4/13/18: Thakhek Motorcycle Loop Day 1

My breakfast was my usual Laos staple: muesli and fruit.
Kevin and I rented motorbikes from the place next to the hotel: we would be starting the Thakhek motorcycle loop today. It covers 450 km and takes 3-4 days to complete.
We rented semi-automatic bikes again. For some reason the semi-autos are always cheaper than the autos.
I’m really glad I got a proper bike lesson in Pakse because the lady at this place gave me no information at all. She just handed me the bike & keys– no mention of the brakes, gears, lights, nothing– and sent me on my way.
We rode about an hour to a cave, but after riding around for a few good minutes we couldn’t manage to find the entrance… so we gave up and drove on.

We stopped at Falang Lake to go for a swim. It was just us two in the entire area.

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Falang Lake

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We swam around for an hour or so before getting back on our bikes to the next stop— a cave, which we also couldn’t find. I don’t know if we are just dumb, the caves were closed, or if they’re just ridiculously hard to find, but we were 0 for 2 on the cave front.
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Such a beautiful drive

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Quickly took this while we were lost, looking for the cave
We stopped at another cave (Tham Nang Aen)— this one had a clear entrance— but it cost 30,000 kip ($3.50) so we decided to skip it.
Throughout the day, we got splashed so many times by Lao children and teens celebrating the New Year. They celebrate by using hoses, water guns, and buckets to splash (and/or douse) people in water as they drive/walk by their village.

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These ladies were handing out little flower pins to drivers. They were so cute!
We got lunch at a random local restaurant: I got a coconut and stir-fried veggies. My meal was really good, and cheap! The total for both was 18,000 kip ($2).

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My veggies
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Weird trees in the reservoir
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Hehe

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Kevin!
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Had to stop to snap a pic

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We drove a bit further and saw a sign for Tad Song Sou waterfall. It wasn’t included on the map given to us by the motorcycle rental company, but we decided to stop by anyway. We definitely made the right choice— it was the highlight of the day.
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Swimming area

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It was us two and a big group of local boys, swimming (fully clothed, of course), drinking beer, and smoking for the New Year.
Kevin and I bet on how old they are. I said 19, Kevin said 18.
I walked up to one of them and asked him how old he was. He got all flustered and told me he didn’t speak English, and then called over his friend, who I guess was the “English speaker” of the group. I asked the new guy, and he told me they are 17. They’re so young!!
And now I owed Kevin a beer.
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The Lao boys
Kevin and I swam around, jumped off a 10 meter rock, and explored all the little pools around.
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Our final stop of the day was the village of Thalang, where we would be staying overnight.
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We got completely soaked and then patted with baby powder by some local kids
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Sabai dee Pi Mai! (Happy New Year)
We checked into our guest house, Sabaidee Guest House, which was right next to a big lake. We decided to check out the lake. We were swimming for about five minutes before Kevin realized he was being attacked by tiny leeches. We quickly GTFO-ed and then spent the next 10 minutes picking leeches off of each other. How lovely!
The leeches were between our toes, on our stomaches, shins, bottoms of our feet… it was my first time dealing with leeches, and I can now confirm that they are annoying little creatures. They curl up when you touch them, making it hard to pry them off, and they’re so tiny that you can’t really tell if they’re leeches or just specks of dirt.

We showered, watched the sunset, and ate dinner at the guest house. We chatted with some of the other loopers, watched old MADtv/Key and Peel sketches (like Bonquiqui, Can I Have Your Number, Nooice) and had a few good laughs before heading to bed.

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