The route : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/169308246
The chat :
The chat: After some rather unhelpful “route research” (chat with locals ) about today’s route, we couldn’t decide what to at 5 30 am this morning: 125 hilly kilometres on a main road, or 110 less hilly kilometres on a dirt track. The general verdict on the dirt track ranged from “bad” to “good” (although translation of these comments may have been hindered by our dreadful Laotian), so we were left none the wiser and decided on a whim to go for the dirt track. This turned out to be a superb decision which we smugly congratulated ourselves for all day, as the road was good, scenic, and, most importantly, littered with small children holding buckets of water which they were eager to empty over us to practice for tomorrow’s Water Festival.
We arrived in Thakhek soaking but so much less hot and grumpy than normal, and our moods lifted further on finding our pad for the night (Thakhek Travel Lodge 2) which boasted an extremely comfortable bed, air conditioning and, essentially, a multitude of Buddha artefacts . Eschewing a night time campfire, we headed into town for barbequed food and cake. All the chat in town was about Laos New Year (incorporating the Water Festival) – a 3 day extravaganza involving mass water fights, lots of Beer Laos drinking, and dancing to bad music. While the festival takes place across the entire country, the activity is focussed in big cities such as Takhek (population 70,000!!). Our planned route for the next 7 days was through tiny villages interspaced with tens of kilometres of nothingness, so we decided to take a day off to celebrate New Year properly in Takhek and stocked up on water pistols and cheap t-shirts capable of withstanding water/paint/dye bombs.