Out the door by 6:15 am. Crikey, never managed that yet, but we are learning that to do the kms we need to beat the sun. Beautiful sunrise while we loaded the bikes onto the one-man ferry to take us across the Mekong to pick up the main road south. Our ferry man had only one arm, very possibly one of the UXO victims. The river is quite magical in the early morning light. Tossed away the hotel’s “takeaway breakfast” of curry sauce with a bread roll and made up some banana sandwiches instead. We can’t get enough of the short, fat little yellow things.
Pedalled away for 7 hours, with short breaks to stretch our legs and refuel. The day got hotter and hotter from a very pleasant 18 degrees up to a too warm 38 degrees. Tasted the best pork scratchings ever. Made a water stop at a roadside shack also selling its freshly chopped up pig. Alongside was a huge pan of still warm pork scratchings. Paul had to persuade Linda that lots of fat isn’t the best thing for energy for cycling. Linda thinks Paul’s wrong.
Almost thwarted by not finding any ferryman to take us across the Mekong to Don Khong island, when miraculously he appeared. The financial negotiations kept changing but finally paid 40 kip (about £4) for 2 people and 2 bikes on his long tail boat. Worth it, as the alternative is a 15km detour and a new bridge. After 110km we thought another 15km was just a tad too much.
It’s a funny place. Don Khong is the largest of the 4,000 islands. We tried cycling across the island to catch the setting sun on the west side. After 8km of rough, pot-holed roads with no nice bar at the end, we didn’t hang around but skirted round the south of the island, through the villages. Our first proper sight of some emerald green and lush paddy fields.
The 4,000 islands are famous for being ‘relaxed’, with not much to do other than have swing time in a hammock. Tomorrow we are off to ‘party island’, Don Det. We will probably hate it. And move before sunset.