Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Morning Commute

Days 175 and 176
Vang Vieng to Vientiane
Time: 8:57:00
Distance: 152 kilometers
Avg Speed: 10.16
Terrain: Rolling
Location: 18 0 17.6 N, 102 40 48.5 E

The crew was halved for the ride to Vientiane. The boys wanted one more day in party town Laos, while Leslie, Joanne, and I decided that enough was enough. We got on the road early from Vang Vieng and found ourselves passing through rolling hills and little fishing and agricultural villages. We were took lunch at a little bamboo hut overlooking some dry terraced rice paddies. Once the rainy season starts, those same paddies will be full of water and rice. We eventually rode out of the hills and into the river valley where we had 20 km of flat wandering before getting into the night’s accommodations in Phon Hong. I feel like the third wheel in this latest rendition of our group. Leslie and Joanne get along so well and have both found that they share a common interest in Patagonia brand clothing. My Patagonia passion is lacking so I usually find myself on the outside of their conversations. We found a three bed room at the only guesthouse in town and quickly got showered, napped and semi-cooled off before heading down for dinner. Having a Thai speaker in the group is huge since we are able to have great food and lodging that we wouldn’t be able to have on our own. For dinner we had a nice little custom number of stir fried morning glory with sticky rice. Joanne ordered the stir fry with lots of garlic and soy sauce. Very good grub. After dinner we attracted quite a crowd while playing cards. I guess we looked out of place in a typical Lao town. We shared our watermelon with some local kids and had lots of fun laughing with them.
Today we had a mostly flat 70 kilometers to the capital city of Laos. We started out early again and found ourselves riding through the morning commute. Most of our fellow commuters were on kids going to school and most of them were on bicycles themselves. It was pretty funny to ride up alongside of them and watch their reaction to three farang. Some played it cool, some were surprised, and a few, tried to keep up with us. One girl in particular, probably about age 10 and all of 60 lbs, pedaled hard after Chris up a hill. Riding on a singlespeed, she nearly caught him at the crest. I’m sure she had a great story to tell her friends when she arrived at school.
We rode in to Vientiane around noon. The sun was blazing hot, but we took our time finding a comfortable place to stay. We will be here for a few days so we wanted a good home base. The central area of the city is quite nice with a mix of french colonial buildings and gardens. Vientiane is similar to Luang Prabang, but just add an urban twist. They say it’s the most laidback capital city in the world. With only 300,000 people one could easily see why.
We found a nice spot near the water fountain (Nam Phu) and now we’re centrally located to a few bakeries. Ha – you know us and our pastries.
CK and LK

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