It is with mixed emotions that we are leaving the mountains behind.  While the climbing has been challenging, the vistas and quiet roads have been spectacular. As we cycle along, we constantly hear “sabaideeeeeee” from the Laotian children as they scramble from their houses to greet us.  At times we feel like national heros with the welcome and thumbs up we receive! We have had some spectacular days lately, and have met other cyclists along the way:  Dee and Rog from Britain, and Bas from Holland.  Dee was hit by a drunk moto driver in northern Laos and spent 7 weeks recovering her leg in Luang Prabang.  She is well healed now, after some harrowing days spent in an iffy, rural clinic.  Her bike was totaled, but they were able to get another one sent over from England, and she is back on track now.  We have enjoyed some nice meals with them (and Bas), and it is great to spend time with other cyclists.

We cycled south from Luang Prabang down to Vientiane, the capitol of Laos. As we got closer to the city the traffic picked up, and since Route 13 is the only road heading north-south in Laos, it is where the trucks and buses are. We have also been dodging dogs, chickens, ducks, cows, water buffalo, motos, goats, tuk-tuks, children, you name it . We have decided to cross back to Thailand to cycle south on quieter roads, and re-enter Laos after about 45o miles along the Mekong River. First up though:  more pages in Judy’s passport at the U.S. Consulate this afternoon for the hefty price of $85.

Vientiane was settled by the French as a hub of Indochina, and the French influence is everywhere.  Crusty baguettes, shuttered villas and (our favorite) warm, flakey croissants in the morning!  It is nowhere near as charming as Luang Prabang, but it is a comfortable city to spend a few days in.

Yesterday we visited COPE, a museum dedicated to education about land mines.  We met an 18 year old boy who had lost both of his hands and his eyesight 3 years ago when he picked up an unexploded bomb.  Even though the locals are told that any metal found on the ground could be explosive, the children are very vulnerable.  The metal is used in so many ways in their houses, and the people are so poor, sometimes it is just too tempting.  Even today it is estimated that there could still be more than 80 million unexploded cluster bombs remaining in Laos after the Vietnam war.

Laos is changing fast, and sometimes we feel we are about 10 years too late.  It is a gem of a country and if you are interested in visiting it, we suggest you don’t wait too long.  Chinese industry is moving in, and the signs of it are everywhere.

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5 Responses to Sabaideeeeee!!!

  1. Kathy T says:

    Another lovely post! I love reading about your adventures and seeing your beautiful photos. The mountain scenery is exquisite! And right now, with snow up to the rafters here, the green and sun are a welcome sight!!!

    It’s so great you’ve met fellow trekkers on your way. Watch out for those moto drivers!

    Can’t wait to see the full slideshow when you both return!!

    xo Kathy

  2. Ruth Licht says:

    Your photos are absolutely breathtaking and the narrative brings me there. You HAVE to be published! I love riding in your sidecar with you two.

  3. mary kay mclane says:

    what beautiful sights and how interesting your trip sounds. Will you ever be able to return to the humdrum life of “mapselling” I am sure this will propel you to many more trips in the near future. Travel safely

  4. amy says:

    Happy to hear you guys are healthy and enjoying the ride! The photos are spectacular!
    Love and hugs to you both.
    Amy & Rog
    p.s. My brother Jim and his wife Dorothy are in Thailand right now. If you see them say “hi”.

  5. Susan says:

    So good to read about your progress and what stunningly beautiful terrain. I can see why you are sad to move on. Enjoy the green and warmth – we are sooo buried in snow and more coming.

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