A Two-Ferry Day - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

December 18, 2023

A Two-Ferry Day

Don Det to Don Khong

A Two-Ferry Day

We left paradise and our decrepit bungalow early but not too early for our guest house owners to make us some Lao coffee.  We are now in a country where I can understand some of the language because it is so similar to Thai (which I know more of) and I heard the owner/wife complain to her husband, "Well, it looks like they are only going to order coffee."  In that exact tone too.  That's right, we had eaten an amazingly delicious two (2!) mangoes cut up into our muesli on our porch while watching the sunrise.  Paradise I tell you.  

Leaving our lovely bungalow.
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This is sort of what bungalows were like in the 1970's in SE Asia. But instead of the toilet there would have been a squatter. I guess this is the modern version of a squatter.
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However there are some rather poor, uneducated and unprivileged guest house owners who will complain that some of their guests, who must be millionaires, do not spend lots of money at their restaurant.   As it was, we were paying 25% more for our room because we were unaware that the owner had just set up online booking capability and to book a room online is often (and was) a lower price.  So, in my opinion, the woman had little to complain about but I am not in her shoes.  The setting was paradise and I'm actually not complaining about paying a bit more if it will give the owners more money so they can someday upgrade all of their bungalows.  They should all be demolished and rebuilt but I wonder what will happen if they aren't able to upgrade their bungalows.  It felt a bit like a downward spiral for the owners but I hope I'm wrong.  They have an amazing piece of property and I hope they do well there.

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Anyway, we rode down the silent path to the Don Det pier and got a ferry, (wooden raft with a motor), to Don Som just a few minutes away.  We rode the most beautiful path along the Mekong right next to lots of houses, temples and bamboo.  We had no idea there were so many people who lived on Don Som since we had previously, 9 years ago, ridden down the middle of the island where it's solid rice paddies and we saw little else.  It was such a great idea to change up our route this time and a great surprise to find all the houses and even a temple.  

Leaving Don Det.
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They just were opening this new little place on a tiny island when we were leaving. It looked like fun.
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Don Det Pier
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Our ferry arriving.
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Scott AndersonWow. I want to ride on one of those!
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2 months ago
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Don Som ahead.
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On Don Som
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Temple on Don Som where the ceremonial boat was kept.
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Don Som has a second ceremonial boat. We thought they might heft it up to be alongside the winning boat but instead all the guys walked down the trail to a big party. Maybe the party for the winners. They will haul this boat out of the water once everyone is good and drunk. This is the Lao way.
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We arrived just a few minutes late to witness the heaving of one of the ceremonial boats that raced, and won, in the boat races the day before.  The ceremonial long boats are always kept next to temples in their own roofed places.  They must weigh a ton or more and it would have been nice to see the twenty-five young men lifting it.  I would have probably dropped my camera to help them,  throwing my back out in the process and then being unable to continue on our bike trip but it would have been kind of cool lying on the floor of that temple flat on my back looking up at murals depicting the life of the Buddha, contemplating all of that, for the next two months, recovering with monks bringing me food they had been given by the townspeople as well as cigarettes (yes, Lao monks are allowed to smoke!).  I could have learned Lao.  But we were too late to do any of that.  The boys had just moments earlier placed the boat in its dry dock moorage where it will sit for exactly one year until the next race.  The gang of guys looked at me as if to say, "A lot of help you were."

We rode to the end of the island on trails near the water, getting lost once but eventually finding another raft-like ferry, and ferry guy, who was thrilled to take us across to Don Khong.  It was as if he knew we were coming because he met us at a turn off from the path we were on to make sure we knew to turn down the smaller path to the ferry.  We did know that but it was nice to be greeted by such a friendly guy.  It was a lovely voyage.  On the other side he helped push our bikes up a steep sandy embankment, all for little more than a dollar for both of us.  

On Don Som
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Mark Lellmanlooks like north shore drive in the 50's
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Mark LellmanYes, it sure does.
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1 month ago
A baby water buffalo with his own little mud hole.
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Ron SuchanekI became reacquainted with my sin sleeves last summer and remembered how much they cool my arms. How do you like yours?
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1 month ago
Andrea BrownTo Ron SuchanekIndispensable!
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1 month ago
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Ferry to Don Khong
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Our nice ferryman to Don Khong.
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On Don Khong
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We found the three guest houses on Don Khong all in a row, all with their own restaurants across a little street, overhanging the Mekong.  We chose the same guest house we had been in nine years earlier because we liked the owner, Pon.  We got settled in our room and went across to get a mango shake but the woman working in the restaurant at the time seemed as though she had never heard of a fruit shake even though they were on the menu.  I repeated what was on the menu using Google Translate and still her eyes resembled a deer's with headlights illuminating them. I had done all I could.  She had to know what a fruit shake was so I walked back to our table.  She stumbled through making them and it did seem as though she had never made a shake before.  The result was simply mango blended with ice, not really a shake but it was refreshing.  

Both of these bunches of flowers were on the same bush.
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My bike's belt had been screeching for days due to dust, (one of the drawbacks to a belt drive we have discovered).  Andrea's is not screeching at all but we figure it's because the oil leak from her hub has gotten oil on her belt.  My screeching belt has been driving me nuts.  It's a dry screech, sort of like a bike chain that had been out in the rain for about ten years, coated with rust.  I imagine it would sound about the same.  I've never ridden a noisier bike and that includes my twice handed down bike when I was a kid!

I asked Pon if he had a hose that I could use and he showed me the perfect spot for both of us to wash off our bikes.  I ran a lot of water in and around the belt but after it was dry the screech hadn't changed.  Then Andrea googled it and found that the screeching is not damaging anything but if you can't stand it!! then you could spray silicone on the inner part of the belt and once dry it would have such a slick surface the dust wouldn't settle on it.  That's fine but we are in the middle of nowhere and will be in the middle of even more nowhere for some time yet and even when we get somewhere it will be quite the adventure trying to find a can of silicone spray.  It will have to be a pretty big city with a pretty big store and lots of translating to try to get across to someone,silicone spray.  I wonder how silicone translates anyway.  And then, do I really want to carry a can of silicone spray?  I really hate the noise it makes with every pedal so I'll do anything, even stumbling, humiliating, garbling of a foreign language in order to try and make the screeching stop.  I'd sell my first born!  That's how bad it is.  People stare at my bike with concern as I ride by.  They must wonder what that horrible noise is and I hate it.  I also think it is slightly harder to pedal but that could be psychological.  It is driving me nuts and is harshing my experience here in Asia.  Because Andrea's belt is silent, as it should be, it has to be the oil that has coated it - an inadvertent educational thing for us because now I know what I can put on my belt.  All the liquid chemically thing we have along is some mosquito repellant.  I'm going to try to find some silicone or oil or something first but then it might be on to the repellant, sunscreen, shampoo, soap, dog's pee, anything, anything to stop the terrible screeching. I can't hear the birds as I ride by.

When we had pavement it often looked like this.
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Scott AndersonBetter if unmetaled, I’d think.
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2 months ago
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View from our restaurant on Don Khong.
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View from our restaurant on Don Khong.
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Besides the screeching it was another good day.  The roads were rough at times, very rough at other times, downright awful at other times and sometimes pretty good.  It was only 14 miles!  The scenery was always interesting and the people greeting us were absolutely wonderful.  We can't complain about anything.  Even with my screechy bike, we are the privileged.  I keep that in mind all the time.  

lovebruce

Today's ride: 14 miles (23 km)
Total: 381 miles (613 km)

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Jen RahnI love all of the photos of Andrea in cycle touring action! I think one of them should be on the cover of Adventure Cycling magazine! Along with a story written by youse two.

Bruce - the most interesting part of that parallel universe where you help the guys lift their boat and throw your back out and then lie on the floor of the temple while cigarette-smoking monks attend to you ... the most interesting part of this universe is that you don't have to listen to your squeaky bike!

This makes me happy for your annoyance, in a weird way.

And I hope you find something soon to quiet the belt!!
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2 months ago
Rachael AndersonTo Jen RahnI agree with you on the great photos of Andrea!
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2 months ago
Ron SuchanekI've seen a few videos with belt drives and haven't heard of the screeching. Glad the silicone will help. I would be annoyed too.
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1 month ago