DANIELLE MURDOCH TRIP. 14 january - 7 october 2008. 26900km!!! RUS - ENG
THAILAND - LAOS - CAMBODIA - VIETNAM - CAMBODIA - KOREA - RUSSIA - MONGOLIA - RUSSIA
Anyway this is today... ill tell
you about my crossing the boarder...
I'm stuck in northern Laos at
the moment Ive been here for three days. the town I'm in is call Phonsali.
I had some strange idea that i would like to see the most northern part of
Laos. Now I'm 140km short of it.... I'm finding it way to cold to continue.
its about 5 deg c during the day and about 2-3 overnight. This town in
just covered in clouds. It has been like this for three days. I was told,
the day before i arrived it was sunny and warm... well its not now.
i want to get out of here, because as you imagine there is nothing to do
and its fucken cold. I'm just looking at the weather report now. it seams
the whole country is a bit nippy.
So after that sudden ending of my last email, i think it might be time to fill you guys in on the last 2 weeks. So Phongsali was cold, wet and foggy. it was 4 deg c... can you believe that! i was cold, not just a wee bit - freezing. Ozzy must have softened me up.
The following day now with thermal underwear (purchase from the market) I leave Phongsali.... I'm sure your a nice town in the sunlight.
I leave in thick fog, during the night some drunken fool have played with my trip meter, so now i have to fill up with gas, to start it again. My bike doesn't want to start or keep going for that matter, every time i start it, it would go for a while, then putt out only after i have put on my three jackets and my helmet then my gloves..... then it cuts out.
I would then have to take all my clothes off to kick start it again. IF you haven't guessed my battery is flat. something is wrong with the charging of it so every night it falls flat... I don't think its a morning bike to be honest!
I get it started... and fill up with gas... i know from coming here i have 41km to the next guess house. That is my goal. for today. Then ill see how cold and wet i am when i get there.
That 41km is in thick fog... and 10km of it is on mud....But i made it, and as i got to this town below the fog... i instantly cheered up. I had a hot noodle soup and a Laos coffee with sweet milk. I then set my self another goal to the next village... i zoomed through it with my new found love of the fog free valley... That's where the road changes to dirt again. I came in to a village where the German was standing in the road waiting.... i pulled up and he explained to me that he stayed here the night, in the town hall. All the village people looked through the cracks in the walls to watch him get ready for bed. He had given up on the cycling and was waiting for the bus. He told me these roads are just too bad.... i said what these.... whats coming up is worse! That i think sealed his deal with the bus. I motored on to i got to the place i stayed at when i came through. It was lunch time... i didn't want to stay here the night. all i wanted was a hot shower... so i kept on going.
This is where the road got really tough, but my previous day training was great, because i was handling the mud like a dream. There where time where i could feel the bike slipping but i manage to gain control and keep it going. I had 10kms of pure mud... mud that just stuck your bike... your clothes... i was following a van down the hill. I'm pretty sure he spent most of the time sliding down the hill. I was expecting to help push him out. At the bottom of the mud slide, there was 15 trucks parked waiting for the mud to dry out. all the guys were standing around small fires keeping warm. I passed them knowing i was getting close to my hot shower.
After the turn off on to the main road heading into Undom Xai... i increased my speed knowing I'm going to be there soon.. i had been riding for 7hours now. stopping only for hot noddle soup... I suddenly realise that the road dropped a foot over 2mm..... i had now time to slow down so i just stood up leaned back and flew over it.... i think now i can try out for the crusty demons! i slowed down for the next one, not wanting to push my luck further.
I got to the guest house i stayed in before... I loved the look on there faces as i drove up... they ushered my bike inside, mud and all. I had a hot shower, my first in a week! Food was next on my mind... that's where i meet my English cyclist. We swapped stories.... i think hes now changed his plans!
I stayed another night in UdomXai, i wanted to sort my battery problem out and clean my bike. I brought a battery for $8. With my bikes face lift i was set to go.
I then had to sort out my bike paper work. I only had 15 days in Laos with my bike... My passport was allowing my 60 days. I knew from what Ive just done that i could be here for another month... easily! So i had to head to Vientiane in the next few days.... I got to Luang Probang. Guess who i saw there... Fran and Glen, friend from Thailand. I caught up with them, also hoping i will see Richie too... then he walked passed! Its funny how traveling is sometimes.
I agreed to meet Richie in Vang Vieng at 1pm the next day. On my way there i got another flat tire - it was an old one. and the patch rubbed off.... Then i saw some guys having coffee who were also traveling around on bikes, so i stopped to talk to them (it was now 1pm) I'm glad i stopped because it just happened to be a guy who lived in Cambodia, who offered me to stay at his house. What a find... he told me about some great rides to do.... I left with his number and great hopes of leaving my bike at his house when i go to Vietnam... a few kms down the road, i saw some more motor bikers... i stopped to chat... they took a photo of me and called me a tourist attraction!
I got into Vientiane... after another flat tire. this time i was in a town so i got them to fix it, and again it was the same old puncture... i brought a new tube. (Now i have no more problems) The following day i go to the friendship bridge to extend my bike paper work. it was easy and done in the matter of seconds. Just so you know my bike started with ease... off the battery, the first time in ages.
Ive ridden over 4000km now.
The following day i headed south, i stopped in a town called ++++ where i checked into a guest house, the guest house owner and I got along really well, he asked if i liked to dance, i said sure! then he asked if i like men..... now i know where that's going - didn't you say you had a daughter my age?? I went out comtemplating my new problem. While i was out i ran into a girl i had meet in Vientiane, so we walked around the village and had tea together. Just as she was leaving my guest house owner showed up, so i had a couple of beers with him. He then asked my if Ive tried the pink egg - no was my reply. half an hour later one cooked pink egg turned up in front of me, but it was not pink - it was black, where the white is on a normal egg, it was a clear brown resin colour... now what have i gotten my self into.... i grabbed my spoon and thought it was too late to back out. It tasted pretty strong, but nice. I could eat it again - i guess. but that night i had the craziest dreams, that were so real, so scary - i woke up sweating and feeling like i had been screaming. it took me ages to go back to sleep. In the morning i asked the owner is the pink egg was a snakes egg - the answer was yes. my next question was - is it poisons? - yes he replied... that figures! shit don't eat the pink egg before you go to bed. other wise by all means try it!
I'm back on the road heading for Kong Lor Cave which is a 7.5km long cave, i heard good things about this cave , plus the journey there is much more interesting that the main road south. I stayed in this tiny town for two nights, the following day i was to go out to the cave. That night i meet a French guy who was surprising his family in a tiny village on the way to the cave. His family were rock climbing out there. That night i meet a Spanish couple who were going out to the cave, so i joined them on the 'song thew' and the boat. The cave was amazing.... i think though, because it was so dark - I'm sure i fell asleep for a bit of the journey... the water levels were so low you had to get out and walk a few times in ankle deep water.
I was back on my bike the next day, just for 60km to another small town, i got a room in a guest house that had movies in English. so i had a day off... and watched TV... sad isn't it. but by god its was nice. there was nothing else to do in this town but to walk around the market, which i did twice. and i got my washing done.... yay for clean clothes.
I'm now going on a dusty road, that Ive heard big truck roar up and down. It was no more than usual so i thought it was a great trip. When i got to Thatek, other traveler who do it on scooter had a horrible time....i guess they are not use to it. I stayed in Thatek a couple of days, there were a few touristy things to do. so i went along to them - i now wished i hadn't, as they looked like it was just staged for us stupid falangs. by the end of the day i was grumpy about it. time to get out the tourist hole - i think.
So i headed to a nice town called Savanaket. this town had beautiful french colonial architecture. I feel in love with this town. There was nothing to do... but it was nice relaxing and most falangs skipped this town. I was sad to leave, but i was planning on a great adventure through the centre of Laos. I wasn't sure if i could do it, as the roads may no longer be there. On my way to Xepon, i stopped for lunch in a small town close by, i parked my bike and walked into a restaurant. when i looked around, there were 20 men and no woman, the only woman were the ones in the kitchen. i was then worried about what i had gotten my self into... sure enough, within a few minutes of sitting down a guy came over to me. I quickly pulled out my map and asked him if he new about route 23, and the bridge that's never been built after the war. He said it was not possible. so i asked him about the other way... again he said no. he then told me that if i cannot find a guest house in Xepon, then he was staying at so and so guest house, come there as he would like to walk with me around the village.... yay..... i thought i might have gotten away with out the blatant come on.. but no.
In xepon, i found a nice guest house. thankfully!! and went out to see the old bombed xepon 5km down the road. I then turned off and followed a path that was meant to go to a waterfall, but i never found it. i was just happy to get off paved roads and ride through something more interesting. The next day i headed to dong then to nong to look at the war stuff all around the place. I had to make the decision to go to salavan that way or to return to savanket. I thought i better play it safe and return....
Now back in Savanaket, i stay in a really neat guest house. with plans to head to paxse the next day early. when i got up to leave, my bike didn't want to start again... the guest house owner rang a big bike mechanic and and they towed me there.... this time it was my cheap battery i brought... i replaced it with on that had more power....not Chinese!! and i was away laughing... i haven't had a problem since. my bike is runny so much better.. its almost new. Paxse here i come.
I rode hard and fast.. as it was a straight and boring road. i stopped for some noddle soup on the side of the road... i was really surprised when they pulled out a digital camera and asked for a photo...
i got into Paxse and who should yell out to me - Richie... I shared a room with him and quickly planned a trip together up to the Plato.
We had a rough plan. waterfalls seam to be high on the agenda... i wont bore you with all the waterfall details. On our first night we meet up with a few people at the guest house, and had tea together, the beer lao flowed all night, then the lao lao... come out.. that when i suggested we try a pigs ear... everyone one was keen- surprising - it was quite nice. only one girl didn't like it.
We decided to take the dirt road to another waterfall. we stopped for a drink of water by a quite bridge and and headed off again.... to find out self's back there an hour or two later but going in the opposite direction... we were lost.... we finally found the correct road and got to Tadlo waterfall. Richie was getting grumpy by this stage.... he was fucked off that we got lost... i didn't care... it was funny. I want ed to stay in Tadlo, we had meet some neat German guy... one was really cute. and i wanted to hang out with them and drink beer all afternoon. Richie want to get going to salavan which was 60km up the road. We left.... to find Salavan a hole with no good guesthouses free. so we got suck it a shitty guesthouse that had condom ads on the wall. i need my space from Richie because his mood was pissing me off.
Then next day, things were refreshed... we were ready for Taoy. We found a man that would tell you how to get there, in fact he showed us the turn off..
we filled up with gas and plowed through our first river crossing... then up onto a beautiful dirt road. which quickly turned to shit. it took us 5hours to complete 80kms. most of that 80kms was tough going.. over boulders and dust holes.... i was laughing the whole way - i guess it was my reaction to the hard riding. i loved it. by the end of the day, my tummy was sore from laughing so much and we were dusty from head to toe... sweating dust is a better decryption. We turned up to Taoy to find an ozzy mine clearer employed by Chinese paper company.... we had a quick chat about his job before he left to get supplies, which was sad, i would have liked to talk to him longer.
So we were left in this tiny village, hungry, tired, dirty and in need of a beer lao. The bathroom in this place was more than i expected. there was a bucket and a big pool of cold water - but it was nice after the dusty day.
The following day we headed back to salavan early to bet the heat of the day. Again we turn up at a guest house dirty...
We head down to Attupetu, on the way we see some water falls - I'm over them but i humor Richie.
After one night i Attupetu we head to Paxse, this road was going to be hard. we didn't really know what to expect - our guest house owner said it was bumpy and dusty.
We set out early again. Got to the next town to get water and snacks. Richie's basket kept coming loose and almost falling off, so i suggested he get some glue and use it as lock tight... that's when he fucked up.... he glued all the screes first and then proceeded in trying to screw them in... by that time the glue has dried and it was no point... to further that distaster more he cross threaded the screws and it was more wobblier than ever. by this time he was so grumpy i was laughing at him... i guess that didn't help. but he then tied the basket up with some string. I let Richie go first - telling him that it was because hes a grumpy bum. We get to our first big river, where we have to take a boat across. We followed a the road around the corner and kept taking the bigger road over the smaller one.
Suddenly our road stopped. with no warning....we couldn't go around or over because there just was nothing. so we back tracked path back a few meters and followed that. it was a tiny track through the bush. We came to some people who i stopped and asked Paxse??
She called out to her friend, he came out of the bush and spoke perfect English. This is when he told us that this was the road to Paxsong. If you want to go to Paxse you need to turn left at the river....(so in other words bigger roads don't always mean the right road - maybe i do need GPS after all!) we back track 8kms.... and turn left. we followed the smaller road through bush and rice field we were finally on the right road. that day we came across may obstacles. five huge rivers that were as deep as my bikes engine... five little ones... and three deep puddles that covered half my engine... We traveled mostly in the jungle. The road was fantastic. We came across a logging truck that had broken its axle. logs were everywhere. we had to go through the jungle to get around the truck and its logs, while another logging truck heavily loaded up bashed it way on the other side. It was quite unreal. we arrived in Paxse drained, and muddy.... that's my life!
I didn't fall off once... i am surprised.
I'm now relaxing in the four thousand islands. I'm about to go to Cambodia.
i have to tell you as i rode down to the boat to get to this island i fell off in sand.. my first fall. All the lao guys were really
worried for me even though it wasn't hard or fast... I'm just happy now i can say i have fell off.
THAILAND - LAOS - CAMBODIA - VIETNAM - CAMBODIA - KOREA - RUSSIA - MONGOLIA - RUSSIA
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