Embracing Uncertainty on a Long Bike Tour

Embracing Uncertainty on a Long Bike Tour

A post by Adam (for a change)

There is nothing certain, but the uncertain

One of the main things I’ve learnt over the last 6 months is that a long bike tour is less about the physical process of getting on a bike and riding it every day. That’s the easy bit. A bike tour is more about becoming at one with uncertainty. Each morning when the sun decides to shine its light upon us with its glorious rays, the outcome of the day ahead is almost always uncertain. This can be both exciting and stressful. What we eat, the people we meet, the weather, the traffic, where will we sleep, how we will feel? All of this (and much, much more) is uncertain. Continue reading →

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LAOS – Part II

LAOS – Part II

Our second visit to Laos on our bicycle tour of SE Asia saw us spending 3 weeks in this gentle, laid back and welcoming country. Day by day, the temperature rose and rose, until we were cycling in 41 degrees heat on some days. We entered the country from Vietnam, at the Nam Phao border.

It was a 30km cycle from our hotel in the last proper town in Vietnam to the border crossing. We knew it would be a hilly 30km, with what turned out to be 1,336m elevation. It was a sincerely enjoyable 30km though, the road was remote and quiet, with only a few handfuls of lorries crossing to and from the border passing us on the way up. Towards the bottom of the hill, the views were stunning; lush, green, tropical vegetation surrounded us. A few houses dotted here and there and the final hotel before the border but there wasn’t much else.

Lovely views as we began the ascent to the border.

The mist and cloud curling over the hill tops.

As we began the climb, the cloud crept around us, until eventually we were immersed in it. With visibility less than 50m, we donned our luminous vests and switched on our bike lights. At times, I couldn’t even see Adam ahead of me.

The ascent was tough but not as tough as I thought it would be… maybe I’m just getting a bit stronger!

Near the top of the ascent, cycling towards Adam through the misty, gloomy clouds.

The rushing river was a constant, quiet in the background; I think the views would have been spectacular if the cloud hadn’t been so dense. We passed waterfalls and giant leaves. The rain which began a light drizzle came down more thickly, but as we were climbing we weren’t cold.

Reaching the top it was eerie and spooky, abandoned buildings loomed out of the mist like we were in a horror film. As we were about to approach the immigration building, we spotted a cafe. We decided to take the opportunity to have some lunch as we didn’t know what would be beyond the border. The food was a delicious farewell from Vietnam: rice and pork alongside a plate of grated veggies and a cold, green, fishy soup. We surprised ourselves with how hungry we were after the drizzly uphill climb. We also bought two Laos simcards with data so we were all set.

Very happy with our lunch stop before we crossed the border, as there was nowhere to eat on the other side.

Finding where to receive our exit stamp on the Vietnam side was confusing, it wasn’t clearly signposted at all. Eventually, we found the place and had our passports stamped. A quick downhill cycle through no mans land and we reached the Laos immigration. We were the only people going through so it was straightforward and quick. We filled in the visa form and entrance card, handed it in with our passport, passport photo and $37. Although the Laos visa costs $35, they also charge a $1 tourist fee and $1 fee for going through on a Sunday. Crisp notes accepted, we were through! Hello Laos!

We were freezing and so donned on our winter gloves, although we soon realised they were unnecessary, as Laos welcomed us with a glorious downhill that lasted for many kilometres. As we descended, the cloud dissolved and the sunshine came through. Happiness coursed through our veins and we felt overwhelmingly grateful to be back in beautiful Laos. The road from the border is beautiful as it follows a calm river. Camping possibilities looked promising, but we were really enjoying the cycling so wanted to continue.

The layers were soon removed!

Happy!

Beautiful views upon entering Laos.

I may have mentioned this in my previous blog posts from when we were in Laos the first time, but I love seeing so much ‘life’ in Laos. Adults, children and an array of animals populate the dusty, rural lanes and roads. I particularly loved seeing the little piggies again! Within minutes of entering Laos, we cycled past a pig farm where hundreds of the small black pigs were roaming freely and seemingly happily. Some had escaped onto the road but squealed and ran off as we approached, piglets in tow as we rounded the corner. Cycling through quiet Laotian villages, we were reunited with the friendly calls of “Sabaidee!” Our hearts glowed.

As the sun began to descend, it cast a gorgeous, burnt orange glow across everything. The route was flat and we cycled quickly, aided with a magnificent tail wind. On our first night on our return to Laos we camped in a Buddhist temple. They kindly gifted us 6 cartons of soya milk, 6 cans of coconut juice and a huge pack of mini cakes! We were extremely grateful. Despite a little noise from the active monks, I really enjoy camping at Buddhist temples. I always feel peaceful and safe. Often they even have a shower – well a huge bucket of rainwater with a bowl to pour the water over your head, but after a long, hot and sweaty day cycling in this beautiful SE Asian country, it’s the perfect end to a great day.

The sun setting behind the first Buddhist Temple camp in Laos.

Cooking up a storm on our first night camping since leaving China.

The next morning, after a delicious bowl of porridge with soya milk instead of the regular water, we left at a good time and proceeded to cycle into the small town of Lak Sao. Our second day cycling was slow and steady as we soaked up the calm and peaceful villages and Laos countryside. Our vistas included stretches of flat, sunburnt, browning crops, contrasted with the lush, green tropical forests of the national park. We agreed that Laos feels more ‘wild’ and untouched compared to Vietnam. Humble, quiet, friendly and relaxed.

I say ‘flat’ – there was a cheeky hill climb I forgot about!

Adam loves a cheeky hill climb.

A stop just off the side of the road for our ever-favourite dragon fruit.

Some villages had signs like this one: a stark reminder of the horrific recent history these local people and their families have endured.

We reached the curious spot of blue that we had seen on our maps, which turned out to be a network of strange, slightly eerie lakes. What made them eerie was countless thin, tall, naked, branchless trees that pin pricked the mossy, green-blue water. It was unlike anything we had seen before. We would later discover that the water came from the nearby dam. It was a special experience to cycle through this area and we were very glad to have chosen this route.

Thalang, our final destination for day two, is a small village, perhaps even a hamlet, next to the lake. With a seriously relaxed and laid back atmosphere, we checked into the Sabaidee Guesthouse and into our own wooden chalet/small bungalow. It was very basic but clean with a comfortable bed. Upon arrival and once checked in, two cold beers were ordered and we sat with two other travellers and spent the rest of the day soaking up the beautiful Laos sunshine with a cold beer and interesting, fun company. As this area is part of ‘The Loop’ of Thakhek – a 450km motorcycle journey that ventures into the mountains and farmlands on the outskirts of the city – many western tourists stay here and in the one other guesthouse down the road on their around the loop. It was nice to relax and enjoy some beers and, after 8 days cycling in a row from Hanoi, we decided to take a rest day the following day.

Enjoying socialising with ‘non-bicycling’ tourists.

I didn’t drink all of these… honestly!

Adam looking longingly at this guy’s long locks.

After a relaxing rest day next to the reservoir in Thalang, we began our first day cycling with Linda and Tim: pedallingtheplanet.wordpress.com. Linda Instagram @dreiarmumig and Tim Instagram @sightsfromtim are on a long distance cycle tour together, setting off from England, they had been on the road for 10 months, after cycling through Europe, Central Asia, China and now SE Asia. Through the power of social media, we realised that we would be cycling in the same area, so we decided to meet up and cycle together for a little while.

As we sat eating breakfast, it was a joyful sight to see them freewheeling down the slope towards us. They had camped about 5km away from where we had stayed. With more will-power to camp than us, over the coming days, we would come to be greatly inspired by them. Our first day cycling together was thoroughly enjoyable: their pace is definitely quicker than ours!! The first hour or so was a little shock and I had to get used to the quicker pace! However it wasn’t a bad thing – it made a refreshing change to push myself, feel out of breath (especially on the uphill) and feel the legs burn slightly!

Trying to keep up!! Photo Credit: Tim Walton

Keeping up with Tim and Linda!

They are a great couple, very down to earth, friendly, thoughtful, kind and obviously share an interest in bicycle touring! The views were great on our first day cycling together along the ‘1E’: we were surprised to cycle past more limestone karst hills.

Photo Credit: Tim Walton

The surrounding landscape was much drier however: yellow, parched crops struggling with the heat and dryness failed to yield. As we were pedalling at a much quicker pace (19km per hour rather than our usual 15km) we covered more distance in a shorter time. We even stopped 3 times and still reached 80km by 1630, with a late start. We stopped firstly at a visitors centre for the dam, which was quite interesting.

After a crazy-long descent, we crossed the dam and headed to the visitor’s centre. Photo Credit: Tim Walton

After following the river and flooded plains for a few hours, we stopped for lunch in a gloriously air-conditioned cafe, after which we stocked up on supplies from the big shop next door. Our final stop mid-afternoon was for a litre of gloriously refreshing sugar cane juice. Although we are mindful not to critically compare ourselves and our tour to Linda and Tim’s, as every tour is different and they’ve been cycling longer and much further than us (they’re approaching their 20,000km mark!), we can still learn a lot from them. We thoroughly enjoyed cycling with them.

On our first night with Linda and Tim we found a nice flat camping spot on some scrubland, hidden by bushes off the road. Stopping at 1630ish, we had time to relax, set up camp, cook and chat, retiring to our tents at around 2100.

Our first camp spot with Tim and Linda.

The next morning, Tim treated me to a cup of his strong Vietnamese coffee whilst the four of us enjoyed the cooler morning air whilst we ate breakfast. We were on the road for 0800 with only 20km to cycle to reach Thakhek, where we would enjoy a half rest day. We were there in no time cycling at Linda and Tim’s quicker pace. Again, the landscape was stunning; huge, towering, regal, limestone karst rocks towering towards the clear blue sky. The parched, dry, sunbleached ground cracked and crumbled under the blazing sun as we flew down the straight, well-sealed roads towards the town. Locals called out their joyous ‘Sabaidee!’ A young girl roughly but affectionately carried a puppy down the street as a line of piglets followed their fat Mumma Pig across the road in front of us. I love Laos.

Returning the joyous calls of, “Sabaidee!”

We arrived into Thakhek and set about finding cheap accommodation that could check us in early. The first place we tried, the Thakhek Travel Lodge, was over our price range so we pedalled further down the road and found a Guesthouse with rooms for 60,000 Kip – that’s just over £5. After a much-needed shower and a short rest, we cycled pannier free into the centre of Thakhek, as our Guesthouse was about 4km from the centre. Thakhek is a humble, small town with a very small ‘central’ area, boasting French colonial architecture alongside the Mekong river. We waved at Thailand and found a reasonably priced cafe next to the river for lunch. After a feast of BBQ chicken, sticky rice and papaya salad, we were thoroughly stuffed. A quick stop off at an underwhelming temple, we headed back to our Guesthouse to spend the rest of the day resting and catching up with that ever-present ‘admin’.

One of the many things that Linda and Tim taught us, is the wonder of bread, bananas and condensed milk for breakfast! The following day we left Thakhek: the route was an uncomplicated but hot and sweaty cycle. The road condition was good: fairly flat and the roads straight. We followed the more minor road closer to the Mekong, although we only caught glances of the mighty river here and there. Apparently, the road on the Thailand side is much closer. The views weren’t spectacular as the karst hills landscape had deserted us, and we were left to cycle through small, humble, poor Laos settlements, past more arid, parched landscapes apart from the odd area of vibrant green paddy fields or vegetation, somehow irrigated much better than the surrounding thirsty fields.

Catching the odd glimpse of the Mekong river.

We had to cross several bridges as we traversed over the Mekong and her tributaries. The bridges proved to be a challenging affair, as wooden slates covered the bridge in the same direction as our tires, however, there were often big cracks where the wood had waned away. It was a real test of ‘how straight can you cycle’ to avoid our tyres falling through the cracks. Adam did considerably well flying the drone whilst cycling along one bridge!

An example of the type of rickety, wooden bridges we had to cross. Photo Credit: Tim Walton

After 72km, we decided to start to find somewhere to camp. Although the road had been busy with Laotian dwellings for most of the day, luckily we were now cycling past small woodland areas where we thought we were more likely to find a camp spot. Adam had spotted a Buddhist temple on the map, so we decided to try our luck camping there. It was a quiet, seemingly deserted temple set in a sparse woodland area. We eventually found a monk or two and Adam politely asked if we could camp. Gratefully, they agreed and consequently, a young boy monk swept an area of the floor and put down long red mats for us. We had a peaceful evening in the temple, relaxing, cooking dinner and getting an early night.

The young monk kindly sweeping the floor for us.

We set our tents up on the red mats the monk kindly placed on the floor for us. Photo Credit: Tim Walton

Our camp cooking station. Photo Credit: Tim Walton

Noodles for dinner… as always! Photo Credit: Tim Walton

We awoke early to the sound of an orchestra of chickens. We left the temple at 0745, not before receiving a bag of kind gifts from the boy monk: soy drinks, crackers, sachets of wheat drink and Ovaltine as well as bananas. So kind.

I think the young monk had come from the local village, collecting offerings from the locals.

Preparing to leave our first temple camp with Linda and Tim. Photo Credit: Tim Walton

A demanding morning awaited us as our route took us along a dirt path that was very rocky and gravelly. We ended up spending much of it out of the seat, as it was turbulent with uneven ground, mounds and deep sand. The pace was slow going and definitely a challenge, but exciting in a way and made a change to the straight tarmacked road. We cycled through small rural settlements, through a shady woodland and more parched fields containing cows and goats.

Linda and Tim grizzling it up the dusty route.

Some areas were so thick with soft sand we had to push our bikes. Photo Credit: Tim Walton

Eventually, we came out onto the main road which was tarmacked, providing a nice relief. Despite the slow going, we reached Savannakhet at about 1100. A consensus was reached that we would all like to head to the Indian restaurant Linda had marked on Maps.me for lunch, but as it was a bit early, we stopped in a cafe for an hour or so, enjoying some refreshing cold drinks and wifi after a few days without communication.

The Indian was very tasty and not too expensive. It was a highlight of the day! Our afternoon was straightforward along an almost boring stretch of road. We found somewhere to camp at around 1700: a small woodland area a little way from the road. It had been burnt fairly recently, so some of the ground was still black with soot and even still smoking in places. We found two suitable patches though and made our camp for the night.

Our evening turned out to be an eventful one, however! After settling into our tent and enjoying a few hours of sleep, I was in a deep slumber when I heard feet crunching the dried leaves near our tent. Waking up instantly, I stayed still and tried to listen to work out who was there. Adam heard it too and sat up. He looked out of the tent (as we didn’t have the fly sheet on) and unzipping his side, stuck his head out for a better look. He realised it was Linda and Tim, watching the log that had been smoking earlier which was now a constant, low but very prominent orange flame. I could see it from inside our tent. As the log was so thick and the fire so deeply embedded, although it was not aflame when we set up our camp, it had relit whilst we were asleep. Miraculously, Tim had for some reason woken up and spotted the flames. Thank goodness.

Linda, Tim and Adam piled dried mud over the flames in an attempt to extinguish them. They weren’t too high, but aflame enough for me to see the orange licks from the tent, and as the forest was so dry, they could have very easily lit surrounding dried leaves and grass. The dried mud worked, as did Adam and Tim peeing on it! We all retired to our respective tents, but mindful to keep an eye every hour or so on the log to ensure it didn’t set the wood on fire!

We woke to the sound of nearby chickens, as usual, and luckily we had survived the night. After a disappointing breakfast of eggs which tasted surprisingly horrible and fishy, we were on the road early again at 0745. After our dramatic evening, the day’s cycle was straight forward, verging on boring. It is a notoriously boring stretch of road on this section, with a straight mostly flat stretch of hot road through parched yellow fields and shabby settlements. We were glad to be cycling with Tim and Linda, the extra company on these boring roads made it more enjoyable. We stopped at a small town for supplies. Tim and Linda are good at spotting markets on their phone maps, which are often great places to stock up on food for our camp dinners.

I think this was Linda’s expression when seeing possibly the largest Jack Fruit we’ve ever seen!

I’m always happy to stock up the bicycle pantry for our camp dinners.

On and on down the highway, although we did take a road that led us down a dusty, gravelly section for a few kms, but it wasn’t as bad as yesterday’s and is to be expected in Laos. It was particularly hot today, and it seemed I just couldn’t quench my thirst. We spotted huge, graceful water buffalo taking a refreshing swim in a small lake, a calf barely able to keep its little head above the water. I wished I could have joined them!

As we neared the end of the day, we had one of those awesome moments where another cycle tourist is headed in your direction! Yoann was French and had cycled from Sydney to where our paths crossed. He was a great guy, full of enthusiasm, questions and tips as we shared information. He is headed back to France. You can follow him on Instagram: @the_french_velo.

Bicycle tourists unite!

Our camp spot that evening was another kind Buddhist temple. They showed us a covered but outdoor area with tiled flooring where we could pitch our tents, which was perfect. Another relaxing evening at the temple where we were able to have a much needed ‘bucket-shower’. Whilst we cooked, we were visited by a few friendly locals who watched us in interest, attempting to talk to us which is always difficult without a common language. The monks were incredibly kind and even set up the area we cooked on with power and light, via a long stretch of wire from a nearby building. Who needs to pay for a hotel?! The kindness of the monks was gratefully received.

Tim showing one of the monks the photo he took of him.

I’m not sure if the monk took Tim’s hand, or if it was the other way around..!

Unfortunately, we experienced a very noisy night that night at the temple, but we were glad not to have any danger from burning logs! The temple’s gong was being rung from 0300 for what felt like hours. Chanting and music over the loudspeaker continued for hours too. The resident chickens going off it as well as the birds…! As I dipped in an out of sleep, it felt like a dreamy pandemonium.

Despite the noise, it was a special place to camp for the evening.

The next few days we continued along Highway 13 – the main road heading South towards Cambodia. Despite it being labelled a ‘Highway’, it is not a highway as you would expect: the traffic is very light. However, the road is notoriously boring, and the temperature was searingly hot, increasing each day. Luckily, we found it very easy to refill our water in Laos. There are many petrol stations – along the highway in particular – and almost every station has a free water dispenser. Staying hydrated was vital as we were all feeling dehydrated as the temperature cranked up.

Long stretches of blisteringly hot, flat, straight roads.

The four of us developed a cycling routine that really worked. We found ourselves rising with the sun, enjoying a camp-breakfast and coffee before getting a pre-8am start for the slightly cooler temperatures. We cycled hard all morning, often reaching 60km by lunchtime. For lunch, we always stopped off at a local cafe or restaurant on the roadside, which provided much needed and appreciated shade, often free cold water and a tasty meal to give our bodies energy for the afternoon. Sticky rice with papaya salad for the grand total of 20,000 kip; that’s only £1.80 each, or Laos noodle soup was usually our menu.

In the middle of our afternoon cycling, we usually had one more stop for delicious, icy cold sugarcane juice. Pure sugar cane pressed for the juice through a clever contraption, served over ice. Often we had already cycled for 5 hours in total that day, along the scorching, dry roads, so the refreshing juice was just what we needed and craved. It is sweaty work cycling in Laos at this time of year.

My initial reaction upon tasting sugarcane juice for the first time.

We would sometimes also treat ourselves to a milkshake, choosing carefully from the powders on offer.

The route along the highway south of Savannahket to 4,000 Islands was mostly boring and monotonous, although here and there we would spot a random vivid bright green field to contrast against the usual beige, withered fields. I loved seeing so many animals along the road: water buffalo, cows and their calves, ducks, chickens and chicks, goats and their tiny kids, pigs and piglets and (mostly) lazy dogs. Luckily, we only had one or two half-arsed dog chases.

Laos is fantastic for wild camp spots; each time we looked for a wild camp spot we found somewhere on our first attempt. One of my favourite spots was along a dirt track into a flat area of ground behind a wall. There were no houses or buildings for a good distance around us, and the wall provided a reprieve from any wind (as well as a great place to lean our bikes, as none of us has kickstands!). We would also pass several guesthouses a day, so that option was always there if needed. It’s a great feeling to keep our costs down by camping, and although it was hot in the tent it wasn’t unbearable. It was also lovely to cook our own food and chat with Tim and Linda as the sun goes down, then in the dark with just the light from the stars alongside a faint glow from the nearest village.

Who can pitch their tent the quickest?!

After our half rest day in Thakhek, we cycled for 5 days, camping for 4 nights to reach Champasak. We enjoyed a rest day there, at a quiet guesthouse overlooking the Mekong river. It was a peaceful and relaxing day. Champasak is a town on the Mekong River, in southern Laos. It’s known as a gateway to Wat Phu, an 11th-century Khmer temple complex with sandstone carvings of Hindu deities. We decided to give the temple a miss, however, favouring a relaxing day in the guesthouse instead.

The following day, we jumped on a narrow boat across the Mekong.

Our final wild camping spot with Tim and Linda. Quiet and secluded, but with lots of ants and a mysterious animal rustling in the bushes all night. Photo Credit: Tim Walton

From Champasak, we just had an easy two days cycling to reach 4,000 Islands. Also known as ‘Si Phan Don’ to the locals, 4,000 Islands is a narrow section of the country where it feels like there is more river than land. Si Phan Don is dotted with numerous islands, half of which are submerged when the Mekong River is in flood. At this Southern tip of Laos, the river widens to a 10 kilometre-wide labyrinth of shallow waterways and islands. We chose to head to the island of Don Dhet, as we had read that it was the cheapest island for accommodation with plenty of choices.

A small boat took us and the four bikes across from the mainland to Don Dhet for 20,000 kip (£1.77). Upon arriving on Don Dhet, the buildings around the point where the boats come in are more substantial, with several bars, restaurants and the more lively guesthouses and bungalows. As you walk away from that area, along the deep-sandy track (there are no cars on the islands as there are no roads) with the Mekong river to your left or right, depending on which direction you head around the island, the atmosphere becomes quieter and quieter. Almost all the buildings are wooden, many of them on stilts over the river. Many locals live here, either owning a restaurant with adjoining bungalows for rent, or living a humble, quiet life as a fisherman or possibly a guide for the many kayaking or boat tours available.

Having to balance the bicycles carefully!

We had booked accommodation for 1 night on ‘Booking.com’ – a wooden bungalow for 50,000 kip (£4.40) with shared bathroom. We all decided we wanted to stay on the island for a few rest days, but we had to move accommodation as the bungalows we stayed in were taken. It was very easy to find another place to stay, however, as there are numerous bungalows owned by locals, and our second choice had an ensuite for 50,000 so worked out much better in the long run.

Don Dhet has such a relaxed and peaceful vibe – well certainly the area we stayed in on the sunset side anyway. Sure there are a handful of bars and cafes that stay open late (but no later than 2300 generally!) playing music and selling cheap beers alongside ‘happy shakes’, but despite that, it’s the perfect place to unwind and laze away some rest days off the bikes, recovering from days of hard pedalling in the blazing heat.

These puppies liked to watch us eat at our local cafe!

Much time was spent in a reclining position, either in the hammock on our wooden bungalow balcony or in a quiet cafe overlooking the river. A small, white, soft sandy beach a few minutes walk from our bungalows was a peaceful and beautiful place to spend a few hours, swimming in the Mekong to cool down. The current is much stronger than you might anticipate, swimming upstream leads you nowhere!

I decided to take the opportunity to do a ‘touristy’ activity, and pay for a day kayaking tour. It was 200,000 kip, which is just under £18. I had such a brilliant day though so for me, it was worth every penny. After an included breakfast, coffee and briefing of the day’s schedule alongside a very short demonstration on how to kayak, we boarded the kayaks two by two and set off downstream. Adam, Linda and Tim didn’t fancy it, so I went alone, however I made friends with a lovely Swiss girl called Carmen who also went alone, so we kayaked together. We turned out to be a strong team!

Despite being under the allusion that the day would be a leisurely, pleasant kayak along the river, there were areas that required some careful navigation and precision, along the aforementioned narrow labyrinth of shallow waterways. As our local guide shouted back to us, “Keep left!”, Carmen and I spotted what looked like a whirlpool of fast-moving water where several waterways converged, amidst sharp rocks and a multitude of prickly bushes. Luckily, Carmen and I seemed to be on the same page as to which way we needed to paddle and managed to avoid the whirlpool, but did over-paddle so kayaked head first into a bush…! Fortunately, we didn’t capsize once for the whole day, which was pretty impressive as every other couple in our group did so!

It was interesting watching them attempt to put all the kayaks on top of this vehicle!

In total, we had three kayaking sessions, interspersed with a walking route to a beautiful waterfall, a boat ride to an area where we saw the Mekong river dolphins (which was amazing! A lifelong dream to see dolphins realised.) and enjoyed a tasty lunch, and a car ride to take us to the biggest waterfall in SE Asia: The Khone Falls and Pha Pheng Falls, which was truly magnificent. The sheer amount of water gushing down was absolutely staggering. A final kayak back to where we started ended what was a thoroughly enjoyable day.

I just took this on my phone – it’s difficult to capture the magnitude of these waterfalls.

Another beautiful waterfall we saw.

After three peaceful rest days on Don Dhet, Tim and Linda decided it was time for them to get back on the road, so we bade them a sad but fond farewell. After two weeks in their company, we feel like we’ve made two great friends, so we are sure to see them again in the future, perhaps sooner than we think – our paths may even cross in Cambodia or Thailand.

Adam and I decided to stay a few extra days, taking the opportunity to really relax, video edit and write in a place that not only is cheap but beautiful. Laos – I think you have made it to one of my favourite countries I have ever visited, for your beauty, warmth of your climate and people, food, animals and landscapes. I will be back! But for now, Cambodia is calling! 

Photo Credit: Tim Walton

 

Posted by Lucia in Laos, 0 comments
FUNDRAISING AND FUTURE PLANS ANNOUNCEMENT

FUNDRAISING AND FUTURE PLANS ANNOUNCEMENT

I left the British Army in 2018 after spending 8 years as an Infantry Officer. After leaving the military, I was eager to do something different to getting an office job. Rather than going straight back into employment, I took my savings and decided to travel the world by bicycle.

That is why I want to set myself a bigger and much more epic challenge that helps a community I feel passionately about.

My aim is to cycle from the top to the bottom of the Americas and raise £17,000 for Walking with the Wounded – a charity that supports wounded and vulnerable military veterans. Continue reading →

Posted by Adam in Cycling the Americas for the Wounded, 0 comments
Northern Vietnam towards the Laos Border

Northern Vietnam towards the Laos Border

Day 164: Van Phu to Duong Hue

19 Feb 2019

Another morning packing our panniers and getting onto the road at around 0900. As we left the hotel, we were surprised when we were charged 150,000 Dong, rather than the 180,000 Dong we were quoted yesterday. That makes our hotel room the grand cost of £5. Not too shabby. I slept long and hard, much needed as I acclimatise to the warmer weather.

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Posted by Lucia in Vietnam, 0 comments
Leaving Hanoi by bicycle

Leaving Hanoi by bicycle

Day 163: Hanoi to Van Phu

18 Feb 2019

Our afternoon cycling was one of the best we have experienced so far on our cycle tour. But first, we had to endure cycling out of Hanoi. As we left the hotel, we passed on some of the items we had decided to get rid of in an effort to alleviate our weight. The lady working at the reception was very grateful to receive some of our things.

Despite it being unsurprisingly busy as we left the city centre, we thoroughly enjoyed cycling out of the Old Quarter. Our route took us along some streets we hadn’t visited on foot, and I just loved seeing all of the amazingly colourful and vibrant flowers for sale. Not just the bright, multicoloured blooms in the shops, but also the blossoming plants sold by the Vietnamese women on scooters or bicycles, the back of their two-wheeled bike full to bursting with joyful, beautiful flowers.

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Posted by Lucia in Vietnam, 0 comments
Rest days in Hanoi

Rest days in Hanoi

Days 159 -162 (!): 4  greedy rest days in vibrant Hanoi

14 – 17 Feb 2019

Where to start?! Hanoi stole our hearts (and our stomachs!) so we decided to take 4 whole juicy days off in this amazing city. We rarely take that many days off in a row but thought that this place justifiably deserved it. As our hotel was situated in the Old Quarter, we were positioned perfectly to soak up the dynamic atmosphere. 

Continue reading →

Posted by Lucia in Vietnam, 0 comments

Filming Gear for a Bike Tour – 2019

In 2019, filming a bike tour is never been more popular and the kit and equipment needed to do it has never been more accessible. There are a number of cycle tourists making some amazing videos that inspire us to get out and spend more time on the road. One of the easiest observations to make is that every cycle tourist has a different setup. This post is going to go into detail about my current setup for my tour in 2019.  

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Posted by Adam in Preparing to Leave, 2 comments
The Road to Hanoi

The Road to Hanoi

Day 157: Đình Lập to Luc Nam

12 Feb 2019

I had set my alarm for 0545, much earlier than normal as we had said the previous evening we wanted to have an earlier start as we were planning to do a 100+km days cycle. As I switched off the alarm, I was surprised to hear loud happy hardcore music coming from the surrounding streets. Weird for that time of day! Thankfully we had slept through it. As usual, we didn’t rush; I made myself a coffee using the stove on the balcony outside and sipped it in bed whilst reading the news on my phone. Once we were packed and ready, we enjoyed the most delicious Vietnamese noodle soup in the hotel restaurant. The dish is known as Pho Ga. Rich, chicken broth with flat noodles, fresh strips of succulent chicken (and no bones! Hurrah!) and the dish is served with a bowl of salad leaves and herbs to share and add into your meal. We decided unanimously that this was the most delicious bowl of noodle soup I think we’ve had on the entire trip so far. Outstanding.

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Posted by Lucia in Vietnam, 0 comments
A day cycling in beautiful Northern Vietnam (and my fear of dogs resurfaces)

A day cycling in beautiful Northern Vietnam (and my fear of dogs resurfaces)

Day 156: Đầm Hà to Đình Lập

11 Feb 2019

As I lay in a deep slumber, Adam briskly opened the curtains wide, letting the morning rays seep into the room and drenching my eyelids. “Wakey wakey!” he called brightly. Taking no prisoners, he also switched on the light: it very clearly was time to get up! As we were leaving the hotel, Adam noticed the owner was wearing a Hull City jumper. As a staunch Hull City fan, Adam had to get a selfie with the man who had no idea why Adam was so jovial or who indeed Hull City actually are.

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Posted by Lucia in Vietnam, 1 comment
Entering Vietnam from China – The Return to SE Asia!

Entering Vietnam from China – The Return to SE Asia!

Day 155: Dong Xing (China) to Đầm Hà

10 Feb 2019

I type this, thoroughly tired but extremely happy after a successful first day in Vietnam! It has been a brilliant day… let me tell you all about it…

Although the alarm was set for 0600 and we knew we needed to be up and have an early start to cross the border into Vietnam, we still didn’t manically rush. I enjoyed my first Vietnamese coffee (albeit a 3 in 1 instant sachet we bought from the amazing night market at the border last night!) sat up in bed, awakening my mind and preparing myself for the day ahead.

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Posted by Lucia in Vietnam, 6 comments