Woke up with a bit of a headache the next morning, but a good cup of coffee and a chocolate croissant at JOMA Bakery sorted me out!
Seemed most everyone else was sleeping in today, but I wanted to get out and RIDE!!
Waiting for the ferry that would take me across the Mekong to explore some trails west of Luang Prabang- Here it comes!
There’s no pavement on the west side of the Mekong- awesome trails straight off the ferry!
Here’s a map of today’s ride:
And a .gpx track for any who might want to explore this area: http://www.asianconnection71.com/2014-02-24%2010.09.08%20Day.gpx
On Google Earth it looks like there are some trails that might get you to the Pak Ou cave that’s on the Mekong north of Luang Prabang, but as with last year, I couldn’t find a way through… What look like trails on Google Earth are more often than not little footpaths that are pretty much impassable by bike, especially when riding solo…
Seemed I might be able to get there via the trail that heads northwest out of Ban Houy Mad-
But getting across the small stream that runs past the town wasn’t so easy… The drop off this board is higher than it looks in the picture. If I dropped my bike here I’d have a heck of a time getting it out…
Fantastic trails, but a lot of work!
As an aside, can anyone tell me what a “Free Case Village” is? See these signs a lot in Laos but no clue what they mean…
Another trail where I turned around because I wasn’t confident I could get up the opposite bank-
Leaving the tiny village of Ban Houay Maad-
Turned around and tried a different way around, but came up against a barb wire fence and an unfriendly looking sign…
Darn… once again can’t find a way through to Pak Ou… I’ll try again soon!
It was here I discovered this amazing caterpillar trying to crawl into my ear
Caterpillar or alien? Take me to your leader!
Wonder what this guy will turn into? There were tons of butterflies in the cool shady spots-
A bit hazy but still some amazing views!
I continued the loop and soon found myself heading south. Just past the riverside town of Pak Long the road heads inland but I spotted a small logging trail and followed that back to the Mekong-
This was a lot of fun, some tiny little villages and a whole lot of wilderness. Seems there’s a ferry that will take you across here and drops you near the road to the Kouang Xi Waterfall on the other side of the Mekong-
A bit further south I again rode out to the shore of the river- nice sandy beach and no one around, stopped here for a picnic lunch and a bit of a siesta under some shady trees a bit further up the bank-
A bit further south and I decided I’d better start heading back as we were to load the bikes onto the boat at 5 this evening for the next day’s cruise to Pak Lay. I headed inland on a fantastic trail that followed a beautiful river-
Lots of rapids and whitewater but hard to get a clear view-
Other than passing through the occasional tiny village I had these trails all to myself
Some fantastic views when the trail would climb over some of the hills and follow the ridgelines-
Finally back onto the “main” road, which was still rough as guts and had a lot of water crossings-
Got back into Luang Prabang with just enough time to get out of my gear, repack, and then ride down to the ferry dock were we loaded our bikes onto the boat for the cruise to Pak Lay-
This is a much nicer boat- it’s the same one we used last year, and due to a scheduling conflict they hadn’t been able to take us on the first leg from Houay Xai, but I was happy we’d be cruising with them to Pak Lay
There goes our boat and our bikes! See you tomorrow!
Sunset beers with the boys once again! Are those barber shop chairs??!?
Another gorgeous Mekong sunset- never get tired of these!!
Tomorrow we cruise to Pak Lay!