14th May : Muang Lai to Dien Bien Phu 97km (4070km total)

The photo:

Muong Lay : not the world’s most scenic town

The route : http://connect.garmin.com/activity/179910449

The chat : Bidding the post-apocalyptic town of Muong Lay a not particularly fond farewell, we pushed on uphill towards Dien Bien Phu, the last town before the Laos border (hooray). Once we’d left the make-shift shacks and bulldozers for dust (literally), the ride was a long and dusty but scenic 100km past lush rice paddies and a meandering river with the scenery and people becoming more and more Laos –like with each passing kilometre. Sadly food options along the way were limited and a D.I.Y  lunch of crackers and sweets didn’t really provide enough energy for the hot afternoon spent climbing seemingly endless cheeky little hills and gently cursing.

Just as we were about to keel over from a combination of heat/hunger/excessive hill climbing we  finally arrived in Dien Bien Phu and pulled over into the first shop we could find for urgent ice creams to provide energy for the daily guesthouse inspection. We hit lucky on our third go, and after the best grilled beef, Bia Hoi and spring rolls we’ve had in a while, decided to max out our visa by spending the last valid day having a rest day visiting some war bunkers, drinking coffee and psyching ourselves up for the border crossing. Hard decisions over, we hooked up with some Norwegian bike touring surf loving medical students for trip tip swapping and debate about Norway’s welfare state – standard.

and we thought our panniers were heavy…

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