Thursday, April 26, 2007

Day 16: Luang Prabang - Kiou Ka Cham

“The rollercoaster”

Woke up at 6.15am to the sound of torrential rain which finally stopped nearly two hours later. I checked out, rode to my favoured breakfast spot for banana pancakes and pedalled off in the rain. The day was a full mountain experience. The first climb was 17kms and steep (pictured), but with spectacular scenery to distract. Despite being a little under the weather with a cold, I climbed reasonably well. The other side of the mountain was a 17km descent with a resthouse at the bottom, which is where I stopped for a Coke and a rest. A strange feeling sitting there staring at the 22km mountain directly in front of me – with 1200m of vertical to deal with.

The climb was similar to the one to Sapa, though not as high or cold, and I managed a reasonable tempo for the two hours it took to tackle it. At the tope I came across a couple of cyclists from France and Belgium where we had a quick chat. Barely over the summit I was in the town of Kiou Ka Cham which was basically a glorified truck stop. Sat down to fried rice and tried to decide whether to continue the next 50kms or pull up stumps for the day. A bus pulled in at that time and an Australian guy named Felix came over to say hello. Felix is the famous Mr Pumpy – a regular Asian cyclist who has a website that I used to research this trip – and he advised me to stop for the day. The terrain was incredibly difficult ahead, he suggested, and there were lots of security checks along the road (the guerrilla attacks). I didn’t want to risk getting caught in the dark so booked into a guesthouse (pictured left), had a bucket shower and tried to get warm.

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