The Motorcycle Diaries II
Trip Start Jan 03, 2008
22Trip End Feb 15, 2008
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Started the morning in Lak Sao at 6am to the sound of the Vietnamese workers leaving the hotel. They were loud. There was no way I was getting out of bed even if I wanted to, it was too cold for me, about 10 degrees. My body is just not used to temperatures like that, so I decided to wait for the sun to warm things up.
Three hours later I emerged to a slightly warmer place and I was off in the direction of the fabled cave river, called Kong Lo. I reached the small village of Ban Khoun Khan ( also called Ban Na Hin) for breakfast. I ate a lot, really it was a lot. My plan was to head to the cave and back in a day. I met some people who had returned from the area, they advised that there is a new road being built and it would only take about an hour and a half to reach the cave
With my two boat guides I went into this 7.5 kilometer long river that cuts its way through a limestone mountain range. My guide in front was the navigator. He was a chain smoker and as the boat went through I inhaled more smoke than a piece of ham in a deli. Not to mention that the boat is powered by a noisy motor. A serene experience it was not. There are several portages through the cave where the guides manhandle the boat through the rapids. I needed to get out of the boat at these times and get the old feet wet
I know of no other place on the planet like this. A 7.5 kilometer river flowing through a mountain range, insane. Apart for the lack of concern for the long term viability of using this cave it was a great experience.
By 5pm I arrived back at my trusty lime green bike. I gave one of the locals a lift to his village then I set out on what can only be described as the most scenic journey I have ever done. Limestone mountains on either side, sun setting on one side, the colors were very dramatic. Photos do not do justice to this area, the experience of riding through this area as the sun sets, priceless.
I made it back to the hotel to find that Nick and Paula had 3 flat tyres and were staying in town tonight. It will be a very long day fro them.
The next day I made it back to Tha Khek so completing "the loop", the 400 or so kilometer journey that so many before me have completed and so many other will complete. If you are reading this and planning to do this trip then all this information will be out of date. The road to Kong Lo cave will be completed by May 2008. If you are there then take the ride from the caves at sunset, magic. The road around the loop will be finished by the end of 2008. Will the trip be the same, who knows. One thing is for certain, it will be a lot easier making it more attractive to even more tourists. As for Nick and Paula they made it around the loop, limping into town late at night. Paula showing her rather large scapes on her left arm. I advised her that they were not scatches but souvenirs of the wonderful journey that is, "the loop"...