Today has been pretty cool and adventurous. I hired a 125cc motorbike to go to Khone Phapheng and Don Det. This was adventurous as I’ve never ridden a motorbike before, so I had to learn on the job as it were. I didn’t crash it, fall off it or drop it once in the entire day, a fact I’m proud of! Setting off was a bit embarrassing as first gear is a bit feisty, 5 minutes later I was fine and 15 minutes later I felt as though I’d been riding bikes for years. It was easy. As I was navigating by a map from the Guide Book I took my GPS with me and inputted various landmarks along the way so I could find places. The roads were deserted and the weather was perfect. I even managed to get sunburnt! Even though I was only cruising along at 50kph (31mph) it felt really good and I felt like listening to "The Eagles".
In total I drove about 75km. Thats about 10km more than the route on the GPS because I went down to the Cambodian border checkpoint, but didn’t mark it. My first major stop was at Khone Phapheng Waterfalls which are the biggest falls in South East Asia, measured by volume. They aren’t pretty at all but they are very impressive as a large portion of the Mekong just drops by about 10m and, as its the 4th largest river in the world, thats a pretty major event. I was disappointed to find the place more touristy than the last time I was here. There are loads of restaurants and all the roads are tarmacked. A few kilometers north of the falls was a sign for a resort boasting that it had a golf course, in Laos!
I then drove back north on Highway 13 to Ban Nakasang to see if I could get to Don Det. The 'ferries' were just longtail boats, so I couldn’t take my bike. I decided therefore to give it a miss, this meant that I couldn’t catch up with the people I’ve been with the past few days.
Working my way back north still I saw signs for another waterfall and thought 'what the hell, why not?', so I went to check it out. I think they’re only falls in the dry season as there were no waterfalls and just a hint of rapids: I assumed that they were engulfed by the Mekong in the wet season. I did manage to get lunch though, which was good.
I then just made my way back to my Guest House with the added adventure that the main ferries weren’t crossing, as there wasn’t enough traffic, so I had to take my bike across on 2 longtails strapped together - which was 'exposed'. All in all today has been fun exploring around on my own on a motorbike, a good laugh.
I’m finding that I’m needing my French skills on Don Khong, a few of the Guest House owners and tour operators speak French. Its good because I’m pleased that I still remember how to speak French and think on the spot.