Saturday, 10 December 2011

Vientiane and Vang Vieng!

This is my bike getting a clean over in Thailand:
Cheap too! 70baht and they did it all very quickly, then used an air compressor to dry it of. Now that I'm in Laos it no longer looks like that of course.... So much dust.

The former Laos flag at the top, and the current flag in the middle.
Vientiane was OK, no really tall buildings and the traffic is rather quiet in the area I was in (I quickly learnt that's not the case elsewhere). However it's still expensive because it's a capital. I was paying 140000kip ($17) for a room a night and I think you can do less but not too much lower unless you go dorm rooms. There's still a lot of french influence there with a many bakeries selling baguettes and croissants, and lots of signs in french too.

I had one older guy come up and stop me on the street saying he saw me walking around the night before, but kept talking about his family and I dunno I stopped listening. But the whole time he had his right hand in his pocket, like he was going to stab me so I kept a eye on his arm all the time and he started to get closer too. Then when he got something out of his bag he kept his right hand under the bag to lift it up... I didn't get stabbed, but I think he might have a disfigured hand which is why he was doing it. Still, odd way to come up to strangers and do that too, what do they expect.

The black stupa in the middle of some random streets. (That Dam is its name).
I have sorted out my innernets (I needs it ok! :P). I went to the Lao Telecom customer service place in Vientiane after the curious non-stabbing. Managed to pick up a 3G sim with unlimited data for 30 days for 485000kip, about $55-60. Expensive, but it's far better than Malaysia or Thailand so far. The coverage is meant to be a problem here, but most main towns will have coverage I've been told. I'm up to 6gb already so I'm really testing out the unlimited usage...

I'm prepared for any country now! Also: I'M RICH! HAHAHAH! (that's about $300 there...)
After Vientiane I headed north to Vang Vieng, a small town by the mekong that's known for lots of drunk tourists floating down the river on tubes and stopping at riverside bars.

On the way out of Vientiane I hit very bad traffic and roads. The cars were all slowing down to 10-20km/h to go over these big potholes or missing sections of road and the traffic didn't really let up for about 30km. Once the traffic died off a little the roads got worse though. Every couple hundred meters of road there would be a twenty meter patch where they've removed the surface and left a gravelly, rocky, dusty section. Very rarely there'd be a flat surface for longer, and most of the time the flat surfaces disappeared. Because it was so dusty there were locals hosing the road infront of their place to try and keep the dust down. Some villages didn't bother and the houses, trees, people, and animals all just ended up reddy-brown from all the dust (not that the water really helped elsewhere).

I think the 155km journey took 5 hours to complete. It annoyed me because my suspension works a lot better on the bumpy surface when I'm doing 60-80km/h, unfortunately with the traffic I could rarely get over 30km/h and then I felt all the bumps.

From a new bridge over the river to the old bridge. There were two locals there looking it over who said they were from the company that built it and they are planning the repairs for it now.
Small town on the way with a bike in the middle of the photo...
So once I got to Vang Vieng, I was sore, and tired, and annoyed. I parked on the old CIA runway and researched my options for accommodation. And now I'm paying 70000kip/night for a room, so I think I'll stay a bit longer here now and try to forget how bad the road was before getting on the bike again.

Toll bridge to "Party Island"...

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