and start the walk back with the bike. Finally get there and get it all fixed after hours of waiting don_det_018.jpg..though entertained by the locals helping us out the time passes quickly. Then it's a night ride to town which is hard with bugs in your teeth and no lights on the streets but we make it.

In the end it was a great ride and well worth doing.

S.

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 02:23 Archived in Laos Tagged ride laos bike loop tha the_loop theak Comments (0)

Vang Vieng to Vientiane, Laos

Village of Sin and the captial of Laos

I've been a bit slack on keeping up to date on these and I'd like to blame the shoddy net in Cambodia but...actually, that'll do ha.

So back to Luang Prabang for a quick reunion with the Spaniards and then onto Vang Vieng, the village of sin! I'm gonna make it sweet and just give you some pics for LP ;p

I decided to go to the water fall this time… I was not disappointed. large_waterfall_LP_050.jpgwaterfall_LP_044.jpgwaterfall_LP_097.jpgwaterfall_LP_080.jpgwaterfall_LP_057.jpgwaterfall_LP_040.jpgwaterfall_LP_047.jpg They also had Bears there, dunno why but hey, they seemed comfy hanging in a hammock... large_waterfall_LP_029.jpgwaterfall_LP_032.jpg At the bottom of the waterfall there was this track and I could not help but have to climb it as it did become a bit of a climb...I mean...what if it was amazing up there! I could not let that pass and find out later... waterfall_LP_123.jpg this is all i got :(
I love the tuktuk's in Laos, they are so colourful!luang_to_VV_001.jpg The way home... waterfall_LP_125.jpg

So the way out started off badly with an avalanche that set us back only really 40 minutes or so, which really was quite impressive...but I think they had been there a while before us. luang_to_VV_009.jpgluang_to_VV_007.jpg The army looked more intent on how they looked luang_to_VV_014.jpgluang_to_VV_025.jpg Finally we continue on and do a stop off for food and toilet..I enjoy the view...luang_to_VV_039.jpg

Next was vang Vieng! Now I had heard a lot of stories before getting here and had allready judged that I was not going to stay here long not being in the party mood. Also the stories I heard from many a traveller involving Australians dieing, to which I answer it is just Australians are easily lead astray with our carefree attitude, mostly by the Dutch I should add by my experience (Bas!:p) lol. Here is what the place looks like VV_021.jpgVV_005.jpgVV_030.jpgVV_033.jpgVV_035.jpgVV_037.jpgVV_040.jpgVV_041.jpgVV_046.jpglarge_VV_047.jpgVV_062.jpg So now that you know the layout of the place let me tell you how it all works. So Vang Vieng is pretty lawless. A south east Asia western town with a bought off sheriff, acting on the behalf of the towns bar'n'hotel owner. The place is full of restaurants with "happy" menu's. What this involves is some phsycadelic additive (Usually magic mushrooms) added pretty much to any food or beverage you want too. As I mentioned previously, there are a lot of stories with Australians dieing(others nationalities also I'm sure). This is due to NOT drinking with any moderation at all whilst floating in a big tyre tube down the Mekong river. Here is the place you get your allocated tube VV_027.jpg After this you are responsible on keeping this tube and returning with it or pay the loss of tube cost which is like $5. May not seem much but it is a lot here and really, the people that steal them (local kids) are in on it all and I'm sure get a commission of sorts, many a time I had to yell threats in order to get it returned (Not that I'd be able to swim at that stage, hence why people die!). So the thing is when you get to the river you tube/float and then get pulled in by numerous bars on the riverside which as thier first order of business is to make you swig a bottle of Loa Loa whiskey...which is disgusting but free all over...because it's disgusting. So you can imagine that with this and also drinking buckets of spirits that you become pretty inebriated, pretty quickly. At the bars they have these zip lines out into the water which are another reason why people die, there are dangerous rocks all over under the water people crack their heads on. I remember seeing a sign say something like "If you jump you will die...seriously...we love you." but if you decide to jump or go to do so they will do nothing to deter you. I guess the sign is clause enough for deniability of harm?!

So I had said that I would not do tubing after the first night. By the way our bungalow was RIGHT next to the bar, you can see here in this pic VV_081.jpg That is us on the furthest right VV_010.jpg You can see how close we were :/

Anyhow, I ended up tubeing the next day and from what Ive told you you can pretty much fill in the blanks of what happened....no really...fill in the blanks because I don't remember much having woken up on the river in the morning with no memory of how I got there and having to find my way back "home". The thing to remember is that I woke up with my kidneys within my body!

So after that I was pretty much a zombie, which is great because that is what Vang Vieng caters too. You see they understand that after a hard night and waking up on bamboo on the riverside you need to veg out but still keep the vitals going with the mundane things like eating and drinking. Here enters the restaurants of VV. Maybe it's best you just see them first VV_076.jpg but they don't come with bad views... VV has amazingly beautiful scenery VV_077.jpgVV_060.jpgVV_083.jpg Anyhow what the first picture there of the restaurant shows is TV screens and lie down tables. They have Friends and Family Guy running 24/7 on the TV screens there so that you can veg ouot and dribble on the floor in TV bliss. I might say now that the people serving you seem like they'd rather stab you cut you up and serve you to the next vegetable that comes in the door.

Anyhow I decided to leave sooner rather than later onto to Vientiane the Capital of Laos! I'm not gonna lie, it was'nt thaaat interesting but here are some pics from roaming about... large_storm_011.jpgstorm_003.jpg These are everywhere, they are for the spirits so they have a place to stay. storm_022.jpg Someone important I'm sure. storm_029.jpg... So Vientiane had a lot of storms when I was there, seemed to be like clockwork. One night there was a particularly big electrical storm so I went out on the balcony to try and get a lightning capture. I was very surprised AND lucky to of gotten this pic! large_storm_090.jpg

So Vientiane was pretty uneventful on a blog scale, but I did some things saw some stuff... it was really good...

S.

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 09:10 Archived in Laos Tagged water laos waterfall tuktuk prabang luang tuk vang vieng Comments (0)

Travellers of Anarchy

Ridin the roads of Laos

Arriving in Luang Namtha we quickly found the hostel we had been recommended which was great! It was a fully enclosed backpacker’s paradise. Well it was more than I had been used to for a while anyhow ;p
Quickly we made friends with some Spanish fellows who I went out on a biking trip around town with, 38km's of sightseeing!
First site we come to with a hella uphill ride we are met with an old lady charging to see it, so like the tight arse I am I back up whilst the others talk to her and take my pic!bike_namtha_011.jpg Here are a couple of pictures found along the way..bike_namtha_016.jpgbike_namtha_023.jpgbike_namtha_027.jpg
bike_namtha_049.jpg Soon I stopped at a shack to grab a picture bike_namtha_062.jpg I had some lychees I had been carrying around and this looked like a great setting to relax and have some refreshing fruit (I'd been craving Lychee's for a while now). bike_namtha_072.jpgbike_namtha_065.jpgbike_namtha_063.jpg The day is quite warm and even though we all look ridiculously good looking, we are sweating man stink from every orifice! Sooo when we came across a river with someone washing in it, it seemed like a good idea to go down for a dip... bike_namtha_107.jpg So In we get except for Jordi white. It was enjoyable up until the stage that we got out and asked ourselves what that smell was...hmm smells like poop...Oh, ok it's the river. Oh well, just have to move on. Next we go and get some food, not being able to find the place recommended we try a market and find nothing worthy of the word "meal". We spy some fruit stands bike_namtha_128.jpg and decide we will all just get lots of fruit...for some reason we all end up with a watermelon each (it was hot!). I have a lady cut me open a coconut, they really are great for hydrating (Thanks Brennan) bike_namtha_133.jpg. So we have all this fruit, then we notice a somewhat eating stand on the side of the market. One of the Spanish comes back from a reconnaissance mission and informs that there is rice! So we decide that that is more appetizing than the fruit, off we go. Now the place is not your 5 star establishments... bike_namtha_139.jpg But when you’re hungry and well you just have to give things a go sometimes and was I surprised... it was VERY good!bike_namtha_140.jpg It was very spicy, so we were glad we got the watermelon! bike_namtha_136.jpg Well onwards we continued, here are the pics bike namtha 193

bike namtha 193

bike_namtha_187.jpgbike_namtha_162.jpgbike_namtha_163.jpgbike_namtha_181.jpgbike_namtha_124.jpgbike_namtha_100.jpgbike_namtha_095.jpg I have to say it was an amazing ride, the scenery was ..Umm amazing ;p It's that ride that you imagine having before you have come over. Through rice paddy fields and old dirt towns with kids running around playing games. We went down one path and it was swarming with butterflies, was...amazing ;p

The next day it I met a Dutch couple...and well as soon as I knew they were Dutch they were my new best friends :) It seems that the guy's birthday was tomorrow and they were planning to go on a motorbike trip. So we all invited ourselves to their planned birthday trip of course! The next day we all gathered for a day trip on the roads of Laos. This is what the motley bunch looked like... large_Sons_of_Anarchy_003.jpg
Never before had the roads of Laos encountered such a mean gang of killer bikers! The Travellers of Anarchy were here!

The Chopper!
Sons_of_Anarchy_013.jpg
Soon in we stopped at a school where we proceeded to teach them skills that would lead them successfully through life! Sons_of_Anarchy_024.jpg Arm farting!!
We got to a market and bought Lao Lao whiskey with what we had left from the bike pot, this stuff is horrid and potent!Sons_of_Anarchy_052.jpg Soon we were at a Hmong village and the girls trying on some traditional clothing. They had a hard time with having bigger breasts than they were made for lol Sons_of_Anarchy_063.jpgSons_of_Anarchy_065.jpgSons_of_Anarchy_067.jpgSons_of_Anarchy_070.jpg The school.. Sons_of_Anarchy_071.jpg The ghost gate... Sons_of_Anarchy_073.jpg we got yelled at a little for going to close...I'm sure it was for our own benefeit! Sons_of_Anarchy_078.jpg The end was a waterfall (which I never saw, they wanted to charge us and we thought we'd send one up with a camera instead ;p)Sons_of_Anarchy_100.jpg
Ok, so we head back and there is rain and we all are running out of fuel but luckily we reach a shack selling some in bottles, I did learn a neat trick on cruising downhill with the bike turned off then restarting again when you need to saving fuel.

Next we all head down as a group back to Luang Prabang (Love this place!) on the way to Vang Vieng. While in LP I think it is time I actually go and see some of the sites. Somehow I end up going to see the central temple/stupa? Big golden thing in the middle of town on a hill. Things always seem to be a bit different when you go at night (May know what I mean if read Japan), so at midnight I head off with another Dutch. We try to ninja our way up but there are dogs :/ and bark they do...I just hope that the monks don't come out and kick our arse! Anyhow we get to the top and its all silent and cool there are these flood lights lighting up the stupa which is gold and looks cool. All of a sudden I hear "Subadee!" ... taken aback I turn my attention upwards from where I heard the call (It means, Hello!) and I see a strange sight. There is a man climbing over the stupa with a bamboo fishing rod with a moth on the end! I'm not sure what he is doing and my Laos does not help to create a conversation on the subject but he is running about collecting moths and has this rod...fling it out every now and then. I can only assume he is fishing for bats?!??! Anyhow the point is... it's good to try sites and such at night because there truly is a different feel to them and you see things you would otherwise never know.

The next day it's time to go and see this waterfall everyone keeps going on about and have a swim. The swim was actually more the drawcard! I'm just going to fling out a heap of photos at this point. Actually before I do, there was one surprise. They had black bears there also, they seemed pretty relaxed in their hammocks waterfall_LP_029.jpgwaterfall_LP_032.jpg Ok, now I’m gonna just give you the waterfall pics. The swim was great and waterfall surprisingly good also. Though the trek up to the top was not worth it at all :/ waterfall_LP_040.jpgwaterfall_LP_050.jpgwaterfall_LP_057.jpgwaterfall_LP_091.jpglarge_waterfall_LP_097.jpg This is what I climbed and slipped and sweated for... hardly worth it :/ waterfall_LP_123.jpg Then it's time to go home... large_waterfall_LP_125.jpg

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 06:24 Archived in Laos Tagged ride rice laos bike drive scooter biker namtha Comments (0)

The Ewok experience!

livin amongst the trees

Since an early age I’ve always dreamt of living in the trees, building tree houses (a plank across two branches in my lazy case) and swings...forts in the forest. The star wars films only enhanced this with the Ewok villages then in later days the elven tree top homes of Lord of the Rings.

So a dream come true, I got to live amongst the canopy of the jungle in Laos!!!!
large_Gibbon_162.jpg
Fortunately we are able to watch the sunset from our tree house :)

This had been something I had been planning on since day one of researching at home what to do in Laos. I'm wrapped that I actually got to do it as there is a lot of talk on the internet about it being hard to get bookings. I sent an email and got a reply within about 2 days, others have bad stories of no contact etc. Anyhow, arriving in Huay Xai we do the normal room checks of different guesthouses till we find one (I'm with the new yorkian Theresa, who is half Laos making it much better to communicate :p). Next day we meet at the office ready to head out, we are going with three other Dutch girls and also a guy from the U.S.A. heading out there to help build another tree house...he's an architect/engineer. How he talks about the building of the tree houses reassures me that it will be stable.

Out we drive for about 2 hours, the guy from the U.S. had been here before to help build the earlier tree houses comments on how different the landscape is coming back again. As we look out the window you can see a lot of barren land with felled trees, he explains that it was all jungle last time he came... a pity. We get dropped off and shown our harnesses which we will wear for the trek into the jungle about 2-3 hours. I think to go to the toilet here quickly, being our last stop at semi civilisation. Quickly I learn that bees will be a problem in the area as there is 100 or so buzzing around me.

The trek was fine though some of our group struggled at the start, it was very humid and sweat poured off you but the guides had many stops along the way...to many if you ask me. Eventually we reached our first zip line...it was f@*$'n high! I'm not going to lie to you, I was a little taken aback.Gibbon_209.jpg Gibbon_050.jpg But what the hell right, if those little fuzzy Ewoks can do this then surely I can! Now I have a lack of photos mainly because I was obsessed with getting the perfect feet picture to send to my family. We have this thing recently where you take a picture of your feet where you are and post it on our chat...anyhow I have like a million pictures of my feet zipping along but failed to really get anything of the great views from the line haha AND in the end I only got a few usable shots...Gibbon_054.jpgGibbon_093.jpg it's very hard taking photo's whilst zip lining and I paid for it by getting zip burns on my head...I had quite the collection by the end (If you’re not catching it, I put my head on the metal wire as I was scooting along it therefore ripping the flesh from my scalp). Now one could say that you could avoid this by wearing a hat, which is true but I was always adamant that I would not do it again. Well in the end I decided to wear my cap and ingeniously wear it backwards when zip lining...this worked well for a while until I forgot to turn it and lost my cap mid-way watching it float to the ground... :( (I’ve since been wearing a Laos bought trucker cap which is lopsided due to classy workmanship. I actually was filming that zip line and you can hear my wails when it leaves me...

There was a lot of zip lining and it was exhilarating every time! Finally we came to a place where the guides let us know was the tree house, it sits 150m up from the ground. large_Gibbon_217.jpg The tree house was nothing short of amazing, a lot better than I had expected. It was multi storied the bottom was the entrance via zip line on one side and the other side the bathroom with toilet, shower and sink. Up the stairs you enter the main level with a sink with drinkable water on tap along the trunk and flooring surrounding with beds and a table and stools. There was another level from here which seemed to be the penthouse which you could set up another bed. Here are some pics Gibbon_152.jpgGibbon_149.jpgGibbon_148.jpgGibbon_159.jpgGibbon_191.jpg

The architect had split up from us by now but I could see the tree they were building in from ours, you can see a blue shirt in the tree if you look closely large_Gibbon_251.jpg The trees are massive and well suited to houses but all are different and designed for that specific tree. The other thing we could see from our tree was a MASSIVE tree that housed the largest amount of bees I have ever seen, those things hanging from the limbs are hives!large_Gibbon_141.jpgGibbon_144.jpg We travelled to its base the next day to have a look Gibbon_205.jpgGibbon_200.jpg

As we arrive the guides quickly prepare us some snack food, lychee, mango and honey crisps Gibbon_147.jpg they are leaving and will be back in two hours or so...they have their own camp a little way off. Eventually they come back and bring us dinner, it's really quite nice and ample supply to fill me up. They leave for the night letting us know they will come for us in the morning, also mentioning that if we get a bad storm with big winds they will also come for us and to be ready as tree may fall...or something along those lines. That night it is soooo hot in the tent it's almost unbearable until winds start to pick up, soon I see light flash across the sky and distant thunder. Hot and bothered I crawl out to watch the incoming jungle storm, it was pretty amazing watching over the jungle canopy in pitch-black darkness the storm roll in...and it was big! So windy that I heard another tree fall in the short distance away. Constantly I thought the guides would be coming to take us but nup they never came.

The next day was much the same but we got to zip around a bit more, the guides said they would be taking us for a swim today which was met with eager enthusiasm! So after some zipping and some trekking we reach a point where we must now trek down stairs. Some may know that since Korea my knee has been playing up and these stairs killed it, by the end I was in hell pain so I definitely have some issues there. We finally reach a hut which sell beer and cold soft drink, you would of thought us gone a month by how we skull the drinks. A river is right next to the hut and we have a swim to freshen up, and then head out to civilisation by truck with retro fitted seats in the ute tray. I decide that outside will be better as I envied the people last time with having the outside breeze. Wrong decision... the road going out is crazy bumpy nearly kicking me out a few times but I make it and back in Huay Xai we meet up with our other travellers to head on to Luang Namtha.

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 22:44 Archived in Laos Tagged jungle laos gibbon bees gibbon_experience ewok Comments (0)

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