EBC 3. The last few days. 

April 26. Day 12. Gorak Shep to Kala Patthar (5545 m/18,192 ft), then to Dzongla (4830m/15,850 ft). 13k

Slept well which was a result. Altitude really wears you down. Coughing still but not too bad. 

Woke at 6am. Couldn’t sleep anymore so packed and sat in dining area with a coffee waiting for Kewal to arrive. 

There is no running water at this tea house. Buckets outside had frozen solid so couldn’t use them. Cleaned face and teeth with some of the water I had left in my bottle. 

Set off to climb Kalapather for a better view of Everest. Half way up I asked kewael if the view gets any better? He said no not really. So I said ok well that will do then! I can’t be bothered to climb another hour or more, let’s get back, pack and set off for Dzongla which is still a 3hr trek away.   Good plan.   Arrived at 3pm. Tomorrow is another long day. 

April 27. Day 13. Dzongla, to Gokyo (4800m/15,580 ft) via Cho La pass (5368m/17,611 ft): 6km, 7 – 8hrs. 

Alarm went off at 5 and we left at 6. Everything was frozen. Broke the ice in bucket this morning to wash face and clean teeth.  There is something confusing and wrong about rubbing frozen sunscreen onto your face in the morning.  Set off up the valley and climbed steep for an hour and a half until we reached the glacier. Everything was frozen and covered with a dusting of frost.  We continue to climb on glacier up to the Chola pass. 5400 meter almost 18000 feet. 

Then dropped down a loose rock decent covered with ice. A little sketchy but we took it steady. We continue down for a few more hours until we reached Thangnk where we had lunch. From there it was a few hours to Gokyo across a glacier. Njaungba glacier. The longest in the world. It was wide enough too! Took a while to cross. 

Gokyo is a very small village as all are here in the mountains, on the edge of a lake fed by a glacier. Turquoise in colour.   Staying 2 nights. 

April 28. Day 14. Rest day in Gokyo: Climb Gokyo Ri (5357m/17,575 ft). 
Slept very well I must be well acclimatised now. 

Today we climbed Gokyo Ri. 5460 meters to see the best view in the world. Unfortunately it was a little cloudy when we reached the top. That seems to be the pattern at the moment. Clear in morning then cloud creeps in during afternoon. Still got an amazing view and really made you feel you were on top of the world. 

Chilled the rest of the day. Not too much to do in these small villages.


April 29. Day 15. Gokyo to Thame. 

We are trying to jump a day today by walking two days in one. 

Climbed from the lake in Gokyo up and over the Renjo pass at about 5500 meters.   I found it hard going. Tired I guess. I’ve been walking an average 5 hours a day for 15 days now. Great view of Everest from here. The best yet. 

Then a long walk down valley. Each time I asked Kewael said the accommodation was just round the corner.  He said that at least three times :-)).  

As we descended it got warmer and there were trees growing now. 

The guy who owned the lodge we stay at tonight was showing me pictures of a Gurkha who had climbed Everest 21 times! Took me a minute to realise it was his brother. There were some cool pictures. 

He was here filming a documentary about his life. He had returned for two weeks from America where he now lives. What luck. That night I drank ginger tea with him and learnt about how he was now helping with local schools to improve standards in education and general welfare of the children. Very lucky to meet him. 

April 30. Day 16 Thame to Namche. 

Back in Namche again. Compleated The full loop. Just a few days back to Lukla now.  Watched a film in the pub with Popcorn while Kewal slept. He was tired too. 

May 1. Day 17. Namche to phading. 
Very Short day. Raining so the waterproof came out. 

One thing I haven’t mentioned is the Earthquake from 2015. 

There are still signs of the destruction everywhere. I saw many houses in the mountains now uninhabitable and also in Kathmandu buildings still held up by big beams of wood propped against the outer walls. 

The earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people with a magnitude of 8.1Ms. 

May 2. Day 18. Phading to Lukla. 

Easy day, mainly Descending. Soaked up the sun. Couple of extra coffee stops.   Good to arrive and complete the journey.   Had a few celebratory beers. 

May 3. Day 19. Lukla. Flight back to Kathmandu. 
Interesting runway at Lukla. 500 meters long and very much pointing down hill.!

The propeller plane just drops off the end for a 30min flight back to Kathmandu. 
I had an amazing guide – Kewal did a good job of looking after me. 

In the last year or so I have seen some amazing places and met some equally amazing people. 
Hope you all enjoyed the online diaries. 

There might just be one more blog. Maybe?  

Hope to see you on the trail.!
P.S. I’ll be looking for a job when I’m back.  :-(. If anyone has any ideas. 


EBC. 2. Getting to base camp. 

April 21. Day 7. Namche Bazaar to Tengboche (3,870m/12,694ft): 10km, 5 hours.
After initial small climb and a traverse around the mountain side we then dropped down to the river before crossing another cable suspended bridge called ‘Hillary’s Bridge’. One of the highest so far. We climbed to Tehgbuche where we saw a famous Buddha monastery and had lunch. Twice a year people from all the Mtn come for big religious ceremony at this monastery. 

I fancied pushing a bit up the climb and went well with little effect from the altitude. All this steady trekking is great but I needed to work up a little sweat.  I sunbathed at the top for almost 40 min until Kewal my guide met me. 
After lunch we dropped down about 20min and booked into a tea house for the night. Within 15min it was hailing and covered the higher peaks with fresh snow. It was nice to be watching it through the window and drinking fresh ginger tea. 

I met an Aussie guy at this hut and ended up meeting him when I got back to Kathmandu for a couple of good nights out. 

April 22. Day 8. Tengboche to Dingboche (4,360 m/14,300 ft): 9km, 5 hrs. 
Woke to sun and walked up the valley following the river. Got a great view of Everest. I was now near the top of the khomong sacred valley. We went right where the valley split to Dingboche, 4300 meters, 14200 feet where we were staying for 2 nights with a trek up to a summit tomorrow for more acclimatisation. 
The Donkeys had by now been replaced by Yak’s. 

Donkeys go to Namche after there Yak and man power take over with porters carrying up to 100kg of supplies for the 850 people a day at peak season that trek to base camp and surrounding peaks.! Imagine the food and Fuel etc that many people need Especially with a big appetite after a hard days hike. Now you can begin to see how many animals and porters are using the trails every day. 

The room tonight was freezing. Actually went to bed with jacket hat and bloody gloves on. 

Had a shit night sleep due to blocked nose. Dry, cold and dusty air at this altitude gives everyone a cough here. The ‘Everest’ cough. The tea huts can be like a doctors waiting room with everyone coughing and sniffling trying to deal with the altitude. 

Apart from the nose tonight I’m one of the few without it. Yet……

April 23. Day 9. Acclimation -Dingboche. 
Woke to fog, rain and on higher ground snow.  The weather has not been the best so far, especially as it’s mid season and meant to be good. 

Climbed Khumjung. Where there were supposed to be the best view of Everest, unfortunate it didn’t clear so couldn’t see much more than 100feet. 

Still got to 5200 meters. 17200 feet. The highest I have ever hiked. 

Relaxed the rest of the day in the tea house as the weather refused to get any better. 

Bed at the usual 8-9pm ish. 

Stars are out so let’s hope that it is clear tomorrow. Stars are amazing here as you can imagine. 

April 24. Day 10. Dingboche to Lobuche (4940 m/16,207 ft): 5-6 hours. 
Weather much better today. Got some great views and pics. 

Went over the Thukla pass. At the top there are lots of stone memorials to remember climbers and Sherpa’s that have died climbing. 
Weather was looking really good for tomorrow. Base camp day!  Met Benjamin and Tommy the German guys it the tea house and ate with them.

April 25. Day 11. Summit day. (Well base camp day – 5,364 m/17,594 ft).

Lobuche to Gorak Shep (5,170 m/16,961ft), : 13km, 6hrs. 

Up 6:15 after terrible night sleep. When you fall asleep at this height your breathing naturally slows then your brain suddenly realises you need more oxygen so you wake up gasping. Kind of like having a dream you are drowning and waking up trying hard to breathe. I Headache and a bit of a cough in the morning Looks like the altitude may have started to get me. 

I washed some clothes the night before and hung them to dry in my room. I knew they wouldn’t dry but will hang them on top of rucksack tomorrow. In the morning I went to take them off the hanger and they were frozen solid 🙂 

Weather is crystal today. 

Started steadily up following the valley to lunch at Gorakshep. This is also where I would be staying that night so dumped bag and took a small sack and hiked to base camp. Saw the Germans for the last time as we left. Waved to them from a distance as they headed out on a different path. 

Base camp was great to see and a big part of the trek. Something I have always thought of doing. 

Quite a long day and was tired after the crap night sleep when I arrived back at the tea house. 

Everest base camp trek. 1

April 15. Everest Base camp, 1st day hiking.  Salleri to Nunthala. 7 hours

After the jeep ride we discussed the following days itinerary. 

I wanted rain as it was very hazy and therefore poor visibility. Said to Kewal, my guide it would be great if it rained during the night but was sunny in morning. He said it had not rained for sometime so you’ll be lucky. 

Went to Bed about 7pm as I had been up early and the jeep ride had been long. I didn’t mean to though. I planned to call Home but first thought I would charged my phone and have a quick lay down on the bed…….. Woke up at 10:30pm to hear thunder and rain! 
Alarm went off at 6:40am. It was still trying to rain but held off. We had a few little showers during the day. 

Kewael and I laughed at our luck about the rain. It was clearer but also cooler. 

We climbed most of the day along a wide track through the forest.  

The first high pass we reached was 2800 meter, 9200 feet. 

We then descend 700 meters ( 2300 feet) to our lodgings. 

A small room and bed. No blankets or Curtains so had to get the sleeping bag out. 

No towel soap or toilet paper either. You’re expected to have this. 

Food was great and portion size was always enough. 

April 16. Day2. Nunthala to Bupsa. 6 hours. 

Hot and sunny today. 

Saw lots of Donkeys ferrying gas and food etc up and down the mountain. It was interesting at first but you soon realised that this was constant as it was the only way to get supplies to the villages further up. It would sometimes slow your progress due to 1.. keeping bank side of them whilst 10 or 20 at a time passed so they wouldn’t knock you over the edge. 2.. having to follow them downhill when they were tired at the end of the day. 

The days were big long days but at a steady pace and the scenery took your mind off the pack on your back. 

I did start to get Knee pain on the down hill sections. An old cycling injury. Stretching and Ibuprofen are going to be a priority for a few days. 

Met two German guys tonight at the tea house tonight. They are doing base camp also but a slightly different route. 

April 17. Day 3. Bupsa to Surkey. 5 hours. 

Great weather again. 

Lots of donkeys. Lost some time as we really got caught up with them today. Stayed in the bottom of a valley about an hour away from our original planned destination. 

Knee held out. 

Got to 3100 meters today. Almost 10300 feet. 

We reached the tea house an hour early today so some nice recovery time. We have a little more to do tomorrow now but I know it will be fine as the hiking is a steady pace. 

April 18. Day 4. Surkey to Monjo 6 hours. 

Made up the time we lost yesterday. A good days walk. 

At the tea houses in the evening there is not much to do. People play cards or read and generally go to bed about 8pm. 

I have been drinking Ginger tea every evening and catching up with people trekking the same way that you bump into at different points on the trail. 

Started calling Kewal ‘Mr safety’. He worries about me too much. A few times today he got a bit panicked about how close to the edge I got. 

I had to have a chat with him. 

My definition of safety. – lack of excitement. 

April 19. Day 5. Monjo to Namche. 

After the village of Jorsalle which was only about a half hour hike there was no where to eat or drink. So had to push on to Namche 

Got there for lunch.

Visited a museum and a traditional Sherpas house. 

Namche is quite a big place in comparison to other villages. Hotels. shops. Pubs. Coffee shops etc. You also get good phone reception ! 

Namche is 3450 meters almost 11400 feet. 

Met the German guys here again. Last stop for a couple of beers as above this height you should really try to abstain. 

April 20. Day 6. Acclimatization at Namche Bazaar: (3,440m/11,284ft)

Later breakfast today.  Acclimatisation day trip up a 500m (1500 feet) climb to Everest View Hotel where I saw my first glimpse of Everest and the surrounding mountains. I can only really feel the altitude if I run up hill or do anything seriously cardiovascular just walking and I seem to be fine. Met the Germans for a beer again and also saw a few familiar faces on the trail.

There were lots of people on the trail now. Literally hundreds. Once we passed Lukla which is where most people fly to start their trek. 

Travel to Everest base camp trail head. 14th April.

After being in Kathmandu for a few days to get my bearings I booked a couple of treks. One to Everest base camp and the other to Annapurna base camp.  Sarah is meeting for Annapurna and I can’t wait to show her around.  In between the two treks I’m going to get back on bike and do a loop to Pokhara and back.  Kathmandu is not somewhere I can stay too long in without getting restless.  

Everest Base Camp. (EBC). 

Alarm went off at 4am. Bit of a shocker. I left my bike and non trekking gear in a box in the hotel. All hotels store kit for people whilst they are away trekking. 
My guide – Kewal met me in the taxi and we drove to get the jeep that would take us the 9 hours to EBC trail head. Well we almost drove all the way….  Taxi started making a banging noise and pulled over. In a minute or so there were 3-4 guys plus the driver hitting the engine with a rock. I just sat in back half asleep. 

It was 4:40am, dark and of course dusty. Kathmandu is dusty!!  Un-finished roads and recent water piping they have installed (and not finished) causes clouds of dust when traffic passes. The traffic doesn’t pass too fast though as the road seems to be as much for the pedestrian as the motor vehicle. There are no pavements. 
Eventually we just drove until the knocking disappeared. On arrival I quickly discovered that the jeep was in a similar state as the taxi. Broken windshield. Bald tyres (bald, bulging and coming away from carcass). It general just looked a bit fucked. :-). 

Worse still was that there 10 people traveling in it ! I managed to squeeze in the back and I mean squeeze. This is going to be an interesting 9 hour drive !!

It didn’t take much longer to realise how bad it was actually going to be.  The problem was not due to the squeeze or the battered jeep driving on the edge of a bloody cliff, off road in thick dust and rock with totally bald tyres but the people in it ! 

The guy directly in front of me had the window right down which was a little cold but nothing serious. Someone asked him to shut it and it was explained that he gets travel sick so needs the window open. Him and his girlfriend were puking into little bags pretty much all the way and throwing them out the window. The guy to the right of me was chewing at least three pieces of gum with his mouth wide open and in front of me to my right there was another guy reading book to his girlfriend. At loud!  10 people in a jeep and he was reading out loud enough for people outside the bloody car to hear…….    And I thought the altitude might be the problem 🙂 
Just as I was either going to say something, or just get out of the jeep while it was still moving the guy stopped reading. Thankfully he had put the couple puking to sleep and the guy chewing gum had either chocked on it, as I didn’t see him get rid of it, or had fallen under the storytellers spell as well.  

Kewal. My guide to my right. He looks happy with the situation too.

Ahhhhh, I could relax and enjoy the view for a bit. 
Rhododendron bushes covered the hill side. Red, white and pink. This is their national flower and was found at all heights on the mountain. 

I saw 2 Busses wrecked off the side of road which showed what could happen. 

It was still dusty and gave poor visibility over distances due to a haze in air. 
A highlight of the trip was going round a sharp corner and the drivers door swinging fully open. I actually laughed out loud. 
We finally arrived at the first tea house of the trip. 

Everest hotel. 

Tomorrow we walk. 

Chiang Mai.

31 March. RestWoke to terrible news today. One of my best friends father passed away suddenly, I have known him since I was 8 years old,  a few minutes later I heard Mike Hall had been involved in an accident and died during a race across Australia. (I had heard a lot about Mike through people I had ridden with in Vietnam for the newborn charity. He had led a group the year before I did and was one of the best long distance cyclists in the world). A shitty start to the day. 

I was feeling tired anyway so just had another day at my hotel. 

April 1. Lampang to Chiang Mai.  120k. 

Last day on the road although I plan to do a bit of riding in Chiang Mai when I’m there and without the bags!. Should be nice. I want to do the Doi Inthanon climb, over 7900 feet. The biggest peak in Thailand. 

Today I managed to find an off road route for some of the way and got a little lost in the forest which was ok actually. 

I also met a fellow tourer named Sarah, heading the same way as me. She was alone too. Fair play.  I had a bit of a chat then left for the last section into Chiang Mai.  

I had arranged to meet an old friend of mine, Rob at a bar he manages. It was great to catch up and get some local information. Enjoyed a few beers with him. The first in over two weeks. 

Rob introduced me to a local Mountain bike guide called Naksit. A really cool guy who runs kayak and MTB tours from ‘Chiang Mai Mountain Biking & Kayaks’. He took me out to Doi Suthep – Pui National Park. We drove to the top – over 4000 feet up and rode down through coffee, lychee and strawberry plantations. Had lunch by a lake and got a lift back to hotel. What a great day out. 

Naksit in a strawberry plantation. 

Collected a bike box to pack the bike for Nepal. Had to cycle through Chiang Mai with it strapped to my rack which was fun. 

Chiang Mai is quite a big city with everything you may need. It has a western influence and full of tourists. They generally head up to Pai for more partying. 

Great coffee shops, bike shops with some high end gear stocked. All the usual chains. Mc Donald’s, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, KFC etc.
I rode managed to ride the Doi Suthep Climb. It was bloody tough. I suffered quite a lot.  Think I was a little under the weather.  I actually seriously thought briefly,  about laying down on the road at one point.  The climb is immense. Almost 8000 feet above sea level. Took me 3 hours.  As I left late it started to get dark on the way back so I stopped at a trusty 7-eleven and asked if there was a number I could call for a taxi. The girl said no. A couple heard the conversation and offered me a lift back in their pick up. Result !  

Booked flight back to Bangkok Saturday for 1 night then Sunday to Nepal where I will meet Sarah and hike the Annapurna circuit. 

Bike packing and a massage tomorrow. Next post from Kathmandu, Nepal. 

Final few days to Chiang Mai. 28-29-30 March. 

March 28. Kaeng Sopha to Nam Ang. 120k. Set off late. Enjoyed a couple of capuchinos. Decided to turn off the main road early on to a back road which climbed through the hills and around a big lake before rejoining the main road about 110 km further up. The tarmac was perfect again as all of the roads seem to be in Thailand, great for bicycle touring. As soon as I turned off the main road he started to climb steep and it was very hot. I saw the hottest temperature I’ve ever recorded on my Garman today 44.5°. I began asking myself what exactly was the problem with the main road.!!?? This small road was turned out to be perfect,  very quiet and beautiful. I really enjoy the riding today. 

March 29. Nam Ang to Ban Den Chai. 74k. 

I have got into the habit of banging my shoes together and emptying out whatever may be inside. It’s something you do in the jungle and it’s worth doing here. This morning a Gecko lizard dropped out. Gave me a little shock. Would have been messy if I had just stuffed my foot straight into the shoe. 

Had an easy ride. Good speed. Almost 28k ave. there was one big climb that I enjoyed. 

Stopped at a 7- eleven store (these are a great rest spot. Always air conditioned with all sorts of goodies to eat and drink. They are everywhere).  

While resting I saw a Monk in his orange robes and leather sandals sitting out side. It made me smile when he pulled an iPad and a packet of cigarettes out of his robe, lit up and I’m guessing, checked his Facebook. :-).  

Tonight’s Hotel is nice, more of a hut in the woods. The resort itself had a theme park feel to it. Interesting. 

30 march. Ban Den Chai to Lampang. 85k. 

Felt tired today. Just went through the motions. Not much to report. 

Saw a couple that had two dogs broken down by the side of the road.  The rear wheel was off the car. I stopped to offer them water as they were trying to shelter from the 38° sun under a withered sapling. They gratefully took it so I guess they needed it.  That only left me with half a bottle but I thought I could make the 14k to town.   It’s only as I took the last mouthful that I began to think of what could happen if my bike broke and I was stuck for any length of time.  Funny how a feeling of concern instantly creeps in once your last mouthful of water has gone, especially in 38° heat when no one is really about.  I made it to store and as soon as I got water plus a spare I always carry The feeling disappeared immediately. 

Went for all you can eat BBQ that you cook yourself. Stuffed myself. That’s the best thing about all this riding – the eating !!   There was salad, every kind of meat, fish, sushi, fruit, ice cream and free soft drink for about £8. 400baht. 

Something I laughed at way back before I left Hoi An was this weight training bench outside some guys house.  I thought this was great. 

Lynskey – The beautiful machine.   March 27.  I love my bike.

March 27. Day off. 

Wow, it’s weird having a day off after 12 days riding everyday. I guess that’s made a little harder as this morning it’s raining so I’m twiddling my thumbs a bit. 

I slept for almost 12 hours!! Must have needed it. 

Checked into new hotel 800 meters down the road with WIFI.  A third cheaper and as far as I can tell much better. FYI – It’s called My Resort. 

Had a wonder to that waterfall I mentioned in my last blog. 

In the afternoon I cleaned my bike in the shower. 

Actually the bike has been pretty faultless the whole trip. 

The bike:

I’m lucky enough not to have had any ‘serious’ mechanicals, early on I had the rear tire rip after riding over a screw,  I patched it with a special tire patch on the inside of the tire and hoped it would last. 

After about 1000km the grit eventually wore through the patch and punctured my tube. The only puncture of the trip so far. I changed the tire when I fixed the puncture as it was almost worn out. 

I have also worn out a chain and cassette which is expected I guess. 

For the mountain bike race in Sapa I change the handlebars and rigid forks to suspension forks which meant I needed a new front wheel to marry up with the fork as it had a different axle. I ended up leaving my old forks, handlebars, front rack and both front panniers at home when I went back for Christmas I just didn’t need that much space. You learn as you go. I left the suspension forks and flat bars on for the rest of the tour. 

I also had my right hand shifter stick a little bit and used a mosquito spray which was citrus-based to dissolve some of the grease inside the shifter to make it smoother, it solved the problem a treat. 

Early on in my trip (about a month), my seatpost seized it took 3 guys and me about 45 min to get it out. I sanded the post, inside of the frame and put plenty of grease on it and since then I haven’t had an issue. Also had a small creak in the bottom bracket so I took it to a local guy who re-greased it for me and it’s been fine since. 


Oh yeah,  I forgot until I looked through some pictures.  Some kid knocked over my bike and shattered the brake lever. Well I’m blaming a kid anyway but I didn’t actually see :-). 

It sounds a lot when you write it down but really that’s nothing in a year of riding.  I’ve been lucky. 

After the bike and I showered we went for dinner about 2k down the road. T bone steak with an imported beer. Day off treat. 

Road to Chiang Mai – two national parks in two days. 25-26 March.

March 25. Chum Phae to Lom Sak. 120k. Sun was shining as I started off. About 30k of flat ish road before I hit Nammnao National Park. There were rangers on entry and exit to this area checking cars through. The road was much quieter although there was a steady flow of traffic. The climb started immediately as well as the rain. It rained a couple of times as I rode through the park but never got really wet. I climbed 4500feet. The first real climbing in 4 days. I hit my fastest speed in the last 12 months on the decent. On a mountain bike, loaded with panniers and on hybrid type tyres (WTB Nano tyres). 50mph !  

The Park road is about 65k long and there are NO shops or water stops. It’s all just jungle. There were signs warning about Elephants crossing the road but unfortunately I didn’t see any. 

As soon as I exited the park I stopped at a restaurant on the right. It was very nice and the couple even sent me off for a shower with a towel when they saw me dripping with sweat. After lunch it was 30k mostly down to Lom Sak. 

Lom Sak is quite a big place. I walked to ‘Walking St’ no vehicles allowed and wondered along the street sampling the street food. I stuffed myself mainly on meat. I needed the protein. 

March 26. Lom Sak to Kaeng Sopha. 85k.  Started late, 11am. 

Another big climb through another National Park.  It rained at the top and this time got quite wet. It was still 24 degrees though so actually perfect for the climb. Everyone that drives by, especially the motorcycle riders give me the thumbs up as they shoot by. The lorry drivers give a little toot and a hand comes out of the window, again with the thumbs up. The sun came out once I had ridden over the mountain pass the rest of the day was lovely.  I stopped for some food at an area that was very touristy but looked fun. There were model transformer robots, an old US style school bus and some souvenir shops. After this it was mostly down, along the river to a posh hotel that unfortunately had no Wi-Fi in the room so tomorrow I will move hotels. I booked two nights because I wanted a rest day so they might be surprised. No wifi in an expensive hotel is un-expectable. How will I see all the people liking my Instagram pictures :-))) .  

I tried a bit of off road today too but the rain had made it super slippery and I almost crashed a few times.  Not really ideal riding thin hard tyres with a fully loaded bike off road :-))).   I was trying to get to a waterfall about 1k into the forest.  I decided to give it a miss.   Anyway there is a waterfall near my next hotel so I’ll just look at that. (Not that bothered) ;-). 

The road to Chiang Mai 18,19,20 March 2017.

Saturday 18th of March 19k recovery day.  Perfect day for a recovery mostly downhill. Booked into a nice hotel about 3 km from the Laos border and chilled out. Tomorrow I will cross the border into Laos and hopefully find somewhere to stay.  I can’t actually see any lodgings along the road I’m travelling but I’m more than sure there will be, if not I’ll be sleeping on the side of the road or knocking on a local door!

Sunday 19 March. 95k Thi Thran (Laos Border) to Xethamouk. I left Vietnam and rode through border control. It cost 40 dollars to cross border into Laos after filling in a few forms. Normally about $25 I thought? When I questioned the guy he said: “it’s Sunday”.   You can’t argue with that.    I laughed out loud and said “fair enough”. 
The road was great. Brand new tarmac. Super smooth. Also a lot less traffic and buildings. Some parts were quite Isolated. Lots of Banana farming just across the border. Weather was great and I got a little burnt, again !  
Turned out that for some reason they hadn’t finished some sections of the road.  These only lasted a few kilometres at a time  though and it was back to ‘drag strip’ afterwards. 
My worries about a lack of accommodation were false and I found a nice Guest house but no WIFI.  The owner said there was no WIFI anywhere in the village! !  As soon as I checked in it started raining. Perfect. 

Monday 20th. 145k Xethamouk to Savannakhet (Thai Border).   Woke up feeling a bit puffy, not sure why. Maybe the air con. Maybe just Knackered and old.
Needed some money as I only had dollars. The Laos people will take them but very reluctantly the same as Vietnamese Dong even though the two countries are back to back. Thai Baht and obviously Kip (their own currency) is not a problem. The first ATM I came across didn’t work due to a power cut. I had enough Thai Baht left from my fishing trip for food but now I was out! The next ATM wouldn’t except any of my cards. I was getting Déjà Vu. The same thing happened the last time I entered Laos. (See my blog ‘Hotel California. Checked in but was worried I’d never leave’).   The bank wouldn’t change my dollars into Kip. In the end I transfer money to myself again using my WesternUnion banking App. This is all worth noting if you’re traveling in Laos. 

Eventually got going and only stopped a couple of times. 

This is what my shorts looked like after 145k (5:30hr) in 35+ degrees. ‘Salty balls’.

Over half way to Chiang Mai. March. 23,24.

March 23. Kalasin to Khon Kaen. 80k
Good ride. Fast 30k average, getting stronger. The temperature hit 40 degrees today.  I learnt that Titanium, if left in the sun, will burn your leg if you touch it, it gets really hot. Hotter than alloy or steel. The road was very straight in places and I could see the heat haze coming off the surface and creating a mirage like mercury on the road in front of me. The picture shows this below but it’s a poor shot. 

Stopped at a new Harley Davidson shop that had just opened on the outskirts of Khon Kaen. 

Maybe I’ll trade the bicycle in and go in style for the rest of the trip ….

March 24. Khon Kaen to Chum Phae. 82k. 

As I left I noticed that there were life size models of Dinosaurs dotted about. I had seen these before and then saw a sign for a Dinosaur museum. I would have stopped if I had found it but couldn’t spot it. Bit of a main road today. Not great but direct. Booked into a crap hotel. 

On more than one occasion people have been surprised I have a bicycle??!   I walked into a coffee shop today dressed in full cycle kit including my neon orange Gaerne shoes. I ordered coffee, paid then asked the girl if I could lean my bicycle against the window. She said “Ahhh you have bicycle”???

No shit Sherlock that’s why I’m dressed like this.  I didn’t think when I got up I would wear this for a walk round town ?! Funny. 

I sleep with my bike whenever possible. Now and then I shower with it too. XXX