Sunday, 1 March 2015

Western pleasures

There was some kerfuffle at the bus station when we'd arrived at Phonsavan. The driver climbed up onto the roof of the bus to get the bikes down and disturbed a chicken that had escaped from its wicker cage during the journey. He half chucked Kate's bike down to me as he made a mad scrabble to catch the over excited feathered maniac.

The station is a few K's out of town and there is a little shuttle bus to take you to the centre. Would you believe that it is electric? In all the third world chaos, the government (or someone) is actually making the effort to be green! Anything to get one less exhaust fume spewing, noisy vehicle off the road works for us, they do seen to be particularly spewy (is that a word?) around these parts.

The reason we'd come to Phonsavan was to visit the Plain of Jars, well that and it was also a city on our route so therefore unavoidable. It's quite big but not much of a place.

There is an Indian restaurant in town where we had dinner and breakfast and probably dinner again (yep, and breakfast again). It is so nice to taste something that isn't noodle soup!

The Plain of Jars was, unfortunately, less exciting than a bowl of dahl and a garlic nan. We cycled out to the nearest (ok, not reputed to be the most atmospheric sight) with a couple of French girls who are also cycling around the region. So, what is the Plain of Jars like? Well, it's a big field full of stone pots/jars that no one really seems to know anything about. 2000 years old? Ancient burial tombs? We googled it and still not much came up. To be honest the ride in the electric (yes, another one) shuttle bus from the ticket desk out to the edge of the field was the best bit! 

There was just not really anything to it. We cycled back, happy in the fact it had only cost us about £1.20 plus a bit of pedalling rather than the grand tour for $25 on offer from town. The French girls have real 'joire de vivre'. They've done pretty much to same trip as us on shitty old mountain bikes with buckles wheels & bald tyres. They made their own pannier racks from plumbing piping and just get on with it. "Good on em" we say!

Un exploded bombs and landmines are another 'highlight' of the region. There is a statistic of a bombs dropped every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for 9 years. god bless America. Have a look at this little lot that's been found in the local fields since the 70's

We spent the afternoon in a western cafe, ate a pretty damn rank cheeseburger and made up our minds to ride on tomorrow. We spent ages on the super slow wifi trying to look up info on the road ahead - elevations, climbs, food, drink, guesthouses.... We gave up, relying in the fact that its all worked ok up until now. It's amazing how quickly we'd forgotten the experiences of just 24 hours before...

...... Well, we've stayed another day. This one just to really sit about and do nothing. There are quite a few adventure overlander types here. Cyclists going north, south, east and west. there are 2 who were even considering building a motorbike powered raft to bob their way down the river on. There were a bunch of Aussies on rented dirt bikes, some Chinese motorbikers and more from Sweden and Thailand. It is all going on (well in a low key, not quite sure what we're going to do until lunchtime kind of way). The big message that we're getting is that if you fancy getting out there and having your own adventure then just go. The details will all work themselves out for you...

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