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04 Jul 2017 118 views
 
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photoblog image A short visit to Laos #2

A short visit to Laos #2

First day is something of a marathon effort, involving multi-transport, border crossings, near-death experiences...brace yourself.

 

It is 200km East to Ubon Ratchathani from my house...we need to be there to catch a cross-border bus at 0900, so leave at 0600. Tim is driving us in his car. His wife, Khun Aay is with us...she will take charge of the car in Ubon Ratchathani, then meet with a local friend who will drive her 250km NW to their house [map reference #7] in Kalasin Province.

 

Despite encountering entensive road-works, we make it to the bus-station in good time, purchase tickets and climb aboard. This bus offers travel as well as "assistance" with cross-border formalities. We are surprised to discover how slowly the bus progresses, and our anticipated 90 minute journey actually takes 4 hours.

 

We disembark in Pakse, but this is not our destination for tonight. The "plan" is to take possession of touring bicycles and use them to make a pleasant, scenic 30km trip to The Bolaven Plateau and spend the night at Tad Fane resort [map reference #2].

 

Ho Ho Ho! We should have realised "Plateau" a high, flat chunk of land indicates we will be riding up hill! Indeed, the trip was entirely up! Not a single metre of down, nor even flat. I did ask Koen, a 2 metre tall Dutchman, if he would be capable of the ride when we first decided to add this bicycle adventure component to our trip..."I was born and raised in Dutchland", he proclaimed, "and all Dutch folks are experienced and capable cyclists...of course I will be fine, Old Man!" Koen did not make allowance for the fact that Dutchland is entirely devoid of hills!

 

After about 5km it was evident Koen was having difficulties...after 10km he realised his predicament, and stopped. New plan...hitch a lift up the hill to the resort!

 

By the time I realised Koen had stopped riding, and retraced my ride about 1 km looking for him, Koen had flagged down a Laos man in a fancy car and talked his way into a ride to the resort. The kindly gentleman insisted there was room for all our bicycles and bodies, so Tim decided to accompany Koen to ensure he was not kidnapped.

 

Ray, however, does not quit! Stupid Old Man that I am, I insist on riding all the way. I arrive in the dark, totally spent after 4 hours on the bicycle. I barely summons the energy to swallow the contents of a cold beer can before falling on to my bed in a coma... [this was 2 months before I decided that cycling was to be my sport...now I am confident I would be able to make this ride without distress.]

 

The accompanying picture is of one of the gorgeous waterfalls that can be found on the Plateau escarpment...I didn't actually see this one until the next day, as it was dark when I rode past it the night before.

 

This was a looong first day!

 

A short visit to Laos #2

First day is something of a marathon effort, involving multi-transport, border crossings, near-death experiences...brace yourself.

 

It is 200km East to Ubon Ratchathani from my house...we need to be there to catch a cross-border bus at 0900, so leave at 0600. Tim is driving us in his car. His wife, Khun Aay is with us...she will take charge of the car in Ubon Ratchathani, then meet with a local friend who will drive her 250km NW to their house [map reference #7] in Kalasin Province.

 

Despite encountering entensive road-works, we make it to the bus-station in good time, purchase tickets and climb aboard. This bus offers travel as well as "assistance" with cross-border formalities. We are surprised to discover how slowly the bus progresses, and our anticipated 90 minute journey actually takes 4 hours.

 

We disembark in Pakse, but this is not our destination for tonight. The "plan" is to take possession of touring bicycles and use them to make a pleasant, scenic 30km trip to The Bolaven Plateau and spend the night at Tad Fane resort [map reference #2].

 

Ho Ho Ho! We should have realised "Plateau" a high, flat chunk of land indicates we will be riding up hill! Indeed, the trip was entirely up! Not a single metre of down, nor even flat. I did ask Koen, a 2 metre tall Dutchman, if he would be capable of the ride when we first decided to add this bicycle adventure component to our trip..."I was born and raised in Dutchland", he proclaimed, "and all Dutch folks are experienced and capable cyclists...of course I will be fine, Old Man!" Koen did not make allowance for the fact that Dutchland is entirely devoid of hills!

 

After about 5km it was evident Koen was having difficulties...after 10km he realised his predicament, and stopped. New plan...hitch a lift up the hill to the resort!

 

By the time I realised Koen had stopped riding, and retraced my ride about 1 km looking for him, Koen had flagged down a Laos man in a fancy car and talked his way into a ride to the resort. The kindly gentleman insisted there was room for all our bicycles and bodies, so Tim decided to accompany Koen to ensure he was not kidnapped.

 

Ray, however, does not quit! Stupid Old Man that I am, I insist on riding all the way. I arrive in the dark, totally spent after 4 hours on the bicycle. I barely summons the energy to swallow the contents of a cold beer can before falling on to my bed in a coma... [this was 2 months before I decided that cycling was to be my sport...now I am confident I would be able to make this ride without distress.]

 

The accompanying picture is of one of the gorgeous waterfalls that can be found on the Plateau escarpment...I didn't actually see this one until the next day, as it was dark when I rode past it the night before.

 

This was a looong first day!

 

comments (13)

  • Lisl
  • Bath, England
  • 4 Jul 2017, 05:35
I hope this didn't wear you all out for the next day's outing
Ray: See tomorrow, Lisl.
  • Chris
  • Not Nowhere
  • 4 Jul 2017, 06:50
I am trying to decide just how raving mad you are to want to experience first hand all you describe. But I'm glad you did it, great entertainment!
Ray: One of those memorable days we Lads laugh about when "planning" our next outing, Chris.
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 4 Jul 2017, 06:56
Three waterfalls- this is extraordinary! Later I'll read your diary.
Ray: Many beautiful waterfalls here, Philine. The following may assist you with the reading chore:

Der erste Tag ist ein Marathon-Aufwand, bei dem Multi-Transport, Grenzübergänge, Nahtoderlebnisse ... sich selbst hemmen.
 
Es ist 200km Ost nach Ubon Ratchathani von meinem Haus ... wir müssen dort sein, um einen grenzüberschreitenden Bus um 0900 zu fangen, also um 06.00 Uhr verlassen. Tim fährt uns in seinem Auto. Seine Frau, Khun Aay ist bei uns ... sie wird das Auto in Ubon Ratchathani übernehmen, dann treffen sie sich mit einem lokalen Freund, der ihre 250km NW zu ihrem Haus [Karte Referenz # 7] in der Kalasin Provinz fahren wird.
 
Trotz der begeisterten Straßenarbeiten machen wir es rechtzeitig zum Busbahnhof, kaufen Tickets und steigen an Bord. Dieser Bus bietet sowohl Reisen als auch "Hilfe" mit grenzüberschreitenden Formalitäten an. Wir sind überrascht zu entdecken, wie langsam der Bus fortschreitet, und unsere voraussichtliche 90-minütige Fahrt dauert tatsächlich 4 Stunden.
 
Wir sind in Pakse aussteigen, aber das ist nicht unser Ziel für heute Abend. Der "Plan" ist, Besichtigung von Fahrrädern zu nehmen und sie zu nutzen, um eine angenehme, malerische 30km Fahrt zum Bolaven Plateau zu machen und die Nacht im Tad Fane Resort zu verbringen [Karte Referenz # 2].
 
Ho Ho Ho! Wir hätten "Plateau" ein hohes, flaches Stück Land erkennen müssen, dass wir auf dem Hügel fahren werden! In der Tat war die Reise ganz auf! Nicht ein einziger Meter von unten, noch flach. Ich habe gefragt, Koen, ein 2 Meter großer Holländer, wenn er in der Lage wäre, die Fahrt zu machen, als wir uns entschieden haben, diese Fahrrad-Abenteuer-Komponente zu unserer Reise hinzuzufügen ... "Ich bin in Niederländisch geboren und aufgewachsen", verkündete er, "und Alle niederländischen Leute sind erfahrene und fähige Radfahrer ... natürlich geht es mir gut, alter Mann! " Koen hat nicht berücksichtigt, dass das niederländische Land ganz frei von Hügeln ist!
 
Nach ca. 5km war es offensichtlich, dass Koen Schwierigkeiten hatte ... nach 10km erkannte er seine Zwangslage und blieb stehen. Neuer Plan ... hitch einen Aufzug auf den Hügel zum Resort!
 
Als ich bemerkte, dass Koen aufgehört hatte zu reiten und meine Fahrt um 1 km auf der Suche nach ihm zurückzuholen, hatte Koen einen Laos-Mann in einem schickem Auto niedergeschlagen und sprach seinen Weg in eine Fahrt zum Resort. Der freundliche Gentleman bestand darauf, dass es Platz für alle unsere Fahrräder und Körper gab, also entschloss Tim, Koen zu begleiten, um sicherzustellen, dass er nicht entführt wurde.
 
Ray aber hört nicht auf! Dummer alter Mann, den ich bin, ich bestehe darauf, den ganzen Weg zu reiten. Ich komme in die Dunkelheit, total verbracht nach 4 Stunden auf dem Fahrrad. Ich beschwöre kaum die Energie, den Inhalt eines kalten Bieres zu verschlingen, bevor ich in ein Koma auf mein Bett falle ... [das war 2 Monate bevor ich entschied, dass Radfahren mein Sport sein sollte ... jetzt bin ich zuversichtlich, dass ich es würde In der Lage sein, diese Fahrt ohne Not zu machen.]
 
Das begleitende Bild ist von einem der wunderschönen Wasserfälle, die man auf dem Plateau-Escarpment finden kann ... Ich habe das bis zum nächsten Tag nicht wirklich gesehen, da es dunkel war, als ich am Abend zuvor an ihm vorbeifuhr.
 
Das war ein langer erster Tag!
Magnifique cadre pour cette cascade.
Ray: Les forêts tropicales sont spectaculaires pour la diversité de leur flore, Martine.
Great start to your Odyssey.
Ray: On reflection, Bill, it was great...at the time I was not so sure...
  • gutteridge
  • Somewhere in deep space
  • 4 Jul 2017, 08:08
Wow what a start. You remind me of TE Lawrence, whose book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, I am reading at the moment. Mind you he would have described your tale as bloomin' luxury. But hey, everything is relevant, as Mr A BeerGlass once said.
Ray: "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" is one of my childhood favourite books, Chad, and I read it 2 or 3 times. When you are done with it, then I recommend you find his "The Mint" which is also excellent. Then get ole Tiffo to run you down to T.E. Lawrence's grave...in the tea-shop there you can see some very fine pics of T.E on his lovely Brough Superior motorcycle.
Cycling long distances in heat must be exhausting in itself. Good for adventures though.
Ray: I ride about 50km nearly every day in the heat, now, Mary, and can cope with it fine...when I did the ride, though, I was not bike fit, and the unrelenting up-hill route was excessive.
I am all agog for the near death experience!
Ray: Silly Old Men sometimes do silly things, Tom...well, this one does..
Pace yourself, mate...smile
Ray: The problem about pacing was that we didn't start the bike ride until 1500, and it is dark about 1815...
  • Alan
  • United Kingdom
  • 4 Jul 2017, 18:46
Oh dear! No mention of any tea and cake to help you on your epic climb, either. At least you you live to tell the tale.
Ray: No tea...no cake...

However, there were roadside stalls where I quickly learned enough Laos language to be able to purchase bottles of cool, clean water.
That is so gorgeous! All of it! Great story - thank you for risking your life! smile
Ray: You are most welcome, Elizabeth. smile
an interesting anecdote about the Dutchman and very commendable that you stuck to it, Ray. fantastic stuff!
Great image Ray. I wish I had your inspiration and energy.

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