After our first month in Sri Lanka we flew to Bangkok to spend five days dipping into western luxury: of course sushi and other nice foods and drinks, daily massages and for the first time to a 4D cinema, which means moving chairs, light flashes, wind (from the headrest of the chair and the front), smell, water(spray) and even punches in the back during fights. The movie we saw was the latest mission impossible, resulting in a hilarious roller-coaster ride. We also met up with an old colleague of Carolina and did some muay thai box training and muay thai yoga before we continued to Cambodia.
We fly to Phnom Penh to start a biking adventure. We have done a bit of research and we made a rough plan to bike through Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam in around five weeks. Of course we need a bike first, and we know that there is a Giant bike shop in Phnom Penh. We are lucky, the shop just started discounting and they have nice hybrid bike perfectly suited for our needs, and all the other accessories we need.
Its time to really start cycling. Our route goes from here to the Mekong river, and then up north into Laos. This is through northern Cambodia, and as we discover the definition of rural. Most villages we pass are one street affairs with no electricity and water from pumps.The houses are made of the local hardwood, and are elevated on poles (for floodings, animals and to create a shady spot to rest). Along the road is a circus of travelling salesman: the ice-truck selling big lumps of ice for the cool boxes, these pipi langkous caravans completely loaded with household goods, scooters with food items that honk there horn to notify their arrival. It is great to observe, and the kids beside the road are wonderful, always waving and cheering there few English words, "Hello", "Bye-Bye", or "Falang" (foreigner) and "Sabaydee" (Hello in Lao). The contrast is nicely illustrated by the pictures of our accommodation in Siem Reap (with pool) and the first guesthouse the day after, with standing toilet which also doubles as the shower and has not been cleaned for ages. On the positive side: the costs are $5, and free condoms are provided. Because of the lack of reasonable guesthouses on this stretch, we need to cover 400 km in three days, with the second day a nice 175 km.
We enjoy two rest days on lazy Don Det: cooling off in the pool, some sunset viewing with a Lao beer, a trip to the waterfall and spotting the rare Irrawaddy dolphins. Cambodia was already laid back, but this even turns it up a notch. For Lao people it is important to have a job that satisfies, even if it means lower wages, and they really live in the moment. This might sometimes result in a slightly sloppy service in a restaurant, but it never becomes stressful, and it helps us to unwind as well. The next three days of cycling in Laos are better manageable stretches of around 100 km, although there is a decent climb to the Bolaven plateau, around 1300 meters high. The temperature also drops, the Lao find it f*cking freezing and walk around with beanies, but for us it is quite agreeably with night temperatures of around 20 degrees.The french started growing coffee in this area about 100 years ago, so we are able to enjoy some very decent 'bakkies pleur'. And of course the downhill of this plateau was a very fast day, Carolina's favorite day. We arrive at Tat Lo, the waterfalls.
Tomorrow we start cycling again, further up north to eventually reach Luang-prabang.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Tat lo, Salavan, Laos