Hello. I have once again fallen behind on my blogging. Maybe because I haven’t been so adventurous the last couple of months. When I found out that I had a place on a Vipassana meditation course (more below…) it confirmed my decision I wouldn’t be heading to China but would head home before Christmas. With that in mind, I think I have been making the most of the hot days, hammocks and getting through some books before returning.
Anyway I didn’t ride all the way across Laos. I took an eventful bus from Sam Neua to Luang Prapang. I met a French guy at the bus stop, one of us said, ‘It’s probably not a very good idea getting a bus through the hills after a day of heavy rain in the monsoon is it?’ Either one of us was right; we had to stop about 6 times because of landslides. Some meant jumping out and chopping foliage up, one we were stuck at for almost 2 hours digging away the mud with bamboo and the last dodgy moment was caused by a fallen tree resting on a power line that we could just inch round. But the scenery was great even with locals (I guess unaccustomed to much travel) throwing up into little plastic bags pretty continuously. But we reached Luang Prabang in the small hours eventually, only 6 hours late.
From Luang Prabang I rode south on a stunning road to Vang Vieng where I stayed 10 days enjoying the area and my guest house’s atmosphere equally. I tried ‘tubing’, floating down a river in a tractor inner tube and being pulled in to stop at bars. This used to be a big draw for the town but last year was majorly restricted due to the many injuries and fatalities of drunk tourists using rope swings and slides into the river whilst smashed. Still a nice afternoon out though. From there I rode to, which Vientiane has to be the smallest capital city I have been to. It has nice views at sunset over the river and some good food but not much else going for it.
I crossed the Friendship bridge back to Thailand to the city of Nong Kahi, where I stayed at an interesting guest house with a curious mix of clientele. There seemed to be a constant flow of interested characters and the bonus of lots of other cycle tourists. After relaxing there I hoped on a bus to Chiang Mai where I flickered between and Pai in the hills nearby. I took a massage course, rode around the area and chatted to monks. I stayed up there a few weeks before taking another bus to Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok. I stayed a few days by the river Kwai (yep, saw the bridge) and am now in Thong Pha Poom ready to depart tomorrow for the meditation.
I have been thinking about taking a meditation course for a while after speaking to a few people, mainly in Nepal who raved about it. It will be 10 days of silence and no eye contact. I don’t think these will bother me too much. It will be the sitting for 10-11 hours a day and the hunger that will be my weakness I imagine. But I can’t really guess how I will feel; I will let you know in a couple of weeks time when I return.