Wednesday, March 26, 2008

And Then There Were Three

Day: 180
Vientiane to Thapabat
Time: 5:12:21
Distance: 95.80 km
Avg Speed: 18.3 kph
Terrain: Flat
Location: 18˚ 23’ 00” N, 103˚ 11’ 0” E

We got out of dodge early this morning in an attempt to beat the heat. Leslie and I left our guest house a little after 6 am and swung by to pick up Hans. Smiling Hans, as we like to call him behind his back, is a Swiss super cyclist who started in Hong Kong in January. His plan is to tour around Southeast Asia for a little while and then ride home back to Switzerland. He figures to be on the road for the better part of a year unless he studies at a Buddhist monastery for 6 months. If that is case it could be longer.
The riding was busy this morning getting out of Vientiane. It seems that all the locals had the same plan as we did and were getting busy early to beat the heat. That is the usual case around here. As the clock nears 2 pm or 3 pm everyone is taking it easy in the shade and resting until the evening. On our way out of town we passed the local delivery tuk-tuks dropping off fresh baguettes to the street vendors and all the school kids heading off for the day’s lessons. Our landscape gradually changed from cityscape to farmland in a matter of 20 km or so. The crops centered around rice and the occasional plot of papaya trees. We came across plenty of water buffalo, goats and dogs hanging out on the side of the road and I only got anxious once when a big rig swerved into our lane to avoid a cow in the road. We stopped at 60 km for a mid-morning meal of noodle soup with beef and sausage in it. As long as the temperature outside isn’t blazing hot, I can eat soup for every meal. If the temperature is hot I just sit there and drip sweat into my soup. Sad, but true. We got on the road after our soup stop and found a wat and temple we had been looking for. It was nice to visit some places that are frequented more by locals than by tourists. The temple was unique in that outside the monks quarters there were two birds that had been trained to say sabaidee (hello in Lao). I sat with the bikes while Hans and Leslie climbed the steps to the temple overlooking the Mekong River and listened to these two birds go on and on. We rolled into our guesthouse for the night right as the afternoon heat was turning up. Our timing was perfect today because we can take our cold showers and wait out the heat inside under a fan. The cold shower is common down here, and having a shower head is a luxury. A lot of times it is simply a bucket with a cup to bathe with. It is amazing how little water you use when it is cold.
After a nice cold shower and a little nap we followed our bellies to the local day market around the corner. We found it quite easily and after stumbling around a little while got down to business. Before we could get to the fruit section Hans bought a kebab of beef, I bought little sesame balls with bean paste inside and Leslie took photos. I once again got all the attention I could stand from vendors and customers alike. I like to think it is my good looks, but I think it is the fact I am twice as tall as everybody there. We finally found the fruit section and got our bananas, oranges and watermelon. There were also fresh catfish (swimming around in a bowl), fresh chicken (tethered to a cow bone), several kinds of jungle birds (just laying there, not looking good at all), and squirrels (even worse looking than the jungle birds). Hans decided that he wanted some spring rolls that were being made. Our numbers are lacking so he ended up with four of them that he gladly shared. We grabbed a couple of freshly squeezed sugarcane drinks as well, and headed back to the guesthouse for a light snack before dinner.
Today is also our 6 month anniversary of being on the road. I am glad that we spent the day biking through some nice countryside rather that sight seeing in a city somewhere.

1 comment:

JennSean said...