to Thakhek

Vientiane to Thakhek
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Now we’re running parallel to the Mekong again. We cross rivers like this flowing east to west into the giant river all day
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Dry, dusty towns every twenty minutes or so. The further south we go the more the villages have basic services. Nowhere are modern as Thailand though
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We stop here to walk down to the great river
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Along a path, hoping to see snakes before we get too south
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It’s so still it’s sometimes hard to believe the river is flowing
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This fellow is towing a net as he walks slowly downstream. If you click on this you’ll see the floats
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Despite the every-browning of the landscape, the river banks are emerald-green
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A huge river drains in
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This pretty flower. The only time we’ve seen it
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A few crags, not many. Lunch was across the street
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Laos is quiet, always
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And into Thakhek. The waterfront street had about a dozen beautiful, restored French buildings
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The rest of the town was in disrepair but was beautiful
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Tree and monks
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Monks on bikes. The best thing ever. Which reminds me. The girls here change into ‘onesies’ at about dusk and scooter around in brightly colored and patterned fleece. Really odd, but nice.

Another thing about boys and girls, and men and women, in Laos is that there are zero public displays of affection. Beyond puberty, not even holding hands. And never ever will you see someone kiss someone else. It’s just bad manners, like looking untidy, no matter how poor
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As it happens, I met a French girl and have been travelling with her. (Normally this topic wouldn’t be included in this ride report but it starts to have an unexpected impact on the ride logistics, as you’ll see). She gets a bus from A to B while I ride, then at her destination rents a scooter. Today we head off on Lucinda into the country. Lucinda likes travelling without her panniers once in a while and always when there’s a passenger on the back. Wow she’s a slim bike without her full gear
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The route. It’s part of ‘the loop’. I would have done it all but plans have changed with Christmas approaching
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Hard to describe how beautiful the ride up the valley was
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We went to a deep cave. A few hundred yards before the entrance a kid stops, says “guide” and holds out his hand. We give him the equivalent of about 50 cents as he charges ahead, even though we can see it clearly
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Here he shows off his balancing skills
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We ride for another 40 miles up to what we resume is a new reservoir. Drowned trees everywhere
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Through limestone gorges
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And back to Thakhek. This evening we see a two young guys on a scooter brought down by a man on the street below. The scooter crashed, spilling the riders, and the man starts in on the boys with the most violent attack we’ve ever seen. He’s got a 4 or 5 foot piece of wood and it looks like he’s trying to kill them. The difference between hurting and killing is pretty clear, clubbing them full-force relentlessly after they’re unconscious. Fortunately enough people stop him, but most are scared to approach. Over the last few years we’ve seen occasional violence, and I only include this story because it’s such a shocking contrast to their quiet, reserved, shy usual nature
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