Thursday, April 26, 2007

Day 19: Vang Vieng - Na Nam

“Almost flat”

Penultimate day of the trip and got off to a late start after sleeping well. After muesli breakfast in town I was on the road by 9am. Felt extremely sluggish for the first 60kms where I stopped for lunch (laap soup at a truck stop) for the bargain price of 70 cents. The scenery turned from spectacular to mundane the further I got from Vang Vieng. There was not a genuine climb for the whole ride, but lots of short hills that reminded me of the approach to Kinglake.

The legs obviously hadn’t recovered from the effort of a couple of days ago, but with some food on board I started to feel stronger. I decided that rather than going directly to Vientiane I would take a detour out to the Na Nam dam and lake. The town had been recommended, and I was also keen to prolong the ride as long as I could and put some more distance between me and a return to work.

Once I turned off the main road the traffic thinned and road surface deteriorated. The road was lined by town after little town, with the mountains now far off in the distance behind me. The guidebook I’d been using was really misleading and I ended up doing 15kms more than I should have. I ended up lost in some twilight zone backwater that had a Twin Peaks feel about it. Lots of people were dancing in the streets and front yards, and I saw a succession of strange people including a cycling midget, old lady that looked like she was going to take an hour to cross the road and a young kid with grey hair. Once on the right track I pedalled over the steep hill to the town of Na Nam – a fishing village with one guesthouse. The only tourists here are local, and the guesthouse is great.

Sitting on a floating restaurant on the lake enjoying a magnificent whole fish with garlic and chilli. As the only white person in town I’m coming in for some attention, and have had a lady boy and young girl both making eyes at me. The music in this restaurant is appalling, and about 10 decibels beyond the range of the speaker system. I’m quietly contemplating my final day of cycling tomorrow. A very sad day in many ways and having met a few people on multi-month trips I feel a little cheated. The memories of pain dissipate so quickly.

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