Going back to the roots of humanity, we had a wash in the river with the sun just waking up. What a feeling.
The little bay outside the entry of the cave was one of those really dramatically pretty places. Undamaged so far by the relatively small number of tourists – but could easily became new Disneyland with Macdonald’s and Starbucks offering their goods.
We grouped ourselves with the Canadian and Swiss couples into two wooden long tails. Provided with safety jackets, we walked a short trail to be launched to a five man wooden canoe with shallow bottom (one engine man and one look-out). The return trip lasted three hours and it was absolutely unbelievable: crossing little waterfalls and getting out to watch the boat being pushed was a great adventure. Vast amount of great stalactites and stalagmites created wonderful sculptures. We had all seen some caves, but this one beats them all by far.
Packed and ready to go we had lunch on the roof terrace of the other’s hostel, and I have tried “Larp” (as recommended by the Canadians). It’s a chicken (or any other meat) dish usually served with sticky rice where you use your hands to eat it with - a nice experience touching, feeling rolling the sticky rice!
Stocked up on water, we set off into 38 degree heat with not much wind – we only had 40kms to do, but It was hard clicking kilometres. With good fortune, at the end of the route an ice-cream moped stopped to revive our dead bodies with coconut ice-creams. We cheated on the steep ridge which followed by hitching a lift with a group of electricians. One of them spoke some English and they refused of payment of any kind. Two local doughnuts each and a cold drink and we set off cycling south east again. Clocking another 20km the sun was dropping low down to the horizon so it was time to hitch again as we were nowhere near our intended destination. We got a lift from a water technician in a very fast Toyota 4x4 – air-conditioned luxury front seat for Teresa and pick-up section with bikes for Tadek! The town of Thakhek was bigger and noisier that any other place since the capital of Laos. We had a cycle around the recommended guest houses area, and on a little square near the Mekong, we met the Swiss couple again. We joined them for a sweet pancake , egg and condensed milk snack. Julie’s distant family were the Toblerone chocolate producers, but she doesn’t have any perks from the company these days!
Cycling along, we found a pleasing family owned guest house. We dumped the bags, express showered and went in to town for internet contact with the outside world.
Cycled 70km; hitched on the back of a pick-up 150km