4/14/18: Day 2 of Thakhek Motorcycle Loop: Alone Again

I woke up pretty early, at 7:30. I got breakfast at the guesthouse with Kevin, Quinn (American), and Gabriel (Romanian)– Quinn and Gabriel are two people who I had met the night before. I got fried noodles, which were quite greasy.

And of course, my bike fell on its side once more before exiting the parking lot. I really need to get better at remembering to use the hand brake as I back out of places.

Kevin and I both needed to get gas, but we didn’t see any gas stations nearby so we decided to drive on and hope for the best.

10 kilometers out, we still didn’t have gas and we were getting dangerously low. We asked some random guys sitting around, and they told us the nearest gas station was in the town where we started.

We turned around, tanks nearly empty, praying that we’d make it before we ran out completely. We got to the town, asked our guesthouse staff where to get gas, and were led to a small shop across the street.

We asked the staff there for gas, but they told us they had ran out, and that we’d need to drive five kilometers south to the next town.

I almost lost it. I literally had drops of gas left, and I really wasn’t sure that we would make it five more kilometers.

We had no choice, however, so we got back on our bikes and drove south.

About a minute of driving later, Kevin spotted a small shop selling gas. THANK GOD. Because just as I was pulling into the shop, my bike completely died. Like, it just turned off completely. I was so lucky that it happened when it did– life is funny sometimes.

Our tanks full and an hour behind schedule, we continued our loop.

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We drove to the Cool Springs, which was super crowded for the New Year. There was a huge festival with food/drink stalls everywhere, a DJ on the stage, and so many families having picnics under the trees.

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Matching fam outfits!

We walked to the springs, which was essentially a swimming area with bright blue, clear water with lots of rocks surrounding it.

Everyone was swimming fully clothed, but I didn’t want to go in my clothes so I changed in to my bikini and probably offended everyone there.

The water was cold, but felt really nice. It was probably one of the hottest days I’ve ever had in my life, so cold water was a must.

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After swimming around for half an hour, we dried off, changed back into our clothes, and headed toward the parking lot.

We got drenched, over and over again, at each of the villages we passed through. No complaints, though– I needed that water to cool me off.

We got lunch at a random guest house, one of the few places open today since it was New Years Day. I ordered sweet potato soup, thinking it’d be a creamy blend of sweet potato and other veggies, but it was a clear soup with chicken balls and vegetables. Confused, I asked the lady to make sure. She said yes it was sweet potato soup. But I saw zero sweet potato. Not wanting to waste an entire meal, I just picked out the veggies with my fork and ate them with rice. Kevin ate one of the chicken balls for me so I would feel less bad for wasting them. I just really didn’t want to eat them.

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My weird chicken balls

After lunch, it was time to say bye to Kevin. He had to head back to Thakhek to catch a bus to Luang Prubang– he was flying out of there in a couple days.

It felt weird to say bye since we spent 10 days together, and about half of those days it was just us two.

It was quite anticlimactic. We just hugged, said nice to meet you and good luck, and then parted ways.

I drove to Namsanam waterfall, which was really close to the lunch place.

It was about a 45 minute hike to the waterfall, and on the way it suddenly hit me that I was alone again. I love meeting new people, but saying bye seriously sucks. You spend so much time together, make memories, become close, and then it’s over. And you’re back on your own.

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I got lost a couple times. There were signs everywhere pointing to the waterfall, but it was still somehow confusing because there were paths that looked like paths but really weren’t.

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Hugeeee hole!

At one point when I was a bit confused about the path, some random Laotian appeared and pointed me in the right direction. He then followed me the rest of the way, making sure I got to the waterfalls.

I don’t know if it’s a coincidence that I got followed by a man right after I left Kevin and was once again a lone female traveler, but I got the feeling that this wouldn’t have happened if I was still traveling with a guy.

Man was it was HOT, even under the shade of the trees. I was sweating bullets.

I eventually reached the falls an hour later, and they were so lame. There was almost no water streaming down, and you couldn’t even swim in the river because it was quite dirty.

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The Laotian kept motioning to me to climb further to a viewpoint, but it was 4 pm already and I had to leave soon if I was going to make it to the Kong Lor by sun down.

He then started scratching random numbers into the rock he was sitting on, using his key. He wrote 22, then 21, then 19, and I realized he was asking me my age. I took his key and wrote 24. He then wrote 28, letting me know his age too.

I headed back toward the trail, and he was right behind me the entire time. It made me nervous because it was just him and me in the whole forest, and he could have done whatever he wanted.

He kept shouting things to me from behind, but I had no idea what he was saying and I was annoyed– I just wanted my peace & quiet– so eventually I stopped turning around just kept walking and ignoring him.

Luckily, I got out unscathed and was back on my bike by 5 pm.

The ride to Kong Lor was super beautiful, probably the highlight of the entire 3 day loop. I couldn’t believe places like this exist and that I have the opportunity to see them.

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I got to the village, but I couldn’t find the guest house suggested to me. I pulled into a random guest house (Eco Lodge) just as Quinn and Gabriel happened to be entering it, too. I got a room (really cheap– 60,000 kip or $7 for a private room) and then joined them for dinner at the guest house restaurant.

I got “ginger hot plate veggies,” which I assumed were some sort of veggie stir fry. I was right. And it was quite good!

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We chatted for a bit, but everyone was really tired so we all went back to our rooms right after dinner for bed.

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