Diary in the Saddle- December 2019

We left the capital of Laos, Vientiane and headed north towards Luang Prabang. This route is very popular amongst bike tourers in South East Asia. Two days into the ride and we could see why. Cycling amongst spectacular Karst Mountains, peaks left and right. A welcome change. From Ho Chi Minh until now had been completely flat apart from the small mountain that separates Cambodia from Thailand. Although it is more challenging cycling, you reap the rewards of your efforts when you reach the top. Panoramic views for miles, massive peaks dwarfing ones beside them, and then comes the fun part, the downhill. 

Along these mountain ranges are fascinating hill tribes. Groups of 50 - 100 people living on the sides of the mountain. Kids running along side us and shouts of “sabaidee” which means “hello” from each dwelling from all the friendly villagers. A natural spring in the middle of the village where people get water to cook and wash their clothes. They also showered here. Wrapped in clothing with a bucket, this was usually done during the day as the temperature would drop near freezing at night. 

We arrived in Luang Prabang which has a strong French influence mixed in with local traditions, baguettes a plenty. It is unlike any other town/city we had been too in South East Asia. Stunning sunsets on the Mekong Delta and the Laotians are truly beautiful people. Here we completed ultramarathon number 4 which we finished at the Kuang Si Falls. A stunning waterfall on the mountains above Luang Prabang. 

Next stop was Northern Thailand, our visas we about to run out so we caught a 2 day slow boat up the Mekong to the border town Huay Xai stopping in Pak Beng for a night. As we meandered up the Mekong, every few hours the boat would pull in to the banks where excited villagers would hurry down the steep edge. A few boxes of supplies would be off loaded and off we would go again. 

Once back in Thailand we were heading for Chaing Mai. We learned of a marathon taking place there but registrations were closed. We emailed the race director to see if we could enter. When learning what we were doing he kindly gave us free entries. The race started at 3am in the morning, the challenge we set ourselves is to run 64km so we started at 12am and completed a half marathon before standing at the line of the marathon. Running around the usually busy streets of Chaing Mai and been part of an organised event once again was lots of fun. Running along these historic streets in the middle of the night amongst thousands of strangers has been a highlight so far. 

As always, thank you for the continued support. 

 

Paddy