16 December 2011
Today's ride was a bit more interesting, if only for the road being less flat. Gentle ups and downs all day. There were some karst-like mountains to the east, which raises the spectre of climbs once I'm headed east after Savannakhet.
After rolling out from Old Ding's, I stop at a motorbike shop that's supposedly run by a guy from Hunan to put some air in my tyres. No sign of the Hunan guy, but sign language works fine. No compressor, but a track pump does the job.
Today's mistake is a poor eating plan. The small portion at dinner last night is the root of the problem, and by 35km I'm starting to feel drained.
I pull over for noodles, but it's not going to be enough. 10km or so later, I stop to buy snacks: water, Coke, prawn crackers, biscuits, all down the hatch. Starting to feel better.
The last 30km start to drag, but some tunes help and I finish feeling okay. I had clear directions to what was supposed to be the best guesthouse in town, and they have a room. It looks pretty comfy too.
I get a sandwich straight after I've checked in, and then shower and head off to the riverside. I'm able to find the spare batteries I need for my bike computer. I'd meant to buy these in Kunming, but it just never fitted in with the other myriad chores before departure. On the way to the river I see signs with Lao, Thai (they're written similarly enough for me to be unable to spot the difference, but they must have both been there), Chinese, Korean, English, Vietnamese and French.
By the river there's a small square surrounded by dilapidated French colonial era buildings. I instantly imagine restaurants, cafés, bars, outdoor seating, parasols, but none of it's there. There's food carts on the front, and that's about it. The market's just not ready yet. I catch the river as the sun sets and then loop back around to the guesthouse.
I've made loose plans to meet the couple from Norwich, but end up being joined by Justin and Emma, bike tourists who have spent 19 months on the road from London, bound for Bangkok and eventually New Zealand. By now they've seen it all, and had especially wacky tales from Russia and Mongolia.
I also fuelled up: beef and potato stew with bread, chips, garlic bread, French toast with jam. Just got to up my intake.
106km, 22.5km/h, 4hr42min, 2147km