Seabiscuit (Ella’s bicycle) has given up on us, just 20 miles from Luang Prabang in Laos and 7 miles from hitting 5,000 miles cycled in total (quarter around the world apparently). It could not muster any more power to pedal up the mountains, we believe through self diagnosis as the cassette is not engaged with the back wheel that the hub needs to be either regreased and retightened or worst case scenario a new back wheel. We have have been very fortunate so far that we have only had minor wear and tear repairs!
We desperately hoped that a bicycle shop would be found, but after a day of Googling, asking around and going from shop to shop – no luck apart from ‘mechanic’ who started yanking the chain with the delicacy of a bull so Ella quickly protected her prize possesion.
It is difficult to accept that our cycle tour in Laos has come to an abrupt end as we will need to fly to Hanoi to be able to mend her bike and an much needed overhaul for my bike. However trying to focus on what else we still have ahead of us in Vietnam and Cambodia.
From just our 7 days of being in Laos, we have cycled through many medieval villages which the roofs are thatched, cook on wood burning stoves, washing in communal water pump, women weaving on looms, kids playing hoop and stick surrounded by wandering cows, goats, chickens, ducks and piglets. The only signs of 2014 are the occasional smart phone and the TV aerials outside which nearly dwarf the shacks.
Cycling has been hard going again after finding the flats of Thailand a little too easy, a day riding in Northern Laos includes more hills than we experienced in New Zealand and one particular day was an 11 hour slog on a potholed galore 4×4 road.
Although tough, it has been by far my favourite SE Asia country to cycle in as the mountains give never ending views of lush green rice paddies and tropical forests against the contrast of the murky brown Mekong River. Another highlight is also the shouting, waving, giggling and high fiving kids that we have cycled by every day, although it is quite tricky to high five, wave and say hello when puffing and sweating up a hill.
As we haven’t blogged in awhile then best update on our Thailand ending, we finished in Chiang Mai after 1400 miles and 5 weeks cycling. We celebrated with a game of beer pong and promises to cycle again with Steve and Sue in maybe England, Europe or Kyrgyzstan!
We also mastered cooking the dishes that we ate daily so on our return expect a feast of papaya salad, massaman curry, sweet and sour vegetables and mango with sticky rice.
Next update will hopefully be back on the road again!