Nong Khai to Chiang Khan

120 miles pedaled, heading north, alongside the Mekong since leaving Nong Khai. The first day to Sangkhom was relatively flat, with frequent detours through villages to see day to day life whilst avoiding the highway despite traffic being very light.

The river valley is clearly very fertile with acres of vegetable crops and swathes of tiny red hot chilli peppers variously being watered, weeded or picked by straw-hatted workers.

Red hot chilli peppers

Setting off at first light, just after 6am, makes for much more pleasant cycling before the sun gets high and temperatures soar. Today we completed the 68 miles from Sangkohm by 12.30pm allowing time to chill in an air-conditioned room before venturing out to explore once the heat recedes.

Today’s ride was more undulating and scenic with views of beautiful, tree-clad hillsides in Laos across the river. Farmers are busy harvesting rice, mostly by hand, with small, hand-cut sheaves being loaded using pitch forks onto pickup trucks and curious tractors. However, two tiny combine harvester type machines on catapillar tracks were causing much interest amongst the locals, and no doubt putting many out of work.

The traditional …..
… and the modern

Much time and effort appears to be expended in spreading the rice crop out on plastic matting to dry each day.

Rice drying in action

Escaping the cold …

Capture
A rough approximation of our route c. 800 miles

Unable to make our usual Jan/Feb escape to warmer shores in 2020, we are taking advantage of some very competitive flights to Bangkok to spend three weeks cycling in East and North Thailand. Some of which will be the trip we had to abandon in 2016 after Gavin broke his ankle.

Following a straightforward 12 hour flight (Boing 777) from Heathrow to Bangkok, we took a 1 hour internal flight, northeast, to Udon Thani and then a taxi to get to Nong Khai where the pedalling will begin. Nong Khai is located on the Mekong River, almost opposite the Laos capital city, Vientiane, which we visited on our 2013-14 South East Asia trip.

Park of huge Hindu & Buddhist concrete sculptures – Nong Khai

Tuesday was spent getting the bikes ready, exploring this delightful little, non touristy, town and acclimatising to the 32 degree temperature.

We plan to start tomorrow’s fifty plus miles at first light, closely following the river northwards, to get the bulk of the cycling done before it gets too hot.

Water spouting dragons beside the Mekong River Nong Khai