Wrapping up the ride: Heading for Vietnam, via Bangkok and Air Asia - Taking my life for a ride - CycleBlaze

September 19, 2015

Wrapping up the ride: Heading for Vietnam, via Bangkok and Air Asia

Post Ebola


I spent about a week in Vientiane, just lying low and getting over my cold. In hindsight, I know I was chipping away at my health riding to the point of near exhaustion almost every day. But I probably couldn't have avoided it, either. The heat is a major factor and you just can't avoid it if you're cycling. There are a lot of people here, locals and travellers alike, coughing and hacking and blowing their noses - seems the flu is everywhere. Hygiene levels are low and there are ample opportunities for cold and flu germs to multiply and prosper. The combination is deadly: It's just part of the experience.

Although I think Vientiane is perhaps the least salubrious town I could have found to spend an enforced layover. I didn't find much there to commend it. And I got truly put off by all the expats behaving badly. Van Vieng is for the young backpackers and it seems Vientiane is where the geriatric expats hang out and behave badly. Too much dirt & squalor, too many geriatric Americans/Aussies/French, too much drugs and alcohol, too many hookers and ladyboy hookers working the late night street corners... just a little too much of all the things I'd rather not have to confront while travelling.

Anyhow, I was laid up there about a week. During that time, my wife had flown into Vietnam and has been tootling about the Mekong waiting patiently for me to quit feeling sorry for myself and figure out what I was doing next.

I don't keep a tight watch of every penny spent when travelling, so can't give you a detailed breakdown of costs in each country - but in my opinion, Laos is not a cheap country to travel through. The two young hotel managers in Vientiane (one Vietnamese and the other Phillipine) were of the firm opinion it was also more expensive than the rest of SE Asia. I'd put daily living expenses higher than Thailand and less value for your dollar. The price of goods and services seem to be unofficially pegged to the USD, so as the dollar increases in value, the prices increase accordingly. Hotel rooms are from $10 USD per night in remote locations, to $20 to $30 per night in the tourist towns. I was spending about $10 per meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Aussie dollar does not go far here in Laos. You'd be much better off if you're using USD.

So, what's the plan?

I decided to ride across the border to Nong Khai and catch the night train to Bangkok. From the train station it's only a short 3 km ride to Granny Bike. They will store my bike and gear for me while I go spend some time with my wife in Vietnam. From there I will have to retrace my steps back to Bangkok and pick up the bike. I may start riding again, after all I haven't seen Angkor Wat yet. Or I may head back to Perth for a short break before getting back on the bike and heading off somewhere. I'll certainly be coming back to Thailand for more cycling in the not too distant future.

So much to do. So many new people to meet. So many new places to see.

Rate this entry's writing Heart 0
Comment on this entry Comment 0