Thakhek

Nick, Dan (Nick’s dad) and I took an 8 hour bus from Pakse to Thakhek (350 km) where we began the Thakhek motorcycle loop. We rented a 250 cc Kawasaki dirt bike and 125 cc Honda MSX from Wang Wang, an extremely helpful bike rental shop. For any traveler looking to do this loop I’d recommend staying at Thakhek Travel Lodge and renting from Wang Wang. On day 1, we drove 311 km winding through rock formations and over flooded forests as a result of a backed up dam. The road conditions were great, as it was paved the entire way and much less stressful driving than the motorcycle loop we did in Northern Vietnam. We arrived to Lak Sao in the afternoon and were greeted with sheer rock looking over the town. We found the town to be rather eerie. We seemed to be the only tourists in the large town and the locals we interacted with seemed not only uninterested but unfriendly. Something seemed strange about this town, it had a ton of guesthouses, enough to house hundreds of tourists and although it was the beginning of high season the town was deserted. We ate at “The Only One” restaurant and were unsure if it’s named referred to it being the only restaurant in town or the fact that we were the only customers for what seemed like days. This was an interesting experience as the majority of our other experiences in Laos differed greatly.

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Lak Sao
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Like father, like son

Nick and I took so some joy rides in the evenings as I haven’t ridden since I got my motorcycle license last year. The size of the Asian bikes are perfect as my feet can actually reach the ground! We also enjoyed the looks we got from locals when I drove as we are definitely breaking some gender norms.

 

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vroom vroom

The next morning we left Lak Sao and drove 99 km to the Konglor Cave. A river runs through this 7.5 km cave located beneath a limestone mountain. We took a 4 person longboat through the creepy cave and although pitch black our headlamps illuminated the intricate stalactites and sleeping bats. The magnitude of this cave was incomprehensible as it reached 100 m tall in some areas. After touring the cave we drove the bikes back to the small town of Na Hin where we relaxed and ate delicious food at Sanhak Guesthouse. I strongly recommend this guesthouse as a private room and bath costs $7 ($11 w ac) and the brownie sundies was the best western desert we’ve had since leaving the states.

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Konglor Cave

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On day 3, instead of finishing the loop and driving 148 km on a straight highway back to Thakhek we drove back the way we came. We drove 335 km through huge rock faces, mountains and limestone formations. Our trip was trouble free and a blast. We returned to Thakhek and took a sleeper bus to the capital, Vientiane. Stay posted!

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Sleeper bus