Saturday, 11 June 2011

Bike Ride Day 5 - Lai Chau to Muong Lay

Distance: 105km
Time: 5 hours

The day started off with some rain (we thought it was too good to be true not to have seen rain for 4 days!) so we waited it out.

We got on the road around 12.30pm deciding to go the whole way without stopping. The first part of the journey presented us with mainly unfinished roads which slowed us down. The roads were still windy as we travelled through the mountains. The scenery wasn’t as dramatic as the day before but still pleasant.

We made it to Pa So (which has now changed its name to Phuong Tau – it’s all very confusing – the government is building a dam and flooding what used to be called Lai Chau which is now called Muong Lay ~ a bit of a nightmare for travellers!) We stopped in Pa So for a quick refreshment break where we were joined by some friendly truckers who were smoking something out of a bamboo pipe (very tribal) before hopping back into their truck!

As we distanced ourselves from Pa So and neared Muong Lay the scenery changed to something more idyllic – we drove along a winding road that followed a large river. Some parts of the river saw a lot of work being done along it as they prepare to build the dam to harness hydro-electric power. This meant muddy, bumpy and slippery roads from the trucks using them. The roads were ever so slightly dangerous, but don’t worry, Dan did a good job of driving carefully!!

As we got close to Muong Lay we took a slight detour which took a turn for the worse. We were trying to find a hotel named in the Rough Guide which is still in existence but is definitely not easily accessible anymore since the old town has been literally flattened and moved across the river. As we were going up a hill, the bike got stuck in a quagmire of mud. Abby had to get off while Dan tried to get the bike up the muddy hill. As this was happening, Abby got stuck knee-deep in mud and couldn’t get out! After much effort, both the bike and Abby became free but Abby lost her flip-flops in the mud which we had to go back and get later. Everything was covered in mud by this stage – bike/bags/hands/feet... After all this, the hotel we wanted to go to wasn’t even accessible as you would have to have driven up a cliff to get there! We came back the way we came (down the muddy hill was a lot easier!) and found a brand new hotel, only open 3 days ago, where we stayed.

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