Thursday, October 18, 2012

Laos Solo Ride Day 4: Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng


Heyya..
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!!

HooRahh!!
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