Northern Laos is stunningly beautiful and mountainous, and great for cycling if you are feeling fit. We weren’t. Unfortunately we both picked up a succession of bugs that sapped our strength. We decided to catch a bus after spending a few days in bed. Mr Ping was our cheerful driver with an unblemished record of 15 years of driving only for his steering to fail and the bus going straight on at a bend and hitting a bank and turning on it’s side. Miraculously none of the 7 passengers including a baby or Mr Ping were hurt. We were very lucky not to have gone off the side of the mountain.
Sebastian and Barbara another couple of touring cyclists were also taking the bus to give Barbara’s bad knee a rest. All 4 of our bikes were stowed on top and were unscathed apart from all breaking rear lights. We unloaded the bikes and then dropped down fourteen km to the next town. The others managed to hitch a ride on the back of a pig lorry and shortly joined us. We were resigned to staying a night at one of the local guest houses but Victoria www.TribalMusicAsia.com an American researcher into Mong tribes was desperate to get back home to Thailand and managed to badger a local tuk tuk driver into taking us onwards. We arrived in Nong Khiaw just in time for an Indian meal and we even managed to find a floor to sleep on.
The roads in Laos were mostly OK the problems came when you hit a bit of road that had been partly resurfaced. Passing cars and lorries enveloped everything in a choking dust. We passed through lots of small villages and it was easy to stock up on water. The temperatures were in the the mid 20s.
We visited the UXO museum there. During the unofficial war on Laos America had dropped the equivalent of 2 tonnes of bombs for every person in Laos. More than 300 people a year were still being killed by UXO, many were children. We had visited the caves in Vieng Xai where the Pathet Laos had sheltered from the bombing.