Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 2 - THAPABAT TO PAK KADING
9th July 2012

We had a good sleep. Just like yesterday, we woke up to a grey sky. A promise of another wet and cold day. Breakfast was Instant Nasi Goreng. We both agreed that this brand of Instant Nasi Goreng will not be in our future to buy list. But we shall protect the brand, and we will highlight the brands we prefer.

We expect this day's ride to be longer than yesterday but we look forward to reaching a town called  PAKSAN, roughly 50 kms away from our night stop. The owner of the Muslim restaurant in Vientiane told us that we could find a Muslim restaurant "Yasmin" in Paksan.

Day 2 route. 
We cycled in the slight drizzle. Our rain coat doubled as both a rain-coat and a wind cheater. Traffic as always had been light. The landscape of this route seems pretty monotonous. Apart from the usual small villages dotting the route, there was really nothing much to see, until the road hugs the Mekong at several stretches.

The continuous mist and heavy clouds 

The Mekong is on our right side as we cycled eastwards. It's huge, and we could see the current moving in the same direction of our cycling route. If we were on a raft, we could float downstream though much slower than our cycling speed.

A rest by the Mekong River
At several villages, dried fish from the Mekong were displayed for sale. We stopped to pose but not to buy. We would have no means to try out the delicacy.

Dried fish of the Mekong sold by the road-side
When we arrived the town PAKSAN, we trained our eyes for the promised Halal Lunch break. You know how the mind started to build up the expectation and the stomach joined in to increase the hunger  pang. As we progressed into town, we could not locate the promised restaurant and the town was fast making way to an empty stretch, indicating that we were arriving at the outskirt of town. Undeterred and still hopeful, we turned back and showed a hand-written note in Laos that says "Muslim restaurant". The few people we asked shook their head. Not a good sign. The information given must be wrong. 

Logic should have alerted us that there would really be no reason for a Halal restaurant here. There was no indication of any Muslim settlement here, neither did we notice any one garbed in any Muslim attire. Why oh why did the restaurant owner in Vientiane gave us such a false hope???

Two hungry cyclists in a vain search for halal restaurant
So, before we reached the outskirt of town, we stopped at a stall. We took 2 cups of Maggi Mee and requested the owner to pour hot water into them. Before we could stop her, she had poured "their" soup into our precious maggi mee. We smiled at each other. Not only did the Yasmin Restaurant evade us, we ow had to offer our two very precious Instant Maggi to the stall owner. Our halal stock is now short by two cups! Eat we must, so out came another 2 Instant Maggi Mee from the pannier. We make sure this time the lady gave us the hot water. We poured the hot water ourselves!

our precious instant maggi mee

The weather improved as we cycled out of Paksan and it was getting hot. We had then covered in excess of 60kms and we came to a village, and an inviting rest area. Such opportunity to stretch my back will not be missed.


A village community
In this village, we noticed an underground pump that provides clean water for the locals. We thought it was a rather ingenious act of community responsibility. 

Free water from an underground pump
While we thought we would have a dry ride, the rain began to come down again and again we took shelter at a coffeeshop. Not long after, two motorcyclists also stopped. They were looking for direction to go to Phonsavan. Two European guys, one from Ireland and the other from Nederland bought their 150 cc motorbike in Vietnam for US$250.00 each. Like us, they were on a trip from Vietnam to Laos, to end it later in Vientiane where they hoped to sell off the bikes there.

They were hoping that we had a map to help them locate the diversion to Phonsavan. We could not help them with our map but the coffeeshop owner  gave them the confidence that the diversion is behind them, and they had to backtrack.
Two Mat Sallehs did the faster and easier way on motorbikes
We waited for the rain to clear up and continued. The light lunch of Instant Maggi helped to subdue the hunger pang but when we came across several stalls selling maize, I suggested to my ride buddy to stop


While Khailani pose ......

I eat ....
We continued on our journey and when the kilometre reading showed a distance of  about 100kms, we saw the signboard PAK KADDING, our destination. We cycled for another 5 kms and agreed to stop at the first guest house we came across.

We stopped at this guest house and gladly paid US$12 for a night. For US$2 more than the earlier guest house, this was better and bigger.

Dinner was Brahim's Beriani with Kurma Ayam and eggs. The chef, Khailani wisely bought the eggs at a shop before we checked in. I did my part of the chore as the dishwasher, not that there were many dishes to wash!



RIDE STATISTICS

Distance : 105 kms
Ride Time : 6 hrs 25 mins
Average Speed : 16.4
Average Temp : 24.9

3 comments:

kushi said...

Good Posting, Nice , Thanks for sharing.
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acid mustafa said...

oolala.. food food, where are you!
No worry bro, our next trip will be a place of aplenty! Halal food, to your right and left. Just learn the langguage whether you want chicken , beef or duck with your rice, or you want it fried wit little or a lot of chilli. Love it to the place where I talk to the hand!

See you on Koh Libong ride, mate.

Acid Mustafa

ARZ said...

Acid,

Yeap. Koh Libong and no need to carry food. Must tell Khailani to leave behind the rice-cooker too.

I think I'll put on additional calories instead of burning them away