Thursday, November 6, 2008

Namphu flowing in Vientiane

First of many temples to come - Nong Khai

The new Boardwalk at Nong Khai's Mekong riverside


Former Governor's mansion

Two flights with a 3 hr stopover, plus one 50km ride on a chartered Hilux pick-up saw us finally in the border town of Nong Khai, Isaan district Thailand. It was not a good start to find out that our supposedly booked room at Kiang Khong Guesthouse was given up. Fortunately, the Ruan Thai guesthouse next door had a spacious big room. That evening, we experience the heaviest downpour ever that turned the road outside our guesthouse into a river of mud.

What was formerly a road, now a mud bath after heavy showers

After a late breakfast, we set off for an easy 30km ride from the border town of Nong Khai, Thailand into laid back Vientiane. There was a sign prohibiting bicycles crossing the Friendship Bridge that spans the Mekong and that got us worried. Fortunately, the immigration ladies at the Thai side were too busy having their sticky rice lunch, and we didnt stop to ask. A quick 1200m zoom through and we were in Lao PDR.


Pic by CW

It was about noon and with some head winds, it was hard to maintain 26kmh. The blazing sun didnt help but we were in the city within an hour. A quick meeting with Nang, Country Manager of Joma Bakery saw us secure our most important flight ticket to Luang Prabuang tomorrow. Being high season, most of the hotels we checked was full but surprisingly, the ever popular Mali Namphu had one room and we grabbed it.

It was great to be on the saddle and the short ride was just the thing to warm up our legs for the long ride to come. I certainly didn't deserve a massage but had one anyway, and it was super. Prices have gone 50% since I was last here and talk about runaway inflation especially in hotel rates. With the global financial turmoil, I don't think this will last.

It was nice to see that the Namphu fountain shooting spouts of water, something I didn't get to see in March last year. Well, at least this is still free, for now.

1 comment:

Ken said...

Hi Chris,

I found your blog through Dave Snowberg. I'm new to bike touring and was wondering if I could contact you for some advice.

Thanks,
Ken
adventurenomad at gmail dot com