Laos, Pongsavan, Luang Prabang – Evrim and Elif Yiğit Tour Journals, February 26, 2012

17/05/2012  //     //  Genel Duyuru ve Haberler ( Bisiklet, Triatlon, Atletizm, Yüzme ), Turlar ve Organizasyonlar

 

 

During the 2 days we stay in Nong Khiew,
we try to gather information about the road we’re going to follow. However it’s
impossible to learn a precise information from the local people. There’s a town
160km away from here on our map and they say that we can find a hotel there. But
in this hilly nature it’s nearly impossible to ride 160km in a day with loaded
bikes. Besides we’re planning to enjoy this region proceeding slowly and stay
away from big cities and see less touristy places in Laos where we’ll stay for
2 more weeks. We prepare our bikes early in the morning and fill our stomach at
the diner where we’ve been having all our breakfasts at. Our journey goes on a
flat road for nearly 10km and immediately after that, the ascents begin. This
road actually follows a river but the hilly nature of this region is very
rough. Because of this, the road can meet the river very occasionally. Villages
are generally where the road meets the river and they’re at an altitude of
300-400m. 
Some mountain villages are at an
altitude of 1000-1500m and they’re just at the top of the mountain. Because of
this hilly geography the road proceeds like this; First you start from the
river side, altitude is 400m, then you slowly start climbing, altitude is 1500m
at the top, then you get down to the river level to 400m and a mountain blocks
your way again just after that and you have to climb to 1500m. So even if you
ride for a short distance, you have to climb a lot. The road ahead of you will
climb for 6-7km without a break and then go down to the altitude you’re at. We
rode for a very short distance the first day; 50km. We stopped as we saw a very
pretty Guest House (GH) in a village near the road, but we had had to struggle
at least 5 ascents and that more descents. Where we are is on the smiling side
of the map for now. Which means the mountains haven’t begun yet as it seems. Longer
climbs are definitely awaiting us on the following days.

The other day we keep on being lucky and
see another pleasant village after a 4-5 hours ride. Towards the end of the
town, there’s a GH which only can be seen by attentive eyes. It’s yet very
early and we don’t feel tired so we declare this day as the laundry day. There’s
a goldfish in a little pool in the hotel where they accumulate the water coming
from mountains. Water’s clean since it constantly flows. We shower with the
ice-cold water and do our laundry trying not to hurt the fish. It’s possible to
encounter alive fishes in the toilet waters and living in the ornamental pools
in front of the houses. Especially in the toilets, there are tile cubes where
cleaning water is accumulated, inside these cubes there are usually a couple of
golfishes. But the most interesting fish I’ve seen in Laos was in a bathroom of
a diner. There were 4-5 fishes which resembled trouts in our country near the
squatting pan. As you think about their size and appearance you figure out that
it’s not for decoration but for eating. You think that a drunk customer will
definitely miss the hole and pee on the fishes. I felt lucky since I only had a
beer and ate nothing.

 

We meet 3 cyclists in the town we’ll
arrive two days later. Two of the cyclists has come here from Vietnam and
they’ll follow our opposite direction. Belgian will proceed to the same
direction as ours. We drink beer and have a nice conversation all together in
the evening. We wish each other luck for the next day and say goodbye. We don’t
make a plan to meet the Belgian in the morning. Anyway we both have to stay in
the next town for a day and we’ll probably meet each other on the way. In fact
Belgian has rented a bike for 1 week and after leaving his stuff to a friend of
his, he began a short journey. Because of this, he has no load and his bike is
quite light in weight. But since he doesn’t have SPD pedals and has generally
ridden a road bike, his bike is very uncomfortable for a long ride.

 

Even if we get on the road around
10:00am we catch the cyclist at the first ascents. Our new fellow rider had
unfortunately taken a wrong turn and realized that after 5-6km. Since he had
had to turn all the way back, he decided not to hurry and ride carefully. Just
because of this despite of our loaded bikes we both can catch the Belgian
cyclist. Since there’re lots of ramps on the road, all proceed with their own
pace on the road and the first one arrives waits for the others to come in one
of the villages at the top. After proceeding like this, we reach the next town.
But the last 5-6km before arriving this town has been one of the best descents
of my life. The beauty of the roads in Laos is that they have a fixed incline. If
the incline is around 8-9%, this is the same at the ascents and the descents as
well. Which means you don’t have to slow down at the turns as you’re going with
45-50kmph or your bike doesn’t speed up because of the varying incline. This is
situation is the same on this road but one side of the road is an abyss and you
can see the town below beginning from the very top. You have to use the brakes
during the descent because there’re consecutive turns and you may not have the
opportunity to incline the bike to left and right followingly. Because of this,
reaching a very high speed isn’t possible but the thrill you’ll experience
until you go down is amazing.

 

The two
towns we’re going to stay in are pretty uncomfortable. It’s either a little
hard to find food and lodgings are a bit unpleasant. However the roads are
terrific. We realize that we haven’t taken any breaks until arriving to
Pongsavan and only climbed for a week. As we have a look at the calendar, we
don’t have a hurry to go back to Thailand. So Pongsavan becomes our stopover. This
town is in the middle of a plateau and it’s quite flat. Just because, it’s one
of the most bombed places. It’s possible to see different kinds of bombs
everywhere around this town, besides, the “Plain of Jar” historic
parks which had become the symbol of this region are in here. It’s possible to
find delicious food here. However they commonly use spoons here to eat and they
use casted spoons which are made of aluminium.

 

Generally they use shorter and deeper
spoons in Asia. These spoons have a quite more different appearance and we
encounter these just in this town. The secret of these spoons is as follows; in
this region which’s the most bombed one, junk dealing has become a job and they
make these spoons from the aluminium they obtain from the bombs. There are
several more interesting occasions here. Such different prey animals are sold
in the markets here that it’s not difficult to figure out that Laos people eats
nearly everything. Dog meat is being sold as well in some places. Even if it’s
a little more undercover, dog food is one of the liked food here. But food
culture has taken a form according to the conditions at all times. That’s why
it’s a lack of understanding to condemn them or to deprecate them because they
eat dog meat. Here the experiences during the war must have obliged people to
eat this kind of animals. For 9 years people had hidden in caves during the
days and had worked at the rice fields at nights. After the bombardment it’s
still not easy to find food for Laos people. Some villages had waited for their
fields to get cleaned of bombs for 4 years. And today, a small part of Laos is
secure. Which means it’s very difficult to grow major nutritions. As you
consider all this, you can see Laos from a much different perspective.

 

We arrive to Luang Prabang in 3 days
after there. It becomes a good resting place for us. I think this is the most
beautiful town of Laos. We wanted to go the Thailand, Nan border but the road
isn’t comfortable at all and there are lots of trucks. Instead of swallowing
dust for two days we decide to stay a few more days in the town and go to the
border by boat. That way we leave a month spent on the mountains in Laos
behind. Sometimes one week seems like a month to me in some countries. For
example the time we spent in Malaysia had seemed so long to me that I thought
it’d never end. However in countries like Laos and Thailand, you cannot figure
how a month passes by. I don’t ever recall getting bored on the roads around
here. Believe me if I’ll have to ride in Malaysia again, I’ll probably fall
asleep on the bike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laos – February 18, 2012

 

North Thailand – January 2, 2012

 

Malaysia KL – December 2, 2011

 

Indonesia-Sumatra – November 22, 2011

 

Kuala Lipis, Kuala Tahan, Jerantut, Temerloh, Bentong – October 30, 2011

 

Taiping, İpoh, Cameron Highlands – October 24, 2011

 

Malaysia, Alor Star,Yan, Sungai Pethani, George Town – October 19, 2011

 

Hat Yai, Pdang Besar – October 19, 2011

 

Trang-Phattalung – October 12, 2011

 

Thai Mueang-Phuket-Krabi – October 9, 2011

 

Ranong, a Little Break – October 3, 2011

 

Map Amarit, Cumphon, Kra Buri, Ranong – October 2, 2011

 

Petchburi-Hua Hin-Prachuap Khiri Khan – September 27, 2011

 

Our Cycling Journey Between Kanchanaburi – Chom Bung – September 23, 2011

 

Bangkok and Kanchanaburi – September 22, 2011

 

Greetings from Thailand – September 19, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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