The next city I wanted to go to is Pakse which is little over 300 kilometers from Thakhek. The reasonable thing to do would be to do it in two days but I’m tired of transit towns with nothing to see so I made a deal with myself; if I reached Savannakhet, the biggest city along the way, before lunch I would continue all the way.
I didn’t manage to take off quite as early as I wanted but I made good time and by eleven I was already passed the junction with the Savannakhet road so I decided to tough it out. It was a pain in the butt but I made good progress for most of the day. When I was about 50 kilometers from Pakse I had the second breakdown of my journey. At first I thought the chain had jumped again which was weird because I have been keeping track of the tension since Dien Bien Phu. It turned out that the gear selector lever had somehow come loose and fallen off, the sound that made me think it was the chain, was when it got caught in the chain guard on the way down. Well, I got out my wrench and set to work. I feel kind I proud I managed to fix it, and tighten the chain a bit for good measure, in just 30 minutes. After that everything went fine all the way into Pakse but I was exhausted when I arrived.
No photos this time but some observations: I mentioned in an early post that there are plenty of cafes and restaurants along the road in Vietnam. Not so in Laos (or rural Vietnam for that matter), here it’s only in the towns and villages that you can find restaurants. It seems many of them close at one pm so if you are in a town around noon I advice you to get something to eat even if you’re not that hungry, because you might not get another chance.
Along the main roads in Laos there are plenty of petrol stations, just like in Vietnam. Out in the rural parts of the country, petrol stations are more scarce but you are still likely to find drums of fuel with a hand crank or a shop with a couple of old bottles filled with petrol in some of the villages. That is to say, there’s not a high risk that you’ll run out of fuel, but I bring a spare bottle just in case anyway.
And lastly, it seems Laotians, especially the Lao girls, don’t like to wear neither helmets nor sunglasses so you will sometimes see them riding a scooter, only one hand on the handle bar, shading their eyes with the other.