From Siam Reap we head back towards Kompong Cham and along the Mekong to Kratie for a night,then up to Stung Treng and on to Veun Khan the Laos border.
Two little wooden huts represent the boarder crossing. The one on the side of the road is immigration where we get stamped out of Cambodia, the other set back in the shade of the trees is Customs, as we approach the customs officer gets himself out of a hammock and points sleepy eyed to a wooden table, he opens a old cake tin , picks out a few stamps, scribbles something on a piece of paper, stamps it and charges us US$ 5.- then drags himself back to the hammock.
On the Lao side same thing just that we have to wake the guy, at least he did not charge us fore it.
First stop in Lao is Khone Phapheng at the Mekong River Waterfalls.
Further on we cross the Mekong on tree longboats attached to each other by wooden boards to make a platform so we can get the bike on to it. We land on the island of Khong witch is part of the 4000 Islands in the Mekong.
Ferry across the Mekong
Fishermen on the Mekong
We make our way north along the river to Pakxe then turn up to the Bolovens Plateau to Pakkong its considerably cooler up here amongst the coffee plantations.
We end up at Tadlo Waterfalls and get a Bungalow for the night.
Christan and Andre from Germany are also staying at the guesthouse, the two are riding around Laos on a couple of 250cc, we had a great night.
Further north we turn east towards Khoun Ngeun the road starts to climb into the mountains taking us to a viewpoint overlooking the Limestone Forest
Down the other side of the mountain we enter the Kong Lor valley, a totally flat area surrounded by sheer cliffs of limestone.
at the end of the valley is the most amazing cave, 7.5km of the Nam Hinboun River makes its way trough the mountain. We enter the cave in a longboat, at times the dept of the water is not enough for us to drive trough so we all get out and drag the boat for a few meters, and on to the next rapid to repeat the exercise.
We emerge at the other end of the cave, a little village spreads itself along the riverfront, we stop for a break and some Rice Whisky.
We spent the night at a Bungalow by the River surrounded by a small Village.
Next stop Vientiane capital city of Laos.
Weill talking to Jules from Classic bike rentals about riding around northern Laos he informs us about the annual Elephant Festival in Xayaboury on the weekend, so rather then staying in the city we head up the no 13 Highway to Vang Vieng ( Laos Party town ) The next 200ks are awesome, bend after bend after bend not a straight bid of tarmac to be seen, and to make it more interesting they throw in a few pigs, dogs,chickens, kids,trucks cutting corners , potholes the size of swimming pools, cows and whatever else you can think of.
View over the mountains
At Xieng Ngeun we turn left onto a gravel road for the next 85ks. The traffic starts to pick up as there are a lot of people going our coming from the festival. The dust created by all the traffic is chocking us at time we cant see the road everything is the color of the road.
The Festival is a huge event with over 100 Elephants particapating in street parades, circus, Elephant of the year competition and demonstrations. The streets are lined with stalls and entertainment.
Posted by Mark Allenspach at February 18, 2009 06:58 AM GMT