Sad feelings – Our last day in Laos
|Travel From||–||Ven Vieng, Laos|
|Ending Location||–||Vientiene, Laos|
|Miles Driven Today||–||123 Miles|
|Total Trip Mileage||–||13570 Miles|
|Countries visited Today||–|
|Countries visited on trip||US, Canada, UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Laos|
It’s hard to believe that I’m about to enter Thailand, the last of 20 countries that I’ll be visiting on the motorcycle. Laos has been a wonderful companion, with its amazing fruits, wonderful people, and smiling children. I’m sad to think that I’ll be leaving, after only 4 days in this country. I would have gladly traded a week in China for a week in Laos.
We left the hotel at 8:30 AM, with the hopes that we’d end in Vientiene at an early hour, as we had much to do to prepare to enter Thailand. At this point in the trip, I’ve been on the road for over 100 days, traveled more than 13,500 miles on the motorcycle, and visited 19 countries. But, I digress. It’s time to hit the road.
The morning ride
The morning ride comes with mixed blessings. The shape and elevation of the roads was excellent. These would be great motorcycle roads, except for one thing… They are coated with oil, and are very slick to ride on.
To give you an idea of how slick they are, Ralf, Phil, Charles and I made up the second group of riders. Ralf tends to ride conservatively, but today, he slowed down even more, which is probably good insight on his part. I was riding in front of the van, who was sweeping behind us. I watched the three other riders, slowly and methodically pass a truck, and after about 2 minutes of waiting, it was my turn. I was almost a minute behind the group, and I wanted to get caught up, so I passed the truck, and hit the throttle. The bike was in Dynamic mode, which is the mode that allows the highest performance, and coincidentally, the greatest amount of tire spinning.
So, I begin my pass, get around the truck, and crack the throttle. I feel the rear tire spin, and the back end of the bike swing from L to R to L again. The spinning was instantly recognizable, but not too significant, and I calmly recovered and continued riding.
This same thing happened a second time, so I figured I should do something, so I put the bike in Rain mode. In Rain mode, the bike understands that you’re driving on wet roads, and as such, it does not allow you to accelerate as quickly, and it keeps a hyper-vigilant eye on any wheel spin that might occur. Well, lo and behold, I was able to spin the back tire a third and fourth time, these last two times, in Rain mode.
So, when a bike can spin the tire, while riding on dry roads, in rain mode, the roads are very, very slick. And so it went for the next 30-40 miles. Dealing with the terrible conditions.
However challenging these roads might be, they were wonderfully curvy, and just the kind of roads that are great for motorcycles.
Along the way, we deviated from our prescribed route, and turned left up to a lake, which seems to have been formed as a result of building the new dam, just up the river.
We passed the dam, and rode another 3 miles to an overlook, where we could see the islands, and the lake itself. Another breathtaking view, and another great experience in Laos.
Looking at the lake, knowing that it was built as the result of installing a hydro-electric dam, I have mixed feelings, but this country is evolving, and they need electricity to supply to the people, and they also plan on exporting the electricity to neighboring countries, as a way of improving their GDP.
On our way to the lake, we crossed over a one-lane bridge, that struck me, so I decided to create a little video of the bridge.
Better riding conditions
After leaving the lake, the road conditions improved significantly, and for the last 60 miles, we were able to click along at a much more comfortable pace, with confidence that the roads were not covered in oil, and slick.
So, we made pretty quick work of these 50 miles or so, and found ourselves at a lunch stop, situated along the Mekong river.
With only 18 miles to go, we stop for a quick lunch, which would put us at the hotel at about 2:15 or so. We had hoped that this restaurant would give us one last great lunch in Laos, but just about all of the food was mediocre, and not appealing.
Bruno found, what seemed to be a roach, and wondered if it was part of the meal, or an accident. In either case, he ate it and reported that it was “like a chip”. So, I guess they are edible, and with seasonings, not so bad…
After lunch, I was ready to go, and it turned out that Feroz and I were leaving at the same time. So I followed him through the streets of Vientiene, and with about blocks to go before we hit the hotel, he continued straight, and we found ourselves at a Car-wash.
We paid 10,000 Kip for each bike, and watched at they spent 40 minutes washing our bikes. My bike is now pretty clean, and I’m hopeful that I can avoid too much mud and dirt, between now, and our hotel in Bangkok.
We finally arrived at the hotel at about 3:00 PM, and found that most of the other riders had already arrived and parked their bikes.
You can see that some of the bikes and riders have already arrived, and the new van is in place, ready to take all of the gear from the Big Red Van.
Today, we would need to remove any and all of our stuff from the van, and figure out what to do with it, as the van cannot enter Thailand. So, I grabbed my stuff, and put it in a plastic bag, to be sorted out later.
I still had one Michelin Anakee Adventure tire Reconcile the van, along with the 3 bottles of Vodka, which I have promised to a Scott Russell, who is waiting for them, to be given as auction items, for the Vets.
Report from the road
What will tomorrow bring
Tomorrow should prove to be a very interesting day. We will leave at 8:00 AM, but our guide will have left 30-60 minutes earlier, so that he can have all of our paperwork completed, in advance of our arrival at the Laos Immigration and Customs office.
We’ll then travel across the freedom bridge, and to the Thailand customs and immigration, where we’ll meet our new guides, and go through our final immigration and customs process.