Friday March 1st 114k to Pakse , 6hr.30 ride time, Av speed 17.5
Pete did a repair job on the mossie screens before we went to bed last night, so we could sleep with the window open but around midnight Nickie wakes cos she’s been bitten on her backside. Then we see the huge gaps around the door, so up went the mossie net over the bed. Nickie spent a few hours listening to the many sounds of the geckos, they chuckle and gargle and bark, noisy things , ..not much sleep was had with a the biggest day ahead. At 7.15am the sun was a magenta coloured orb, tinted by the heat haze and smoke, only 26C but we knew it would be a scorcher. We are thankful again to have stopped yesterday at 100ks cos we don’t see a guesthouse all morning. 9am we stop to have the best noodle soup yet, with egg and now the temp was 36C. The constant head or side wind kept our speed down to about 18k. When we stopped for photos, the burn from the hot road took only about 30 seconds to reach our brains and make us feel faint, keep moving and keep cool. So not so many photo stops today. Pete didn’t hear Nickie yell to stop for a photo and rear-ended her bike..that was a close call, we could have both fallen into the traffic. See photos for the contrast of scenery, one village was very green, with ponds, paddys and waterholes while on the opposite side of the road it looked like drought. We rode many hours closer and closer to the hills around Pakse and the Bolaven Plateau, the road was rollercoaster ups and downs, with a decrease overall in altitude. At a waterstop, 2 girls on their way to school stopped for a photo. Just before 5pm, we wearily cycled to recommended Sabaidy 2 guesthouse, and with no vacancy there, we opted for a bit of olde world charm and took a room in the Salachampa Hotel, the oldest villa in town. At $26NZ, it was the most we have paid yet (185, 000 kip) and what luxury to have hot shower and air/con and clean white sheets!!!. Mossies were everywhere as the old doors had huge gaps, so had to drown ourselves in DEET after showering ourselves clean, there was no place to hang the net from the 12 foot stud. BBQ fish and salad in rice paper wraps from one of the many Mekong riverside stalls was delicious, we craved the oil and salt. Nickie fell asleep immediately on return to the room while Pete worked on the blog. She woke about 2 hrs later feeling shivery, pulse racing and her tummy was very queasy…oh no….was it dehydration?, was it bad food?.... once again we had broken the “safe food code”. She couldn’t get comfortable so in desperation thought the only way to get rid of the problem was to make herself sick and get rid of any bug before it got worse....and it worked thankfully.
Saturday Mar 2nd Pakse. Restday
Pete spent hours this morning fixing virus protection on his PC, while Nickie arranged 2 nights stay at Sabaidy 2 guesthouse with a day tour to the Bolaven Plateau tomorrow to view, tea and coffee plantations, waterfalls and villages as we hadn’t done anything much cultural yet. After moving into Sabaidy 2 we took the bikes to a French café, the iced coffee was heavenly , although Nickie’s almond croissant was a stale disappointment. A group of about 15 french tourists arrived en masse and so that was the end of a peaceful lunch. Nickie used the Wifi to work on the blog (with her earplugs in, cos those frenchies were making such a racket no-one else in the café, could hold a conversation) . Around 3 pm the sky clouded over, we heard thunder and the wind blew very erratically, rubbish and bags were flying everywhere. Seemed a storm was coming!!...we better get back to the guesthouse….we got about 20 spots of rain and the wind stopped abruptly…that’s all! An hour of cycling along the river and through some very busy streets, was not so interesting. We had dinner with French cyclists, Luke (60) and Christian,(68) who have been 3 months in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Only Luke spoke English and he had fascinating tales to tell of his career as an officer general in the French army, posted in many African countries, Croatia and Albania. Shame we didn’t get to know more about Christian. We were looking forward to a sound sleep, but in the middle of the sweaty, humid night we had to rig up the mossie net. Why don’t doors fit tight here in mossie country?? Seems crazy to have secure mesh over the windows but gaps around the door that you can stick your thumbs through.