Travelin' Light travel blog

Saibaidee, Saibaidee!!!

A woman making new thatch panels for a roof.

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A river runs through it (sorry...I couldn't resist!).

A local procession on its way to deliver what appeared to be...

I almost made Abe wreck by twisting around on the bike to...

Gathering supplies to make new walls and roofing.

Sometimes, the signs just make us giggle...

While the Friends Bars in Vang Vieng may be soul-sucking voids, the...

Hello All~

After having had the grandaddy of all encounters the previous night ( hard to resist bad puns), we hit the road to continue into uncharted territory. While the road from Nom Noen was new to us, it would lead us back to Nong Khiaw - the lovely little river village we stayed in after taking the boat ride down from Muang Khiaw with Anne and Anton - and we planned to return and stay at the same bungalows as before.

Shortly after leaving Nom Noen, the road slowly became less wide, less traveled and less graveled. We felt as if the road was ours alone, and it was mesmerizing to sit behind Abe as we swayed in unison to the curves. Two days on the bike and Abe was Master and Commander, expertly and (seeming effortlessly) maneuvering the hairpin turns, and I had become rather adept at safely getting out the camera and taking pictures without disrupting his command of the bike. For hours, we cruised and swayed our way up, down and through the mountains, making our way through one of Laos' biggest and completely undeveloped National Parks.

Stunning views reduced themselves to glimpses through the thick jungle growth, which smelled heavily of moss, moisture and the fragrance of unknown flowers.

Becoming ever more confident, Abe was taking the curves like a pro and we had increased our speed a bit from the previous "take it slow to take in the view" pace. Since the jungle had crept in, the road became a snake-like track, a motorcycle playground, and it was fun to hang tight on the curves as we leaned deep towards the ground. The several hours of driving and not passing anyone gave us a false sense of "security" and we were shocked to come around a hairpin turn only to stare a big semi-truck in the face. That was all I saw. Abe was right in his email; what he imagined was correct. I shut my eyes tight, grabbed the rack behind me with a death grip, took a gulp of air and braced myself for what I was sure was going to be a major impact. I felt Abe swerve hard to the right and I heard the tires leave the pavement and crunch into the gravel lining the side of the road at the exact same time as I heard (and felt) the truck rush by us. Almost simultaneously, I felt Abe jam on the brakes and I slide forward and bumped into him as we came to a dead halt in the ditch beside the road. For a split second we were upright and then like a house of cards, we just fell over in unison - both of us being shocked and neither one of us having the wherewithal to put a foot down. I opened my eyes to see us laying on our left sides astride the motorcycle as if we were still riding down the rode. Saying nothing, we untrapped our legs and uprighted the bike, then just stood there trying to get our hearts back in place. Phew! That was a heart-stopper!

Getting our nerves back under control, we continued our ride - albeit at a much slower and more cautious pace. The fright of that encounter quickly faded, though, and soon enough we were able to enjoy the rest of the ride. We pulled back into Nong Khiaw early in the afternoon, but we were starving because we hadn't eaten since breakfast. So, we stopped at a restaurant with a river view and grabbed some grub and much needed beer. Then we made our way back to Bamboo Paradise, where we had stayed before. We pulled in without our helmets on and the owners quickly recognized us, greeting us with familiarity and warmth. The wife, whose name I could never get, gently patted and rubbed my arm and just smiled, smiled, smiled. They were so pleased that we had come back to stay with them and questioned us to know how far we had gotten on our bikes. Abe jokingly told them he had come back for only one thing - Koa Chee Lao breakfast - which is only made in this one guesthouse by this owner. Apparently, it is a dish that only he makes, having learned it from his father. When staying here before, Abe ate this every morning, loving the combination of ingredients and the overall hearty nature of the morning meal. I liked it well enough, but it was a rather dense meal for my tastes and after a few bites, I was satisfied. Sure enough, though, next morning before heading out to Luang Prabang, Abe had a heaping, steaming plate of sticky rice that was patted into a large pancake shape and then coated in an egg and friend in a pan. Then, I, with noodle soup filling my belly, climbed on behind Abe and we took off for our most favorite "city" of them all (at least thus far) - Luang Prabang. More to come...


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