Crossing the border to get in Laos is quite comic, this border is the only one between Cambodia and Laos, so impossible to avoid it, and customs officer knows it. So here everything works with baksheesh, for 2$, you have your stamp to get out, if you refuse, they never mind, you have no more solution that turn back… I had been warned, so I kindly pay 2$ to get out of Cambodia, but when the officer gime me my money with 2$ banknote, it’s enough !! I’m kind, but it would be nice to not to abuse.
In Laos side, it’s the same scenario, but this time, I refuse to pay, so after file charges, stamp fees and bike charge, with no more arguments, the customs officer let me go !!
Few kilometers after the border, I drop my bags on Don Khon island, a calm place, there I take time to do… nothing, spend my days on my hammock, watching the Mekong passing under my feet… It’s my way to celebrate my 30th y.o. and it’s going pretty good 🙂
Upon leaving, I discovered a puncture on my rear tire (the 3rd one on 27.000 km), so I take the time to quietly repair, and rest one more day in this quiet place. Then heading north to the Bolaven Plateau.
The Boloven plateau is known for its coffee and tea production, but also for its numerous waterfalls . I have all my time, so I take three days to cycle the loop around the plateau, and going to [wash] swim here and there. End of this loop in Tad Lo, a small village where life is good. I spend my days in the river, under the funny, puzzled look of kids that came here to play and wash themselves. We’re on April 12th, from 13 to 15th it’s New Year in Laos, also called « Pimay » (they get in 2559 in buddhist calendar), so I decide to stay here a bit more to live this event with local people
I’m going back the 14th, and enjoy the water festival, which occur during Pimay. Everywhere in villages, Lao people are throwing buckets of water on it, lined up along the road they’re waiting, beer in hand, and music background, someone passes in front of them. Bus, pickup, motorbike, and of course bicycle… everybody get it, so I can’t escape it… But truth is, by 45°C (113°F) the day, I like it, I’m refreshed every 500m from head to foot (and sometime welcomed with a beer) 🙂
Arrived in Vang Vieng, a small village on the road between Vientiane (the capital) and Luang Prabang, my time is limited (well, at least the one of my visa). Cycling (go and return) will take all my remaining time (especially due to elevation between these two cities), so I decide to leave my bike in Vang Vieng and take a bus to Luang Prabang.
The city, although very touristy has a good atmosphere, city center today is overcrowded by guesthouse and souvenirs shop, but when night came, the night market take the top and invaded the main street… Here we find (inter alia) a 1.7$ buffet, for this price you can refill a bowl as you can, so mine looks more a mountain that everything else, but no problems to finish it 🙂
Around Luang Prabang, cascades and waterfall (original isn’t it…) but they’re worth visiting, so visiting Kuang Si waterfall then surroundings of the city and it’s already time to get back…
Visiting surroundings of Vang Vieng, then direction Thailand.