Radelnd die Welt erkunden

18. April 2012

Cycling Northern Laos (Part 2)

Hi there (again)

Sorry to keep you waiting so long, but meanwhile I've been cycling in Yunnan (South China) where I had no access to the blog. 

As I promised, I will tell you about the second part of my cycling through Northern Laos. 

In Luang Prabang I made a very good decision! I took the boat on the Mekong upstream to Pak Beng (about 9 hours) and from there I had three wonderful cycling days to the border of China. The road is for the whole stretch in a good condition and there is no big climb, but it is quite undulating.

After about 50km from Pak Beng you will come to Muang Houn with several guesthouses and one hotel. I recommend to stay here, because the next opportunity for accommodation is Muang Beng (30km further) and there is only one very basic guesthouse. From Muang Beng it's 60km to Oudomxay (or 90km from Muang Houn). A perfect new road exists from Oudomxay to Mohan, the first town in China after the border (100km). A wonderful ride! Mohan offers plenty of Hotels and guesthouses! 

I met a couple who cycled from Luang Prabang to Oudomxay via Pak Mong. According to their information and from other people, the road between Pak Mong and Oudomxay (80km) is currently under construction and a nightmare for cycling. So, you do better take the boat!

All in all I'm very disappointed about Laos. This country has lost a lot of its spirit! Most of the people are not friendly anymore - they forgot how to smile! Money seems to be the main topic for those dealing with visitors. 
A lot of the beautiful dense jungle is getting destroyed by wide spread slash-and-burning farming which causes thick smog and leaves barren hills behind. The whole region is covered in dust, smoke and garbage. 
Yes, the cheering and greeting children along the way still exists. At least that! But don't expect many greeting adults! 
Don't get me wrong! Most of the people living still a humble life like centuries ago. And many of those people see the negative impact, which mass tourism brought to their peaceful country. Many of the tourists (especially in Vang Vieng) behave shamefully, with no respect to the local culture. I do understand the Lao people who try to avoid the visitors. How can they know, who is coming with good intentions and who's not. I wouldn't be friendly anymore neither. It's a pity and I think it's in the hand of the Lao government to stop the bad impact of tourism. I condemn the government of Laos, because they close their eyes for money. They don't care about the future of the country, they don't care about the people, they don't look forward, they just live in the present and try to make as much money as they can. You see them in big 4-wheel-drive-cars, arrogant and inconsiderate! 

My absolute favorite region for traveling and cycling is China, particularly Yunnan, the province just after Laos. There you will meet genuine, friendly, warm hearted and generous people, challenging mountains with stunning views and the best food in the world. I love it! It's much more interesting and far more unspoiled than in Laos!

All the best to you! And I hope, you'll get a better impression than me about Laos. 


Pak Beng to Oudomxay

Oudomxay to China

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