Following the Mekong
Trip Start Apr 12, 2010
95Trip End Apr 12, 2011
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Where I stayed
A few kms further north we turned onto a dirt track to the river and skillfully rode the bike onto a very dodgy looking catamaran
Abandoning Frank the next day we pedalled bumpily around the adjoining island to see rapids, old railway lines and no freshwater dolphins as we took another dip in the Mekong. The islands were totally relaxing places; cheap to stay on with many places to sip beer as the Mekong slid by. Every morning the sun rose over the river and streamed into our hut.
We'd hatched a plan with Sam and Gina to do a little trip further north so we spent the next few days trying to keep up with their buses. We beat them to the first destination, Pakse, even though Frank's accelerator cable snapped 8km away. I controlled the engine from the back seat with a pair of pliers on the broken cable, while Matt drove the bike and issued speed up and slow down commands. Yet again Frank dominated our time in a town as we hunted for spares to fix him.
Our next stop was Savannakhet (which Sam and Gina skipped) where we met up (on the road) with a friendly French biker called Jerome. We joined him and his mate later that night and he shared with us his encylopaedic knowledge of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. He had ridden his motorbike everywhere, including our famous little route 66 from Siem Reap in Cambodia! In the dry season he'd said it was pretty bad, so we felt somewhat relieved that others had suffered our pain. He was also looking to buy a Minsk as a second bike, but we were not yet ready to abandon Frank.
The next day we followed Jerome's detailed advice and found a back road along the Mekong all the way to Thakek. Slightly hungover and desparate for breakfast we found a little nook overlooking the water, run by a friendly Lao guy who also ran a Thai massage parlour in town, grew corn, grew onions (across the water in Thailand) and did something to do with a deodorant tree we never got to the bottom of. He fed us sticky rice and dips and coffee. He'd been up all night serving drinks to some customers till 6am and refused to charge us for the refreshments! It was a perfect spot and all thanks to our Frank-Jerome connection!
In Thakek we buzzed round town and found Gina and Sam scoffing on some spicy pad thai. Back at the guest house HQ, the maps came out and we began planning the next adventure with them....