Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Laos Solo Ride Day 5: Vang Vieng - Vientiane, Laos


I had a good night stay in Vang Vieng.. I just wish I wouldn’t leave the small beautiful town with amazing sceneries..

The next journey was from Vang Vieng to Vientiane.. As Vang Vieng is located in Vientiane district, I knew Vientiane, the Capital of Laos, won’t be far away.. And based on the Laos Road Map, I can estimate the distance is around 160 km therefore it could take easily 1 and half hours of ride..

As I woke up early, I decided to leave Vang Vieng town during sunrise.. I wanted to catch the sunrise during riding, the view is surely gonna be awesome..

It was still dark when I checked-out from the guest house.. as I was warming up the bike, there was a litle café next to the guest house which has already opened its business.. They opened early because most of their customers are truck drivers.. I had toast bread and ice coffee for a light breakfast..
The sun was rising, simply beautiful.. Then I continued my journey to Vientiane.. The journey was very easy.. the road condition was great, smooth and no hills to be encountered at all.. Nice!

As I was approaching Vientiane, the distances between villages became closer and there were more vehicles and traffics can be seen..

I had grilled chicken with sticky rice for my brunch at one of the towns near Vientiane.. They also served grilled pork and beef..

I continued riding and without noticing any of the sign boards, I have entered the Vientiane city.. I only realized after I saw the signage of Vientiane International Airport.. I believe I reached Vientiane city before 10 o’clock in the morning..
Vientiane is the capital city of Laos and it is located along Mekong River, which is the border of Laos and Thailand.. Vientiane became the capital of Laos since 1563 due to the fears of Burmese invasion.. Previously, Luang Prabang was the capital of Laos..
During most of my rides, the first challenge of reaching in a big city would be to find an accommodation.. It would be challenging as I do not wanna stay too far from the city center and tourist attractions.. I always prefer the hotel to be within a walking distance with tourist attractions.. It is one of the reasons why I would prefer to start riding early so and I could reach my destinations early.. Therefore I could have plenty of time to find an accommodation place and have plenty of time for sight-seeing in the city..
Normally, I would find couple of tourists attractions in the city.. I would be a new stranger to the city.. I will ride between these places and try to find a hotel.. Also having many pubs and restaurants are the advantages.. It will be easier for me to find food and chill out with new friends at bars / pubs..
Sometimes, when I’ve found a great location of a hotel, the hotel could be fully occupied.. even most of the hotels would be already occupied..
But luckily, I’ve found a beautiful and new hotel within the tourist area.. It’s called AV Hotel.. The Patuxay Park, Royal Palaces, Mekong River and Restaurants are within walking distance to the AV Hotel..
Ironically, one of the hotel guests from China noticed me because we’ve met at Luang Prabang before and she was staying at the same hotel with me..
As usual, I would check-in, grab a shower, change to the usual pair of flip-flops & shorts and get ready to venture the city..

The first tourist attraction was the Patuxay Park.. Patuxay Park is located at the end of Lang Xang Avenue.. Patuxay means Victory Gate (Patu – Gate; Xay – Victory) and was built in 1957 to dedicate the Lao soldiers during the World War II.. It is also a symbol of independence war from France in 1949..
The Patuxay Park was crowded with tourists and I’ve met lots of tourists from Thailand and they were impressed of me for riding up from Boten to Vientiane, and will be back to Kuala Lumpur via Nong Khai..

Then I went to Laos Royal Palace and Temples which are surrounded the palace.. The temples are called Wat Si Muang and Haw Phra Kaew..

Within the Royal Place and Temples, the King Anouvong statue is located nearby.. The huge gigantic bronze statue is located along the Mekong River and faces Nong Khai, Thailand..

Then I went to find the Laos – Thailand Friendship Bridge.. The Friendship Bridge is approximately 20 km from the Vientiane city and it is where the Laos Immigration and Customs are located.. The friendship bridge connects Laos and Thailand at Nong Khai..
It was near 5.30 pm so I decided to find a good restaurant along the Mekong River to have a great sunset view..
As usual, when I travel near Mekong River, I would normally have a grilled carp fish which was freshly caught from the Mekong River.. They grilled the carp fish in coarse salt and served it with spicy thick dipping sauce and lemon.. The grilled carp fish can be eaten with sticky rice, along with Lao beer..

The sunset along the Mekong River was perfect and breathtaking.. i was lucky because it had been sunny all day long with clear skies.. Knowing I have travelled from Boten to Vientiane, I felt I had such a great journey as a solo rider, tackling the thousands of corners, rough road conditions, challenging terrains and beautiful sceneries.. 
The sunset dinner in Vientiane was the last sunset I witnessed from Laos country.. it was such an emotional moment for me..

Monday, October 22, 2012

Tony Roma's @ Pavilion


For appetizer, we've ordered Fried Mushrooms, served with Honey Mustard dipping sauce.. the portion is huge for an appetizer and always good for a group of 3-4 persons.. As usual, Tony Roma's would serve few loafs of fresh piping hot breads along with garlic butter..

I, personally, a huge fan of steaks.. Currently Tony Roma's are promoting its famous rack of lamb ribs, served with Loaded Mashed Potatoes and Veggies..
I ordered a slab of Lamb Ribs with perfectly prepared 2 beef filet medallions.. The filet medallions were cooked medium and they were juicy, tender and melted in my mouth, just like butter.. The lamb ribs were glazed with honey plum sauce and it went well with the taste of lamb meat.. although i usually have mint sauce with my lamb ribs but honey plum sauce tastes much better..
My dad had Shrimp Scampi Pasta.. the portion was huge and had tonnes of shrimps.. very generous.. Unfortunately, the linguine pasta dish was lacked of flavour.. supposedly it should have the taste tomato pesto, but it had bland taste..
While my mum ordered Shrimp & Salmon Piccata.. it was served with rice and veggies.. the Salmon fillet and Shrimps were topped with Lemon Caper sauce which was buttery and went well with the seafood..

Total bill was RM208.00 and it is perfect for those who love huge steak and seafood portions..


Saturday, October 20, 2012

I miss Koh Phangan!!


I just wanna share with you this amazing bird's eye video of Koh Phangan.. I always love Koh Phangan.. I shall be going there again...

Here's my link to my solo ride to Koh Phangan in September 2012.. click: KOH PHANGAN


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Laos Solo Ride Day 4: Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng

I’d like to share with you my solo riding adventure in Laos.. I did the solo ride for almost 1 and half years ago (February 2011) and it’s pretty hard to remember and write the ride report simultaneously.. Therefore it took me couple of days to compose the articles.. Also, i prefer to write instead of putting up photos like most of other blogs..

Luang Prabang is an ancient city of Laos and located North Central of Laos.. it is where the ancient King of Lao had stayed and the French recognized Luang Prabang as the Royal Residence of Laos..

Geographically, Luang Prabang is a meeting point of 2 rivers in Laos, Mekong River and Nam Khan River.. Formerly, Luang Prabang was known as Louangphrabang and it was the capital city of Laos.. Due to the fears of Burmese invasion in 1563, the capital city of Laos was moved to Vientiane..

After a day spent in Luang Prabang, I headed to the next town, Vang Vieng..
The distance from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng is only 190 km.. I left Luang Prabang around 9.00 in the morning after I had a good baguette of grilled chicken sandwich and strong cappuccino at a street café along the hotel I stayed in Luang Prabang..
As I was about to leave Luang Prabang, I managed to refuel my BMW bike at Shell station, which sells Ron 95 grade fuel.. Previously, I filled the bike with Ron 91 near Boten town..

As I studied the Laos Road Map a night before, I was prepared the ride to Vang Vieng as I would be riding through lots of limestone mountains with tough terrains but according to the locals, most of the road conditions of National Highway 13 are good..

I’ve climbed and ridden downhill many limestone mountains, which are known to be Belly of the Dragon.. I was lucky because the day when I rode to Vang Vieng, I managed to see 2 open markets in villages on top a the Belly of the Dragon hills.. These markets were interesting as they had colourful canopies and they were selling everything from grocery items, poultry, fish, veggies and clothings.. I stopped for awhile to have Laotian iced coffee at unique small coffee café stall..

At one of the peaks of the limetone mountains, I stopped at a guesthouse on top of a hill which it has an amazing view.. They served Laotian food and most drivers would stop here for a meal.. I managed to grab a lunch here.. Also met a woman cyclist from Holland who’s been cycling through Asia.. She started her journey from Kuala Lumpur and was on her way to Vietnam, via Thailand, Cambodia and Laos..

About 10 kilometers from the guesthouse, there is another peak view point.. The view is even more breathtaking!! I could get the whole view of the Belly of the Dragon from this view point.. Amazing!!
The most challenging parts of Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng route are the altitude and the climate change from being cold at hilly mountains and being humid at the bottom of the mountains.. If you do this for about 30 times in winding road, then you’ll get the idea how challenging it is..

Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng is located in the Central of Laos and the town is in Vientiane district.. Vang Vieng is a backpacker-oriented town and it has a beautiful sceneries as the town is surrounded with hills..

I arrived at Vang Vieng at almost 1.00 in the afternoon.. I managed to ride 190 km within 4 hours.. Viang Vieng is located along the main highway to Vientiane and along a river called Nam Song… most of the hotels, restaurants, bars and tour agencies are located along the main road and also the river.. Most bus drivers and van/ coch tours would stop at Vang Vieng from Luang Prabang instead of continuing driving to Vientiane city..
The Nam Song river runs through from the Belly of the Dragon mountains and to Vang Vieng..
Most of the hotels along the river were overcharged and already taken by travel agents.. But you can always find good quality hotels / guest houses along the main road..

I stayed at Boua Khao Guest House.. it is very clean and tidy with an ample private parking space.. It has an amazing view of the limestone hills, river and padi fields nearby.. the view is very chilling and relaxing..

After checked-in, as usual, I’d take shower and get changed to flip-flops and pair of shorts.. then headed for a lunch meal first..

I’ve found an almost crowded grill stall along the main road, not too far from the hotel I was staying.. They served grilled chicken, bacon and other types of meats.. The grilled, barbeque meat were served with sweet soy sauce as dipping sauce, mint leaves, salads, veggies and noodles.. The Laotian would roll the barbeque meat with salad leaves and dip them in the sweet soy sauce.. it was simple but delish!!

After lunch, I did the infamous inner tubing activity.. the tubing organizer would pick up its customers from the Vang Vieng town on a pick-up truck and brought us almost 8 km further North.. We then sat on the tubes and the chilly Nam Song river current led us reaching the town.. There are lot of bars being set up along the river, hence, I can hop at each bar and continue tubing with booze..

I spent the entire evening sitting drinking and people watching at café.. very relaxing.. 
I love Vang Vieng!!

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