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.

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!

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