We tried to apply lessons learned from previous experiences here by arranging transport the evening before, but after a 20km ride to what we understood to be the bus station, we were told there was nothing going to Nong Khiaw (Khiao). Discouraged, we start riding. We stop to ask a tuk tuk driver for directions and he seems to understand, then runs across the street and flags down a van which would take us on the 120km journey. We and our bikes arrive as promised and we get checked in to a hostel right on the river. It’s absolutely gorgeous here! We certainly took advantage of the hammock on our porch, soaking in the views of the mountains and river before heading to Joy’s for food.
June 19th would have us heading out on a ‘trek’ led by Tiger Trails. We would be visiting the “hundred waterfalls” trail and our journey would begin with a forty-five minute boat ride. We arrive in a small village shared by two tribes where we meet up with our second guide and begin our ‘trek’. The hike up, was mostly flat initially through rice paddies, we took a break and learned that the next section is where leeches would be probable. The hike literally went straight up the waterfall and was absolutely beautiful. We stop at the top for a quick lunch before heading back down.
The hike back down would provide far more leech attacks than the trip up did, they were relentless. We get back and a storm is brewing, we opt to continue back. It’s a drizzly boat ride back with a stop at a cave that served as a hospital during the Vietnam War. After dinner, we popped in for a nightcap at a bar with a very friendly owner that made a wonderful cocktail with Longan.
June 20th would have us on a beautiful 78km ride from Nong Khiaw to Ban Naham. We stopped at a roadside restaurant for a soda and a snack to look at a map and sort out options, as according to our bike computers, we’d already passed the town we were to stop in. While we were chatting through options, we were approached by a gentleman whose English was very good. After a brief conversation, we learned he lived in Connecticut and was back visiting family. While we had indeed passed the town we intended to stay, he was very happy to help direct us to a guesthouse nearby. A short ride later we were checked in and ready to eat! We located dinner from our guesthouse and spent the rest of the evening sitting outside enjoying this quiet town.
When staying at guesthouses in rural Southeast Asia, sometimes what you get is what you get. When we awoke on June 21st, neither Nicole or I had slept well. We jump on the bikes, straight away into a climb, hoping that the restaurant we received direction from the previous evening would be open for breakfast. As luck would have it they were! Two omelette and rice dishes and we’re back to climbing. The terrain eventually mellowed out to a nice rolling, albeit hot, ride into Luang Prabang. Where we find a room and head out for a drink and an amazing Indian dinner.
On June 22nd we took the opportunity to sleep in just a bit before renting a motorbike to head to Kuang Si Falls. The entrance to the falls would lead us past a sun-bear sanctuary, a bunch of fat cuties just lounging about. The falls themselves were beautiful and a popular place to visit for a good reason. We swim for a bit, grab a drink and head back into town. Dinner of the Mexican flavor is unexpected, but quite the treat.