Black coffee, Royal Enfields, and fresh mangoes
- just another morning ride in Laos.
We are up early this morning tying down our bags onto our army green Royal Enfield’s. We eat sweet ripe mangoes washed down with strong brewed Laos coffee for breakfast before climbing onto our idling motorcycles. The serrated mountains peak out from behind the early morning haze as we slowly twist our way west. Today we want to try a more isolated road, ditching the faster alternative that runs south bending with the river, to see if it will be included on the itinerary for the new motorcycle tour in Laos. After 70kms we make a right onto the other road to Luang Prabang that follows the mountain ridge. The road is light colored packed earth that winds its way across across the mountains and out of view. It immediately renews us with an excitement for “the one less traveled!”
Cutting across mountain tops
The sun is beaming down as we wind our way across the dusty ridge. On either side we have expansive views into the rolling countryside. The landscape alternates between dark green vegetation and the smouldering black char remnants from slash and burn fires. We pass occasional villages, notable for the tangerine orange tv dishes resting in front of traditional wooden houses and the friendly waves from their inhabitants. When we finally reconnect to the paved road we stop for a cool drink. As usual, we bring out the football and start passing it around to the kids - it never ceases to elicit smiles. We hop back on our bikes and ride the last 80kms - enjoying the paved circuitous mountain roads as the bikes respond to our touch like an extension of ourselves. We arrive in Luang Prabang sweaty, happy, and completely covered in dust.
Don’t expect to be dry for the Buddhist New Year
We celebrate Pimai, the Buddhist New Year, in the UNESCO heritage city of Luang Prabang. The city is a beautiful mix of gilded buddhist temples, plumeria flowers overhanging quaint backstreets, and faded french villas which gives the town a welcoming and serene charm. Pimai is a celebration of renewal and water is the symbol. Children and adults alike line the streets in a jovial party atmosphere as they toss, spray or shower water onto each other and all passersby along with a friendly “ Sok Dii Pimai!” While in Luang Prabang we meet a local Laos guide who also restores old scooters and customizes motorcycles. We spend Pimai evening drinking beers at his garage, eating fresh bbq pork wrapped in lettuce leaves, trading motorcycle stories, and taking suggestions of places to visit as we create the new motorcycle tour.
The picturesque ride to Muang Ngoii
The next day we take his advice and ride back up the Nam Ou river to the small town of Muang Ngoi. Once we reach Nong Khiaw, we leave the paved road and turn onto the 30km dirt road that leads to town. As our Royal Enfields’ chug along the ochre brown dirt path the scenery instantly overwhelms us! Jagged mountains loom behind the dark cinnamon color of the ambling Nam Ou river. We stop for pictures as we cross pebble lined streams before arriving in Muang Ngoi. The single muddy street that traverses the town is lined with small hotels and restaurants offering fresh fruit smoothies and western food to backpackers who have made the ride on boat up the river. This is home for the night as we settle into our bamboo and thatch bungalows watching as the sun slowly drops behind the jade green mountains.
Discover our new motorcycle adventure in Laos: Beyond the Mekong.