Mini Itinerary

Blog / There Are Downhills, and There Are Downhills

7 December 2011

Attached to journey: 7 December 2011 Phou Khoun to Vang Vieng ວັງວຽງ by Bike

Legs and morale still sapped from yesterday's outing, I rolled out of bed not too happy about having to get through 100km or so on the bike. It was chilly at first, but as it warmed up, thinking of the 44km downhill to Kasi, I get myself together. As it's a downhill, I decide to wait to eat in Kasi.

One thing I'm learning: there are different types of "downhill". This was the kind that has a bunch of short, steep climbs in the middle. Grrr. The sections that didn't have me straining and regretting my feeding plan were beautiful. Spiky mountains straight from Lord of The Rings, though perhaps somewhat greener.

Kasi was my lunch stop. A Dutch couple I'd shot past on the descent pulled in to eat too. We exchanged stories - they too had started in Kunming, but instead taken the Hekou crossing out of China into northern Vietnam. They seemed pretty surprised that I'd taken on the Luang Prabang to Phou Khoun leg yesterday.

The post-lunch section of today's ride could have been easier. It seems I've yet to recuperate from yesterday. Nothing plenty of food, rest and sleep can't fix, I'm sure. There was a creeping uphill at one stage, which despite spells cast to the contrary, turned into a proper climb, albeit a short one. This turned out the be the turning point, and I crossed into a new valley, sure I was on the home straight to Vang Vieng.

What should have been a steady 25km cruise to the finish became a sour faced grind over intermittently broken seal. One kilometre of contiguous unbroken surface might have happened, but it didn't seem like it. I reckon my average speed was around 16km/h when it could have been 22ish. A pootle through the centre of town, and I landed a quality place to stop with WiFi, a warm shower etc. - a significant improvement over last night, and for less coin.

After eating my first dinner, Hani and Chera (apologies for spelling), the Dutch couple I'd met back in Na Tuey said hello. After one day's rest in Luang Prabang, they'd stopped in Kiu Kacham before bussing to Phou Khoun, stopping there, and then stopping again in Kasi.

Sounds like the Phonhong route to Vientiane isn't so favoured, most opting to go via Thalat and a quieter but longer back road. Hopefully traffic on route 13 will be manageable and that the surface will improve. Glad I'm not taking it on as a 155km leg as originally planned - that would require much better surface.

104km, 18.7km/h, 5hr34min, 1626km

Older: The Queen Stage ~ Newer: Bumpy Ride