Day 7 - On The Boat - Summer Thaime - CycleBlaze

July 24, 2018

Day 7 - On The Boat

To Pak Beng then Luang Prabang

Sleep was awesome in that guesthouse. By 7pm last night the whole place was deserted and it was so quiet as to be surreal. The wifi also cut out so there wasn't much else to do except sleep.  Around 3am I was out the door raring to go. The owners knew my plan, and they said I was essentially trying to make the boat that leaves Pak Beng at 8am. Yup we'll go with that.  I would also add, I wanted to cycle my way out before dawn on the heels of yesterday so as not to be spotted lol.  As ridiculous as it sounds, as long as I crossed out of Sayaboury province into the next one I should be OK.  That is, if this province really does ban bike tourists.  And the question we'll never know the answer to is WHY.

Surprisingly there was still traffic at this time. The first two hours were pitch dark through the peaks of the mountains but it gradually got lighter with a touch of morning mist and rain. It was all such a trippy experience, especially rolling through these sleepy villages at daybreak. It really made me appreciate what I was doing. The road did its usual up and down course but overall not too difficult.

Once the villages started to awaken I was quite sure the spectacle. The reactions were priceless, a mix of hellos, waves, sabaidees, and slack jawed astonishment that I was even here. It goes to show you just how rare the cyclists are now. A shame too because if cycle tourists were permitted to enter via Sayaboury crossings, the roads would make for key connections between Nan, Luang Prabang, and Vang Vieng. Indeed, locals at a guesthouse by the Kasi hot springs were bitching about this very thing last year because the bulk of their traffic came from Sayaboury crossings when it used to be allowed. If things ever open up again, you'll want to do this route and not have to resort to rolling the dice like I did. It is fabulous. 

Stunning mist views
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Safely over the bridge into the next province
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Dropping down to the Mekong River Bridge I stopped off for the first proper meal in a long time and enjoyed it to the max. I was now essentially home free across the bridge in another province. Realizing, perhaps subconsciously, how fast a pace I was cracking I decided to slow it right down. There were hours before the boat left and only 10km before Pak Beng. So much time that I got a second breakfast in the town and changed more Thai baht.

Unfortunately my rear rack snapped just before the town but with repairs easy to do in Luang Prabang I wasn't too worried. The bike and all my stuff got loaded onto the slow boat which was slam packed with tourists. Most had come from Huay Xai and were overnighting in Pak Beng. This is a typical Lonely Planet thing to do and not my cup of tea which gives even more reason to the importance of the Sayaboury crossings: you can bike it and save a day on that boat, or even skip the boat entirely. The slow boat has its charms to be sure but needless to say it wasn't my favorite boat ride.

Along the river to Pak Beng
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My favorite was cycling into town while everyone else clamored for tuktuks. The boat terminal happens to be 6km out. Then there was the bonus of scoring wicked discounts on rooms during low season. I'll be chilling here for awhile.

Today's ride: 51 km (32 miles)
Total: 460 km (286 miles)

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