We flew from Chiang Mai into the old royal Laos capital of Luang Prabang.
A roller-coaster ride with the old ATR turbo-prop being flung around in some very big black clouds.
As we descended we could see the terrain we would be riding across, crossing the grain of the country
across cloud covered mountainous terrain, heading east to the Vietnamese border
before heading south to the capital Vientiane.
The twisty roads below, promised a fun time let’s hope the weather will hold off.
Our plan was to ride east towards Vietnam and the Pathet Lao caves in Vieng Xai.
Then head to the plain of Jars and on to Vang Vieng before heading back to the capital, Vientiane.
In town we checked into the Ancient Luang Prabang hotel, a little upscale
at the beginning of the main drag, with WiFi throughout the hotel.
Waiting for us outside our hotel were three Hondas – one XR for myself
with Dad and Thongkhoun, our guide from Green Discovery, on Bajas.
It was quite late so we walked down the main road for a pizza,
just in time to catch the sun setting behind the royal family's temple
before going to bed early – the next day was to be the first of our Laos adventure and a preparation & work-up day.
Breakfast was disappointing, so we went down the road to Jomos, a coffee shop that puts Starbucks to shame.
But the sun was out glinting on the golden stupa above - magical!
And the silver hydra-headed serpent steps were beautiful but strange!
Then we fired the bikes up and headed north out of town up the main road to Pak Ou,
where we found a Hmong village on the banks of the Mekong, entirely devoted to serving tourists.
Here boats from Luang Prabang made an obligatory before going across the Mekong to the Buddha cave.
Where we parked up a stall holder selling lao-lao
rice wine had small shot glasses line up.
Thongkhoun passed me a glass – yukkkh!
He finished mine and his quickly.
Crossing by long-tail we walked up the steps to the Buddha cave.
Inside hundreds of Buddhas of all sizes and some said to be many years old were terraced far back and high in the cave.
It is supposed to bring you merit to bring a little statue and then to visit it on auspicious days every year.
It is also said that the really old ones have become valuable and some have been stolen by collectors.
A beautiful place nonetheless, and despite the gaggle of tourists jostling up and down the steps.
I had thought that riding the bike on the right would be a problem having learnt in Thailand,
but dad was right and I didn’t notice the difference after a short time.
After the mele of riding the Chiang Mai moat at rush hour,
Luang Prabang and Laos were proving to be a pleasure and far less stressful.
Dad had hired Thongkhoun who is probably the best motorcycle guide in Laos
and an awesome off-road rider, as our guide and who would always be riding up ahead of me.
Dad was the tail-gunner.
Tomorrow the ride starts for real!