A Long Day in Luang Prabang

A 78km Bike Ride
Steffen and I woke up at 4:40 and were out of the hotel by 5:00 sharp. We got into town around 5:25 and it was cold. We waited for the monks to come on their 'route', in which they walk by the 'hundreds' and the locals and tourists give them food. I did not give them any food because I think one should work for a their living. We walked down the morning market afterwords, where they had streets and streets of foods and live animals, some pretty freakish ones too. We went back to the hotel for a brief nap and we decided to go on a bike trip. We rented bikes for 20,000 kip (about $2.3 USD) for the day, which was more than the typical $1 USD. We were on the road by 10:45. We were going to the Kuang Si Falls, which our map states about 39 km away (~25 miles). The bikes were shitty since they only had one gear and the curly-type handlebars which are hard to handle. The journey was through the mountain, but we only had to stay on one road the entire time. The roads were SO HILLY it was the toughest workout I have had in a long time. We finally arrived a little over 2 hours later. The waterfall was wonderful and huge. There were some smaller falls that we were able to swim in, in which we did and the water was very cold. We Walked through a bear rescue sanctuary and enjoyed some refreshments.

On our way back my bike started to crap out on me. The axle where the pedals rotated was becoming more and more sloppy. It was getting so bad that I wasn't able to pedal uphill anymore without the pedal working properly. I would have to run along with the bike uphill, which was much more exhausting than one would imagine. I kept this up and after about 19km the bike chain came off the sprocket. Since there was only one gear there was no derailleur which meant the gear had so extra slack. I would need some tools in order to fix this already crappy bike. Steffen and I discussed our options and not 5 minutes later a pair of motorbikes came to our rescue. There were 3 boys and 1 girl, all from Denmark. I had told them that I needed some tools and that all motorbikes should have a built in kit (good thing I know this because they had no idea). I was able to relocate the rear sprocket and fit the chain back in place. This was amazing since those tools they give you for motorbikes are completely lame. I manage to go another 3 or 4 km before the same thing happens. I consider leaving that damn bike there and just jogging alongside Steffen, but that would be 15+ km (~10 miles) and that is just too much. Luckily I am able to flag down a tuk-tuk driver that is taking 4 people back from the waterfalls. You see EVERYBODY takes a van or hired tuk-tuk to and from the waterfalls. Maybe a couple people a week try to bike it, we were the couple this week. The driver loads my bike on top and talked me into town while Steffen rides back using his functioning bike. I discover the 4 people in the tuk-tuk are from London and 2 of the guys are traveling for a year while the other 2 (one guy and one girl) are traveling for only 2 weeks. The 2 guys had just spend 7 weeks in India and they were telling me about it and I got some good pointers. We also discussed how although we all 'enjoyed' Vietnam, that we were MORE than happy to be out of that disgusting place those dirty communists claim to be a 'country'. I get dropped off in the middle of town with my broken bike and the other claim I don't have to pay because they already paid the driver for a trip to and from the waterfall. However I tip the driver 8,000 kip. We stares at me insulted. He says I want more and in my mind I'm thinking of course you do. He says I need to pay him at least 10,000 and I say nope, don't have it, thanks for the ride. Even though I had more money I wont pay him more than that, I mean he only had to stop for 2 minutes and take me to the same place he took them. I then had to walk 25 minutes back to the bike place, drop off the bike and walk across the street to my hotel. I discovered that Steffen arrived only 3 minutes before me, since walking through town game him ample time to catch up. Also I was able to talk my way out of giving the biker rental guy a $20 USD deposit for each bike, which was a damn good thing.

I think tomorrow I will hike up the mountain and see the museum.