Friday, August 20, 2010

Is that a road?

After leaving the islands on Don Det, I continued onto the city of Pakse with another American that I had met on the island.  We had decided to rent motorcycles and do a loop of the Bolavan Plateau (southeastern Laos) and check out some of the national parks and waterfalls in the area.  We weren’t really sure what to expect because many roads are unpaved, and it was the height of the wet season so it was possible we would encounter impassable roads.  We picked up a map and a phrasebook from the hotel we rented our bikes from and set out for a weeklong bike trip.

Our first stop was at a bike repair shop to get my odometer fixed (essential for navigation because road signs are few and far between).  Luckily bike repairs are very inexpensive and easily accomplished, usually in less than ten minutes.   Throughout the week we had various repairs including my chain requiring tightening, my foot pedal falling off and two flat tires on Pat’s bike.

The first night we arrived in Paksong, which is well known for its central location in the coffee growing region of Laos.  The coffee in Laos is world-renowned; one of the varieties grown there is Arabica, which is considered the champagne of coffee.

There are dozens of waterfalls in the Bolavan Plateu and whenever we saw a sign for one we tried to find it.  We were pretty successfully and managed to find each one we looked for and even managed to find some elephants along the way.   I'll be posting an album soon!

The first few nights we were mostly staying in cities and towns, so we didn't have any problem finding cheap guesthouses.  As we entered more remote territory (heading towards the Vietnam border to the east) there were only villages and dirt roads.  The best night was definitely the one we spend with a Lao family in their home.  We had been driving for hours and the first village was asked either didn't have a place for us to sleep or didn't want us to stay there.  But when we arrived at this village, they ran to get the one person who spoke a little English and we worked out the sleeping arrangements.  It was pretty basic, we slept on bamboo mats in their open air home and bathed outside before dinner with the rest of the villagers.  At this point I had been eating sticky rice 3x per day everyday, but I never got sick of it!  Now that Im home I actually miss eating sticky rice.  Ill be back in Asia soon, so Im sure Ill be eating plenty of it :)

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