Savannakhet Travel Blog› entry 54 of 86 › view all entries
Laos started nicely enough but unfortunately became quite difficult: First Daren's back wheel rim split and we had to abandom the beautifull dirt tracks along the Mekong. To save the wheel we went on a long flat road through landscapes of dry ricefields, wodden houses and many muddy karaboos, constantly wondering how far we may get with this split rim. 130 km later it broke completely. We were in a place called Pakhse and thought we were lucky because it was the biggest place about, but there appeared to be no mountain bike back wheels here. Nor in laos all together. We then hunted down a welder who patched it up. 7 km out of town it broke again and we ended up back in town with no wheel and no welding option or anything. We looked at ordering on line, we looked at going across to Thailand and thought of bying a small wheel of some child and build a penny farthen for Daren to complete the ride on. After trotting endless km in search for a wheel we found a rusty one with broken spokes, in the backyard of our old hotel. But everyone knew wheels that aren't small, are gold in Laos and bying it was like bying an extinct animal: we had to wait for a girl to return as she was the only person willing to take responsibility for the valued goods, then she had to see someone, phone someone else and eventually for 20 unnegotiable US dollars it was ours.
Throughout all that we'd both been ill. Daren witha strange rash and I was continuosly vomiting at the roadside again, unable to keep enough food and water down to have any energy for riding. Eventually it got so bad Daren and I did some self diagnosing with the help of the Lonely Planets unaccurate health pages and I bought some antibiotics from a shady Pharmacy. Normally I wouldn't do that but Laos healthcare in the counrtside reminds a lot of the back wheel situation.
Well over that and in order to save some money we decided to camp. But even this proved slightly problematic as, to our surprise, we had left the outer tent pole somewhere in Cambodia. Luckily the nights in southern Laos are hot and dry and it didn't really matter, as we could just drape the outer layer over the inner tent. In that way we could lie and watch the stars whilst drifting off to sleep.
And then finally we got going again. Darens improvised rubbish wheel worked well, our improvised tent with it's beautifull views and our endless amount off home cooked noddle dishes with barely any variation, all brought independence and happiness:
One evening as we sat amongst the shrubs, grasshoppers keept bouncing against my face towards the light of my head torch. I put my torch on my knee and instantly a smal colony of translucent flies with big fairy wings gathered on my knee in front of it. Just calmly staring into it whilst I wrote. never moving... Above us the stars were clear and inspite of the thorny shrubs surrounding us and the area having looked a bit hostile in the day light, it became home as darkness wrapped its protective blanket around us and we became one with the night landscape around us.