On November 4th Fred the bike is embarking on a six month journey across Southeast Asia. Starting in Singapore, Fred plans to make his way up the west coast of Malaysia, across Thailand, Cambodia, up through Vietnam and into Laos. After that... who knows? Fred invites you to follow him through his adventure. Any advice from fellow travelers is always welcome.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nakhon Sawan-Lopburi

Total Distance:126.21km
Total Time:7h01m48s
Average Speed:17.9km/h
Maximum Speed:38.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:8848.46km

Sorry I've been so lazy about updating the blog lately. For a full update you might want to read the last few entries.
I awoke early this morning to get a good head start on the day. It wasn't nearly as far as yesterday, but I thought it was best to give myself some extra time. I was tired from the ride to Nakhon Sawan, and if the head winds persisted I knew it may take me a while to get to Lopburi. As it turns out the head winds did persist throughout the morning, but died down in the afternoon. It was nice when they finally stopped. I took the main highway again, so there's not much to tell you in terms of things I saw. No nature, no wildlife, nothing.
Lopburi is a quite little city. There are a few temples to see here. I've seen a lot of temples, but I'll still give them a gander. There is also I pack of monkey's that roam around the city. It's always amusing to sit and watch the mischievous little buggers. I can't see myself being here for too long before I head down to Ayuthaya. There are some things worth checking out, but not so much to keep me hanging around.
I'm almost back in Bangkok. I'm starting to really hate capital cities. You always intend to pass through quickly but end up stuck there for at least a week. The good thing is I should be rolling in just over the 9000km mark. Hurray for me!

Sukhothai-Nakhon Sawan

Total Distance:186.01km
Total Time:10h18m21s
Average Speed:18.0km/h
Maximum Speed:27.4km/h
Total Distance So Far:8722.25km

Sukhothai was great. It's sort of thought of as the Thai equivalent of Cambodia's Ankor Wat. Having seen both I can tell you it doesn't even come close to the vast ancient empire of Ankor Wat, but it was nice all the same. The ruins of the ancient city consist of a series of old temples. There are five separate sites, all consisting of at least a dozen temples, stupas and chedis. They are pretty far spread and it makes fora great day of easy cycling.
After spending a day seeing the sights I was, once again, on the road. This time I was headed to Lopburi. It's pretty far from Sukhothai. Over 300km, so I knew I would be making a stop on the way. I took the main highway. There really wasn't much of a choice. It went quickly, but traffic was dense. Constantly riding along side zooming cars can wear on you. The scenery... well, there wasn't really any to speak of. It was flat and dull, but as I previously stated I'm just happy to have a break from those hills of the north. There was a rather strong head wind. My least favorite thing in the world. It slowed me down quite a bit.
There are things I had almost forgotten about riding in Thailand. Some good, some bad. The good: There are gas stations everywhere where you can stop for a break. Each one is equipped with a coffee shop, 7/11, and a toilet. That's right, no more squatting in the bush for yours truly. I also missed the rain shelters. They are little benches along the side if the road with roofs where you can stop to get out of the rain or the unbearable heat. The bad: DOGS! The dogs are back in full force, trying to get a mouth full of cyclist meat. At least they keep you moving. There's also a fair amount of road kill. It can be pretty gross.
I stopped in Nakhon Sawan. It's a fairly big city, but aside from that I can't tell you much about it. The next stop is Lopburi. I should spend at least a couple of nights there. Then off to Ayuthaya and back to Bangkok.


Total Distance:37.80km
Total Time:2h01m58s
Average Speed:18.5km/h
Maximum Speed:28.0km
Total Distance So Far:8536.24km/h

Well, there isn't a lot to tell on this one. I left Sawankhalok relatively early and made it to Sukhothai in the mid-morning. It was nice. It gave me a chance to have a full day of rest, which I really needed. Sukhothai is a great little place. There's not much to the actual town, but the surrounding ruins of the ancient city are definitely a sight.
I am officially out of the mountains. While they provided for some interesting rides and intense challenges, I'm sort of happy to be back on flat land. True, there's not that much to see. The view can be down right boring, but it will be nice to get some good distance in.


Total Distance:184.98km
Total Time:10h24m53s
Average Speed:17.7km/h
Maximum Speed:58.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:8498.44km

Once again my Lonely Planet guide book has failed to live up to my expectations. This is not saying very much for Lonely Planet, as my expectations of them after nearly seven months of using their book are extremely low. Upon arriving in Lampang I checked into a guesthouse as per the suggestion of Lonely Planet. Usually I don't take their advice on such matters, but accommodations seemed few and far between. They description in the book was as follows, "sometimes you just need to pamper yourself, and there is no better place than the Riverside Guesthouse". It seemed although this would be a pretty safe bet. WRONG! The first night I was pretty tired and fell asleep as soon as putting my head on the pillow. All night I could feel something biting, but I just assumed I had a mosquito in the room. The next morning, when I woke up, I had an alarming discovery. Droppings from a small animal beside my bed (this is not what was biting me the previous evening, I'm getting to that). Normally I would have complained, but the people attending to the guesthouse spoke little to no English and making a complaint would have been pretty hard. I thought (or at least hoped) that it was from one of their cats. That perhaps it was in my room before I got there and, in my tired state, I had failed to notice it the day before. In retrospect, I think the culprit may have been a rat. The following evening I wasn't so tired. That's when I discovered what had been nipping at me the night before. BEDBUGS! I hate bedbugs, but I guess nobody exactly loves them. Except, perhaps, the writers of Lonely Planet. I can tolerate a lot of things, but bedbugs is not one of them. It shows laziness on the part of the owners. They can easily be prevented by spraying the room regularly with a can of bedbug spray that can be purchased at any 7/11. All night I could here a hissing noise coming from the bathroom. I knew instantly what it was. Not wanting to deal with it at that point, I got up and shut the bathroom door. Sure enough when I peeked inside the next morning, three of the biggest cockroaches I've ever seen. So, in conclusion, If you consider dealing with rats, bedbugs and cockroaches pampering yourself then, yes, the Riverside Guesthouse in Lampang is the perfect place for you.
That morning I headed for Sukhothai. I had gotten literally no sleep the night before, so I knew I wouldn't be able to make it the whole way. All things considered, I did not to shabby. I opted to take a secondary highway, which led me on the cusp of yet another National Park. It was absolutely stunning. There were a few steep slopes, but they were not very long. Overall it went pretty smooth. I made it to Sawankhalok, only 40km from Sukhothai and checked into the first hotel I saw. Thankfully this one was bedbug free and I was able to get a good nights sleep.
So, I guess I'm back on the long and gruelling days. I don't really mind. It gives me a certain sense of satisfaction to go so far in a day. Plus, there are some stops coming up that aren't that far spread, so I'll get a little bit of a break.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chiang Mai-Lampang

Total Distance:106.00km
Total Time:5h45m49s
Average Speed:18.4km/h
Maximum Speed:58.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:8313.46km

After struggling to make it only half way to Pai, I opted to take the bus back down to Chiang Mai. It seemed to be the logical choice. I'm a tough cookie, but not that tough. Pai is a great little mountain town. It's the ideal place for a burnt out cyclist to rest up for a couple of days. I pretty much spent my entire stay there swinging in a hammock, reading a book. I was great.
After a few days I headed back to Chiang Mai where I spent the night before continuing on my journey. The next stop was Lampang, just over 100km away. For the first 35km I took the secondary highway, which I figured would be a less busy and more scenic route. I was proven wrong. Traffic was quite dense and the entire way seemed like one long extension of Chiang Mai. It was a small highway, so the shoulder was almost nonexistent, making it rather difficult to dodge the traffic. Once hitting Lamphun, I made my way to the main highway. While it is pretty busy as well, there is at least a nice big shoulder to ride on. It's almost like having your own lane.
About 50km North of Lampang my journey took me along the border of yet another National Park. It made for a pleasant ride. Despite the traffic, being surrounded by rolling hills and dense forests has a tranquil effect. The terrain was great. There were no overly steep hills to speak of. The last little bit was a series of small rolling hills, which is my favorite type of terrain. I zoomed through it pretty quick and made it to Lampang without a hitch.
Lampang is a nice little city. Mildly touristy, but quiet. There are a few temples to look at (I am at this point getting kind of sick of temples). About 30km south of the city is an Elephant Conservation Center, where I took in an elephant show. It was pretty amusing watching the elephants perform there tricks. While I'm usually pretty opposed to supporting animals in captivity, this was a little bit different. The sanctuary is huge. The elephants have a vast amount of land to roam around on. On top of which, unlike a zoo, this is there natural habitat.
Tomorrow I hit the road again. I'm headed to Sukothai. According to my estimations, it is about 210km away. Although I'm not really sure. Ideally I'd like to make it in a day, but realistically it will take me two. That will pretty much conclude my visit to Northern Thailand. It's been a slice. After that, it's a long haul back down to Malaysia. I've already seen the majority of Southern Thailand, so I don't foresee too much stopping on my way down to the Malay peninsula. You never know though. I might give in to the temptation of the beaches of Southern Thailand along the way.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chiang Mai-Pai

Total Distance:65.59km riding/about 70km hitching
Total Time:4h28m34s
Average Speed:14.6km/h
Maximum Speed:50.5km/h
Total Distance So Far:8207.46km

Well, I attempted to make it to Pai on my bicycle despite all advisement's against it. As it turns out I should have taken the advice of those who, clearly, knew what they were talking about. I made it just over 65km, about half way. It wasn't that difficult. There were a few steep slopes that I had to push Fred up, but they didn't last that long. The hardest part was definitely the heat. At around 40 degrees, it was unbearable. After the heat stroke incident when leaving Laos, I've been a little worried about too much time in the sun. After 65km of riding in the Thai heat I decided to sit under a tree and reassess my plan to bike to Pai.
From what I had gathered from the the people I talked to, the first half of the ride was a gradual incline (which proved to be accurate so far), while the second half was all steep hills with little relief. My options were as follows... I could stop at the next hotel (there are plenty on the way to Pai) and attempt to carry on with Fred the next day, or I could try and hitch a ride on the back of a pickup truck sparing myself from what was sure to be an extremely hard day. I chose the latter.
Don't you judge me! Look, I've biked over 8000km through heat, traffic, mountains, and all sorts of other various hardships. So I took the easy way out for once. I think I was more than justified in doing so. So, until any of you ride a bike 8000km in a foreign land, I don't want to hear any flack about how I wussed out. A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.
The way to Pai was absolutely breathtaking. In a way I'm disappointed I wasn't able to ride he whole thing and really experience it. It starts out relatively flat and boring, but as you progress it becomes hillier and much more lush. Everyone who told me of the mystical magical feel of this area was completely right. Looking at the surrounding landscape it feels almost like being in a dream. To describe it in full would take an eternity.
Pai is a town based around outdoors activity and hippie-culture. My type of place on both accounts. It's quite and the people are friendly. I think I might just stick around for a couple of days. It seems like a good place to kick back, relax and forget about all the woes of life. not that my life really has any woes. I've been on vacation for almost seven months, so really my life has been pretty easy going. But, if I had any woes, this would be the place to forget them.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chiang Rai-Chiang Mai

Total Distance:191.50km
Total Time:10h32m52s
Average Speed:18.1km/h
Maximum Speed:61.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:8141.87km

While there isn't a whole lot to do in Chiang Rai, it is actually quite a pleasant little city. There is a few temples to check out. One in particular is the big white temple located to the south of the city. It's a little different than the usual Wats. A nice visit for those of you who might be a little "templed out". There is also a great night market, something I missed while being away fro Thailand. Other than that, Chiang Rai is just a peaceful little place where one can kick back and relax. I could have stayed longer, but I could here the sound of the road calling my name.
All the other cyclists I've met have done the trip from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai. I'm a little bit competitive, not to mention cocky, so I saw this as a challenge. I decided the night before departing Chiang Rai that I would attempt to do the ride in one day.
For those who told me they thought it impossible, you were wrong. It is more than possible to do in a day, though pretty gruelling work. The first part of the ride is really quite boring. There is nothing to look at aside from highway and traffic. The landscape is rather unspectacular. However once you hit Khun Chae National Park that all changes. Around you the trees start to become denser and more lush. The flat road begins to turn to rolling hills. The traffic remained fairly bad, but that is to be expected on the road ti Chiang Mai. In spite of it, the ride through the park was still a pretty peaceful one. There was only one big hill on the way here. in comparison to those I have been doing over the past couple of months it was nothing. a little steep, but not overly long. The worst thing about it was hitting in the mid afternoon. Around 2:00 is when the sun is at it's hottest, and doing a climb up a mountain during this time can be pretty unpleasant.
I arrived in Chiang Mai just as the sun was going down. it had been a while since I had done a long ride like that. It actually felt pretty good. Chiang Mai seems like a laid back place. So far, so good. I still haven't made my mind up about Pai. Thanks to all who have been sending me advice. Any additional information is always welcome.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Chiang Saen-Chiang Rai

Total Distance:61.97km
Total Time:2h50m03s
Average Speed:21.8km/h
Maximum Speed:31.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:7950.37km

Chiang Saen is a quiet sedate little town. It is dotted with temples and ruins to check out, and sitting along the Mekong watching the boats go buy is a great way to spend the evenings. It's the perfect place to rest up. However one day is more than enough to experience what it has to offer. By this morning I was ready to move on.
After a month and a half of enduring the physical hardships that accompanied the mountains of Laos, today's ride was just what the doctor ordered. I left Chiang Saen at 7:00 and arrived in Chiang Rai by 10:00. A big change from the all day trips I've been doing. The traffic was also a big change. In Laos there was hardly any. I haven't had to put up with zooming by cars and motorbikes since I left Vietnam. Highway 1 is a busy one, but the plus side is it's beautifully paved and flat. Still, for anyone heading this way, I might suggest taking the alternate route. The traffic is supposedly a lot lighter and the scenery much nicer. I only opted for the main highway to have a day away from any hills. Lazy, I know, but I've done my fair share so I think I deserve a break.
Like I said the trip was a short one, so there's not really a lot to tell. Maybe my next trip will be one of a little more interest. I still haven't decided on if I'm going to bike up to Pai or not, but I'm leaning towards yes.
Anyway, they are playing Celine Dion in the Internet Cafe were I am currently sitting, which I just can't handle, so I'm going to have to cut this one short.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Huay Xai/Chiang Khong-Chiang Saen

Total Distance:70.26km
Total Time:4h16m35s
Average Speed:16.5km/h
Maximum Speed:64.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:7888.40km

The entire last day spent biking I was so close to Thailand I could taste it. I could taste the papaya salad. I could taste the barbecued meat on a stick. I could taste the Pad Thai. I could taste those ice cold 7/11 slurpees. Imagine my disappointment when I arrived in Thailand with such severe sun stroke I was rendered unable to get out of bed, let alone eat. At least it wasn't a huge shock. I saw it coming a mile away. After nine hours spent wasting away in the sun, sun stroke is inevitable.
After taking the short boat ride across the Mekong from Laos to Thailand I checked into a guesthouse and got some sleep. A lot of sleep. A good 15 hours worth of sleep. Suffering from sun stroke and dehydration is never fun, but it sort of goes hand in hand with this means of travel.
The next day I set off for Chiang Saen. It was a great ride. I was still a little weak from the day before, but the flat road running parallel to the Mekong river proved to be not very challenging. Finally, I got a break. I'd almost forgotten how much I like biking in Thailand. Laos was great, don't get me wrong. It's just that Thailand has a few more comforts of home. For example, cold drinks, roads that don't have large sections missing in them, and gas stations where you can use the toilet. I guess sometimes you have to be deprived of such things for a while before you can really appreciate them.
Chiang Saen is a nice little town. It's sort of the gateway to the golden triangle, but not technically part of the golden triangle. So, it sees it's fair share of tourists, but they're not swarming all over the place. It's quite and quaint. There are some pretty cool temples and ancient ruins to check out. A nice place to rest for a day.
I had planned to make my way to Pai before hitting Chaing Mai. After talking to some people and finding out the route there consists of some of the steepest hills in SE Asia, I'm reconsidering. Reconsidering, but haven't reconsidered. Being that I don't learn from my own mistakes I'll probably still attempt to do it. If anyone out there has any advice on the matter, please email it to me.

Vieng Phouka-Huay Xai

Total Distance:122.12km
Total Time:8h43m01s
Average Speed:14.0km/h
Maximum Speed:60.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:7817.14

I thought it would be a tough ride to Huay Xai, and I was far from mistaken. While the day before provided with some relief from the monstrous hills, the same could not be said here. It was back to big mountains and long inclines. The day was incredibly hot. Perhaps one of the hottest I've experienced so far, making it all the more difficult. As I said previously though, it's not like I had much choice in the matter. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. In this case the girl's gotta bike 120km through the mountains in the blistering heat.
It started off not too bad. However as the day went on the hills became longer and steeper, and the sun became hotter and less forgiving. There wasn't much time for breaks, although I managed to squeeze in a couple. Before leaving Vieng Phouka I tried t gauge how much water I would need. I guess I must have underestimated because at around 2:00, the hottest part of the day, I ran out. The worst part was I was midway a rather long climb and I knew it would be a while before I found a place to buy some more.
I sat at the side of the mountain, dripping with sweat and a little broken-spirited. It was starting to look like I might not make it. Feeling I was left with no other option, I attempted to hitch a ride. My attempts, however, were unsuccessful. The only vehicles passing were semi trucks with full loads. One truck driver took pity on me. His arm stretched out of his window as he drove by and in his hand was a 1L bottle of water. I guess I must have looked pretty bad in order for him to tell that I needed water just from glancing at me.
It was exactly what I needed, and after dehydrating I started to feel a little better. Well enough to push through the rest of the way. I ended up making it to Huay Xai, but barely. As I arrived the sun was just starting to set.

Louang Namtha-Vieng Phouka

Total Distance:62.21km
Total Time:4h05m23s
Average Speed:15.2km/h
Maximum Speed:53.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:7695.02km

After a couple of days spent in Louang Namtha grieving over the loss of my wallet, I decided to cut my losses and move on. After all, there's no use crying over spilt milk. Louang Namtha did provide for some good Rn'R, but after seeing the waterfall, the temple and the golden stupa, there wasn't much left to do. It was time to start making my way back to Thailand. The journey to the Thai border from Louang Namtha is just over 180km. Unfortunately, the positioning of guesthouses does not break up the trip very nicely. The first and, to the best of my knowledge, only guesthouse along the way is in Vieng Phouka, an easy 60km away. However this leaves another 120km jaunt through the mountains until reaching the border. It's a long way, but there's not a lot that can be done about it.
The ride to Vieng Phouka was a nice one. The road there leads you through Nam Ha National Protected area. There's nothing nicer than a morning ride through one of the more pristine parts of Laos. The road was nicely paved and relatively flat to boot. Always an added bonus. I stopped for a light lunch I had brought with me in Nam Ha to enjoy what would be one of my last days in Laos. It was a nice way to end a nice visit.
On a trip trip that has seen it's fair share of one horse towns, Vieng Phouka was no exception. To my surprise, there was actually two other travellers there. They had taken the bus up from Louang Namtha in order to do some trekking in the area. I guess the tourist office was just as surprised as I was. They seemed completely unprepared for visitors. The young couple seemed disappointed to find out they would have to wait for more people to join the group before they could go out on a trek. The likelihood of this happening was pretty slim. They ended up staying the night and heading back to Louang Namtha the next morning.
I knew the next day would be a hard one, so I decided to get a good nights sleep. God knows I was going to need it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oudom Xai-Louang Namtha

Total Distance:130.20km
Total Time:8h05m56s
Average Speed:16.0km/h
Maximum Speed:50.5km/h
Total Distance So Far:7632.81km

I opted to spend a day in Oudom Xai resting up a little from the previous two days biking. You would think, being the capital of Oudom Xai province, the city would have had something to offer in the way of sightseeing. However, much to my disappointment, it did not. Looking back I wish I had continued on instead of hanging around. It was one of the most boring days I've had in a while. I spent the majority of it sleeping.
I was a little worried about the trip to Louang Namtha. Mostly because I was unsure that I would be able to make it in a day. The trip is about 119km, which is a long haul when biking through the mountains. I encountered a fellow cyclist in Oudom Xai who added to my worries. He told me the ride was very difficult, impossible to do in a day. He also said the road was so bad I would have to get off my bike and push for stretches that lasted up to 10km. This was far from what I wanted to hear.
I decided to get an early start, leaving Oudom Xai at about 6:30, and hope for the best. As it turns out it was what I consider to be a rather easy ride. The road was quite bad in parts, but at no point did I have to get off and push. It made me loose a little respect for the cyclist I met the day prior. I'm on a road bike, and he was on a mountain bike. The rough terrain should have been loads easier for him. The hills were really not to bad, at least in comparison to what I have been cycling. There is on e large incline which, of course, is followed by one large decline. Both of which are rather soft slopes and not too difficult to climb. The rest of the way was a series of rolling hills. It's my favorite kind of ride, and I actually blew through it rather quick.
Just before reaching Louang Namtha I stopped at a little road side shack for a drink. I had gotten a little too much sun, as the day was a particularly hot one. Absentmindedly, I left my wallet sitting on the table when I took off. I noticed rather quickly what I had done and pedalled back there as fast as I could. When I returned the wallet was gone. There was only one other guy there, so I knew he must have taken it. He was also on a bike, a rickety old Lao bike I might add, so I figured I might be able to chase him down. The lady who owned the shop pointed me in the direction he went and I was in hot pursuit. I was unsuccessful in my hunt. The man and my wallet were long gone. Luckily I keep my passport and Visa card separate. However my bank card and travellers cheques, along with a great deal of cash were in there.
So, in the month and a half I've been here I've encountered one bad Laos person. Hey, those aren't bad odds. Plus it was due to my own absentmindedness. Getting a new bank card is going to be a real pain though. Live and learn!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pak mong-Oudom Xai

Total Distance:83.54km
Total Time:7h00m00s
Average Speed:11.9km/h
Maximum Speed:43.5km/h
Total distance So Far:7502.61km

Compared to today, yesterdays ride was a breeze. I'm back in the mountains. The gigantic, thigh burning mountains. It wasn't that bad. I like to exaggerate. My only real complaint is the condition of the road. There were quite a few potholes and sandy patches. It's not too bad when you are going up, but can prove rather frustrating on the way down. Constantly having to slow down to ensure you don't hit a bump and fall makes it almost impossible to catch a good amount of speed.
I made it to Oudom Xai, and man am I sore. I'm still a little out of shape after those three weeks I sat around waiting to get Fred repaired. Slowly I feel myself getting stronger. Hopefully I'll be good to go by the time I hit Thailand. From what I hear the mountains there are a lot steeper than these ones.
I'm going to give myself a day to rest in Oudom Xai. After that I'm off again, however I may stop again in Louang Namtha.

Louangprabang-Pak Mong

Total Distance:1113.46km
Total time:6h51m41s
Average Speed:16.5km/h
Maximum Speed:57.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:7419.07km

So, you are probably all wondering why every time I write about Louangprbang I spell it differently. Apart from the fact that my spelling skills leave something to be desired, there is no exact translation between Laos and English. Every time I pass a sign for Louangprabang it is spelt differently. However you spell it, my last visit there was a good one. There were a couple of things that, with the excitement of Pii Mai, I was unable to check out the last time I was there. Louangprabang is a great city. Very relaxed. the perfect place to spend a couple of days before heading back out into the mountains.
Pak Mong is only 27km from where Fred broke down and we ended up on the bus. I was glad to get there. Having retraced the path of the bus ride, I can now say I actually rode the whole route without cheating. I don't want to be one of those cyclists who tells people they are riding across SE Asia when, in fact, they are busing it most of the way. The ride was a good one. A surprisingly easy one. The road between Louangprabang and Pak Mong follows the Nam Ou river, meaning it runs in a valley making it a whole lot less hilly than what I've been used to. There are hills, but they are small and rolling. It was great to actually average 16km/h. It's been a little frustrating after pulling 200km days at 20km/h, coming to Laos and only being able to make it 80km in a day and at a snails pace.
Pak Mong had little to offer, but a girl's gotta stay somewhere. It is sort of a hub town. People generally only stop there to transfer buses to either Louangprabang or Oudom Xai. However there was a place to eat and a place to sleep, so I was happy.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Total Distance:81.28km
Total Time:5h08m31s
Average Speed:15.8km/h
Maximum Speed:56.0km/h
Total Distance So Far:7305.61km

I awoke in the morning smelling sort of like a horses ass, having been so afraid to touch anything in the guesthouse I was staying at that I neglected to take a shower. It had it's upside though. Smelling the ripeness of your own stench all day certainly is motivation to get to a shower as quickly as humanly possible. The greasiness of my skin also provided me with a layer of protection against the sun.
Today was a hot one. A really, really hot one. An "oh my God, I'm going to die from exposure to the sun on some mountain in the middle of Laos" hot one. The only saving grace was the terrain today. Yes, after the cruel and unusual uphill punishment of yesterday, Laos redeemed itself by giving me a couple of really nice downhill slopes today. The was still a fair amount of uphill too, but going down lasted a lot longer than going up. It was great. I don't think I could have handled another day of never ending climbing.
I'm back in Loungprabang. I've spent so much time here it feels almost like a second home. Things are certainly different from the last time I was here. My previous visit was during Pii Mai. One could not step foot outside their guesthouse without being soaked with water. Within seconds you would have a Beer Lao in hand (this is the beer brewed in Laos, which is mighty tasty stuff) and would have relieved about a dozen shots of Lao Lao (this is Lao moonshine, which is not very tasty stuff) Now the streets are quite and relaxed. There is a much more mellow vibe. After the chaos that was Vang Vieng, I must say I'm enjoying this change of atmosphere.

20km North of Kasi-Kiewkacham

Total Distance:76.15km
Total Time:7h42m46s
Average Speed:9.8km/h
Maximum Speed:52.5km/h
Total Distance So Far:7224.33km

UP, UP, UP! That is the story of today. Nearly the entire day was spent climbing. There were a couple of downhills, but they were more teasers than anything else. To be honest I felt a little ripped off. When I climb up a mountain for 20km, I like to be rewarded with a 20km downhill afterwards. This was not the case today. While there were a couple of downslopes, they were only about 5km long. All I can say is, the majority of tomorrow better be downhill. I want what is rightfully mine!
Difficult terrain aside, I still enjoyed the day. Once you hit the top of a mountain and look gown at the valley below, seeing for miles and miles, you can't help but smile. I took come pictures, but photographs don't do it justice. Neither two dimensional figures nor words can describe how truly beautiful this place is. Every ounce of pain; everyday spent riding in either scorching heat or poring rain; all of it is worth it. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I still hadn't decided on what route I should take. On one hand, Phonsavan was pretty far out of the way. Plus I wasn't exactly sure that I would be able to make it to the Thai border before my visa ran out if I went. Plus, I've talked to a few people who were pretty disappointed in it. On the other hand, I wanted to go. My heart was saying yes, but my head was saying no. In the end I let fate decide. I pulled up to where the road forks. Left, Loungprabang, right, Phonsavan. I flipped a coin, heads for Loungprabang, tails for Phonsavan. It landed on heads, so it looked like I was on my way to Loungprabang. After giving it some thought, I think it was probably the right choice anyway.
While Laos is a remarkable picture of beauty, the same can not be said for the guesthouse I stayed at. It was slightly overpriced for what I got. A tiny little room, which looked although it had not been cleaned since... well, ever. I'm pretty used to cockroaches. They kind of come with the territory. This place, however, had them in abundance. Needless to say, I was not impressed and did not get a very good nights sleep.

Vang Vieng-20km North of Kasi

Total Distance:79.64km
Total Time:5h37m02s
Average Speed:14.1km/h
Maximum Speed:55.0km
Total Distance So Far:7148.18km

After a couple of days spent hanging around Vang Vieng I decided it was time to leave. The surrounding area was absolutely stunning, however the social aspect of Vang Vieng was not exactly my speed. The streets are crowded with half naked drunken tourists. They're loud and rude. It's people like this that give western travellers a bad name. To each their own, I suppose.
I headed of in the morning. The first hour of the ride was still relatively flat. Then I was back in the mountains. I had almost forgotten just how difficult those hills could be. Overall it was a good ride, even though my leg muscles had one hell of a burn to them afterwards. The weather could have been better. It rained almost the whole day. In a way I prefer the rain to the near unbearable heat, so it wasn't so bad. The scenery, as usual, was beautiful. I can't believe my time in Laos is almost over. I'm really going to miss it.
I had heard from a couple of different cyclists about a guesthouse just north of Kasi. As it turns out the positioning of this stop couldn't be more perfect. Kasi is only about 59km from Loungprabang, which means stopping there would have left me making little progress for the day. This guesthouse, about 20km further down the highway, not only made the day a worthwhile one, but also eased the pain of the day that followed.
The guesthouse was actually one of the nicer ones I've had the pleasure of stopping at. It sits on top of a hill, with a nice view of the mountains. Across a little bamboo bridge is a small hot spring. It's a little more of a "warm spring" than a hot spring, but a nice treat after a days cycling none the less.
At this point I had still not quite made up my mind as to whether I was going to Phonsavan or back to Loungprabang. I figured I would sleep on it and let the wind take me where it would the next day.