Tuesday, 17 February 2015

What a load of rubbish

16km of dust and shitty Tarmac into a headwind isn't best tackled on 3 biscuits and a bottle of water. Suffice to say, the breakfast options in Shitey Soukhuma were a tad limited. Finally we reached a nice looking roadside eatery. We struggled to order some fried rice which was served up as a seafood special. Prawns and squid don't live around these parts so the cats ate well.
Feeling a lot better we headed off to an old ruined wat (Wat Poo, it's not spelt like that but it is pronounced like that so I'm having that one). It was much like Angkor Wat but more broken down and certainly less popular. The Laos government (we presume) are doing a good job to make it as attractive as possible - decent toilets, reasonable entry fee and an electric shuttle bus to ferry you out along the long causeway to get to the actual ruins. The ancient Frangipani trees were actually our favourite bit

It wasn't a bad spot but temples aren't really our thing, we wanted a nice shower and a clean bed to lie on

The sleepy little town of Champasak provided just that and we whiled the afternoon away on the super slow wifi in a western run cafe overlooking the Mekong, where we actually had a proper coffee and a chocolate brownie! Mind you, Enya "Orinoco Flow" on the speakers was a bit too cheezarama... 

The choice of food is getting a bit boring (although we don't actually know what we would like if we could have anything, maybe a roast?) but we do love some of the translations

There was a power cut around dawn. We only knew because the ceiling fan stopped and it began to get warm. We got up and sat in the restaurant overlooking the river. The young lad was sweeping and tidying around us. It was a lovely peaceful start to the day. What happened next wasn't so nice. The young lad had walked down to the water carrying 2 big buckets. He tipped them into the Mekong and off floated a load of old plastic bags, bottles, wrappers and all sorts of other crap that he'd just collected from the guest house bins. Shit, is this really the best they can come up with here?! Litter lines the streets in all the rural areas we've been through in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Why should the river be any different I guess? 
But surely something better could be done? An education programme? Some kind of collection system? Dare I even mention recycling? Corporate sponsorship and/or support? an NGO?

As these countries grow, the amount of litter generated is only going to grow with it. Can it be controlled? I don't know but as they say "to identify a problem is to half solve it" or something like that and it has certainly been identified...

Anyway, the ride today cheered us up. A brisk tailwind and a short distance (no need to conserve energy) meant we covered 32km at an average of 22km/h and a max of 34 on the flat. Happy days. Yesterday with the headwind we'd struggled to hold a steady 15km/h. 

We arrived in the nondescript junction town of Pakse just in time for our mid morning snack of bananas and sticky rice - rice cooked 'al dente' and mixed with sweet condensed milk and coconut. Perfect cycling food!

Kate is very happy with our bathroom!

The scenery was pleasant and the road was super smooth tarmac. 

Some bits even looked a bit like Australia.

More rubbish I'm afraid but this time its us! We plan to take a bus from here, skipping about 200km of long, flat, hot boring highway and Shitey guest houses . It just isn't quality time as there is no way to avoid the main road. Hopefully we'll find some transport that'll whisk us to the city of Savannakhet where we can pick up some more small roads along the river up to the capital Vientiane some 500km further north.
Oh, by the way, today is Vietnamese New Year. Who knew? Vietnamese people we guess!
We wandered around town a bit and sat around a bit. It looks like our transport tomorrow will be a local bus. £3.50 for a "4-5 hour journey on a non aircon bus doing many stops. Your bikes will go on top". Sounds delightful. If we had a magic wand we'd turn them into 2 of these, 

Or this? 

But alas, we haven't....


  1. Been doing some catch up reading this lovely sunny day here. 10c probably. Been out on my bicycle! Enjoying reading. We only did north Laos but you will enjoy the scenery. Hilly !

  2. Awesome bathroom Kate - not sure if you can pack all-that on the bike!