Lamphong to Savannakhet 138km
I was excited about heading towards the Mekong again. It was going to be a big day, 130km plus, but the route looked reasonably flat. There also seemed to be the possibility of hitting some smaller roads next to the river, but Marcus had told me that the one he rode on was pretty rough. Others had told me that sometimes the road stops, and you need to join the main road again. I decide to make the decision as I go along.
There's nothing open near my guesthouse for breakfast, so I stop at the next village after 10km. Not much on offer here either, but I grab a chicken on a stick. Very greasy, not much meat, but it's probably exactly what I need before a big cycling day.
I'm enjoying the ride. It's Sunday so not much traffic, and is not too hot. This road is the main North South road from the capital of Laos, Vientaine to Cambodia, so I'm not surprised to see a cycle tourist coming towards me. This is Mark, an American living in Thailand. He's doing a short trip down to Phnom Penh, and assures me he is NOT CIA. So I'm able to give him a few tips, having cycled much of that route, and because he's not CIA. He keeps referring to himself as an amateur cyclists compared to the likes of me . I don't feel anymore or less experienced than him. For me everyday is still an adventure, exciting, and new.
Half an hour later, another cyclist. This guy is from Beijing, heading to Singapore, and in a hurry. Lionel from Sweden was the next cyclist, followed by a young couple, Mason and Rachel. They have done some cycling in Europe, spending a couple of months in SE Asia, and then cycling from West Coast USA to their home in the Mid West.
I'm keeping my eye out for decent roads that might take me towards the river, but everything looks pretty rough. The final option on the map is no better so I decide to stay on the main road. It's going to be a long day anyway.
I'm feeling really good at 120km, and stop for my 10km stretch and drink. There's a sign saying 15km to Savannakhet. Back on the bike. I see a km sign...9km. I've got no idea how I got here. I don't know where I'm heading. 6km have blanked from my mind. I stop. Eat. Drink. Lie on the grass and fall asleep. All I can remember of those kms are strange, mixed up thoughts. Just a little scarey for someone who doesn't get into such a state in normal life.
So I know I've got 9km to go, ....to somewhere. I climb back on Fiona, and I'm pretty sure, wobbled into the city. I was spaced out. The first hotel I found for some reason didn't suit. I'm not sure why not. I just remember being there, then riding away. The next one, right on the Mekong River, was better. I ate, I drank. I showered. I skyped Ju and talked about my scarey afternoon.
What was the cause? I think I just ran out of juice. I had been snacking and drinking all day, but Obviously, not enough. Ever since getting to Asia, food has been a problem. Have looked for Protein supplements like bars or powders, but found none. Another lesson learnt. EAT. EAT. EAT.
Morning, and I'm very hungry. I haven't slept well, my stomach had been rumbling all night. I head out to find food. I find a noodle soup shop, and some fresh bread. The bread is dunked in the soup, and woofed, but I can't stomach the noodles. I decide to look for something else. I find a small mini market. No different to so many other shops, but this one has.....tuna, crackers, cereal, apple juice....oh my goodness. I head back towards the bread stall. Dash. I didn't look for cheese. Go back into shop and find.....Mainland Edam.....I cry........And just next door, a restaurant filled with Westerners, eating Pizza. I go back to the hotel, and eat bread, cheese, tuna and apple juice. I can't believe it. I'm crying again.
The next two days are spent sleeping and eating, at the pizza restaurant, and from this amazing little mini market in Laos. Never in my life before have I eaten 500gm of cheese in 36 hours. I now know why polar explorers drag kgs of fat across the ice on sledges. I feel soooooo much better.
250 days, and 15,000km done, and I'm still learning about myself, travel, cycle touring, and other countries and people's. 650 days to get home. Will any of what I've learnt stick? ? ? ?