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  • Writer's pictureDonna Kitchen

Bolaven Plateau Loop - Four wheels become three

If you haven't read day 1 and 2 of the Bolaven Plateau Loop, I suggest you do that now.


The alarm was set for an early start. 7am for a 7:30am go time.  Our morning pack up routine was now down pat.  I feel like I forgot to mention that we had left our big bag pack at the hotel in Vientiane.  Our smaller backpack had to include clothes etc for the 10 days we would be away down in southern Laos allowing for different conditions and places we may visit.  Long pants or long skirt was a must for visiting temples as females are required to cover their shoulders and knees.   Checking the weather outlook we also knew that we would need to cover up from the sun and heat.


The cool towels we purchased before leaving home were in our kit and would end up being a lifesaver.



Reviewing the map last night we knew we would be heading into the mountains which would bring a cool relief as well as change of scenery.    A grilling 94km’s was ahead of us as well.  In the briefing from Ms Noy’s it was mentioned that there would be some rough roads on this section of the route.



Leaving early, there was still a touch of freshness in the air.  Don’t get me wrong, it was already hot.  Breakfast was going to be maybe a pastry or baguette we picked up along the way. Stopping at a shop we were hoping for something like mentioned plus plenty of cold water.  There was plenty hanging up that we could choose from.  In the end we just grabbed our cold water and made tracks as quick as we could.


Rats or squirrel for breakfast?


Looks like breakfast would be the sweet banana’s that were grown by the man at the guesthouse along with some dry biscuits I had brought along for snacks.  The squirrel and rats really did not whet our appetite in the least.  So many questions to be answered here.  The first thing was, did they really eat these? Who caught them? How long had they been hanging in the sun?


As we rode off I could easily imagine dueling banjos playing.


Heading into the mountains


Happily riding to the mountains we embraced the quietness of the area, there was very minimal traffic now but the road was beginning to deteriorate.  This must be the section we were warned about.  Our speed was now reduced to about 20-25kph as to dodge potholes and loose gravel.  There was a slight improvement in the lushness of the vegetation and only imagining how gorgeous this area would be once the rains came.


Stunning landscape


Pottering along slowly my mind became aware of a drifting feeling from the rear of the bike as I rode.  I didn’t think much of it, only that I didn’t notice it the days prior but maybe it has something to do with the gravel on the road.  That would definitely give you that drifting sensation. Right?


Watching the road and the scenery this nagging feeling stayed with me.  All of a sudden the light went on in my mind, ‘this could be a flat tyre making the rear drift’.  Finally I gave in to it and stopped, got the bike, bent down and for sure, there it was.  My rear tyre had a puncture and was flat.


As Kevin was ahead of me at this point, he made a u-turn and came back. I broke the news to him.  I’m all honesty, I was surprised he took this news so well.



We were on the most isolated section of the

loop, the terrain was now mountainous and even though it was about 10am, the heat was building.   The only solution was to push the bike to the next ban (village).


The plan was to take turns pushing the bike, Kevin went first.  Riding ahead as I could see a fruit shop ahead of us.  They spoke no English so again, the charades started, miming flat tyre on motor bike.  They pointed up the road and holding 3 fingers in the air.  Okay, that I understand.  Breaking the ‘good’ news to Kevin that we only had to push the bike 3kms all up hill in 40degree heat.


I rode ahead to find the tyre repair shop 3kms away to check that they could indeed fix a puncture or replace the inner tube.  Again with my expert miming, with lots of pointing to my (Kevin’s bike) to ensure that had an inner tube to fit a Honda Click.  All indicators showed that they did indeed have the correct tube.  Yay, perfect.  Next question.  Do they have the means to be able to pick up the bike and bring it to the shop.  Lots of head shaking.  So that’s a definite no!   


I must say that at this shop there were about 8 people hanging around and I had no idea if I was talking to the owner of the shop or just a customer or one of the four teenagers lazing about.


Riding off I could feel all sets of eyes on me.  They must be wondering who they crazy, ‘Notsogreytraveller’ was.   


Kevin doing an astounding job


Entering the little village


I putt along with Kev doing my best to keep he’s morale up.  Reaching the top of the hill we finally arrive at the ‘mechanic’.   Unfortunately the news was not good as my previous charades act did not work as they did not have the correct inner tube.  An air compressor confirmed that there was a puncture but the tyre should stay up for a part of the next 8km’s to the next town.  At this point we decided to go for broke and gun it and travelling as far as we could on the inflated tyre before the air ran out.  I’ve never seen Kevin ride the bike so fast here before.  After a couple of kilometres the tyre was again flat.


To cut a very long story short, we eventually reach this town, 8kms away, pulling into the first mechanic we could find.  Yes! We would fix it for us.  Fantastic!   I have to applaud Kevin at this point as he held he’s shit together, not complaining once, he just kept going through the worst of conditions. I, was almost in tears but couldn’t afford to breakdown as Kevin didn’t need me to deal with as well.


Kevin absolutely spent


While the guy started pulling the wheel of the bike, I went to the little shop next door for some cold Bia Laos’ and some water.  It was still hot so I thought the mechanic deserved some cold water as well.


Our lifesaver


He called Kevin over to show him what had caused the puncture. It was a tiny little piece of metal wire that had peeled from a shredded truck tyre.  Apparently this is quite common.  Great.


We were elated to have the tyre fixed and able to continue on.


Time to pay!   We already knew 40,000 - 50,000kip should be the going price.  With 50,000kip ready to pay, he announced it was in fact 400,000kip (34AUD).  Oh, our mistake. 40,000kip must be for a puncture repair not the fitting of a brand new tube.  Fair enough.  At this point we would have paid 400AUD. With a nagging feeling that we'd been ripped off, we considered it a good outcome for all involved. By the way, it should have only cost us 40.000kip!


Two hours after noticing the puncture we were on the road again.  It was still very hot but our aim now was to get to tonight’s accommodation which was already booked.


Lunch stop


We did stop for lunch in Paksong though at about 1pm more to give ourselves a break and to rehydrate.


Well used menu


After lunch, we were left with about 20km’s to go.  Yes, we could do that.


The scenery for those last 20kms was very different from what we’ve been used to.  It was greener, lots of fresh fruit being sold on the roadside.  The air was even cooler, thank goodness.  This was the Saibadee Valley, Champasak district which is renowned for it fruit growing and coffee plantations.  If we weren’t so intent on reaching our final destination we may have stopped and checked out some of the amazing fruits.  Driving by, you could smell the sweetness of the pineapples.


The main reason for being in this area was the waterfalls.  There are four major ones but they will have to wait until tomorrow.


Checking in to Saibadee Valley Resort we felt like we were the only ones there. This place reminded me much of some of the resorts we had stayed in while in Bali and Lombok with their bungalow style accomodation. What we were hankering most of all was a swim in the infinity pool that looked over the valley.  The water temperature had a slight chill to it which was a very welcomed change.  Lazing here until dusk, it was difficult to pull ourselves away but we were exhausted and needed dinner before our heads hit the pillow.


Saibadee Valley Resort


We wanted adventure and we got it.  At the time we had no idea how we would get through this one but with amazing teamwork, we succeeded.  Now we have an exciting travel adventure story to tell.


XOXO

Donna & Kevin.

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Guest
May 27, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Amazing couple/story, with you all the way in spirit 💕

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ctholdykl
May 20, 2023

I was exhausted just reading about. But you are having a wonderful adventure

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