Some of our best memories this entire trip have been when we’ve had our own transportation. The first time was in our final days of Argentina when we shared a rental with some other travelers we met at our guesthouse. Next was Africa where we rented our own car to tour Southern Africa, taking it into 4 different countries, before heading north and meeting up with some others driving their own car back to London.
We arrived to Tha Kheck after a long day on yet another slow bus in Laos and made our bookings for the motor bikes. Mr. Kho started us out with a basic lesson which involved us turning the bikes on, driving and switching from first to second gear, and making u-turns. The turns were actually actually the hardest part because going to slow means the bike falls down on you…and that hurts.
We were off, zooming down the highway….well it was a road. The first stop was one of the reasons we wanted to do the loop, the Buddha Cave. This particular cave was only discovered in 2004, filled with Buddha statues that hadn’t seen the light of day for as many as 600 years. It is believed they were hidden in the cave from invading forces from modern day Thailand, who now make religious pilgrimages to the site.
The next day was where we earned our racing stripes. The road had gone from paved to unpaved to dirt and then finally to mud. Becka’s bike liked to stall every time she slowed to a stop or tried to downshift while going uphill, this led to her constantly jumping on the starter to get the bike going again and thanks to her small legs she had more than one bruise to show for it.
Jill though was even worse. On the main rough patch she lost control of her bike and although she was still on the bike, it was spinning out of control, in circles, through the mud. Rather than using the break she instinctively pulled on the accelerator which kept her bike doing Evil-Kanivel 360s with the weight of the bike falling against on half of her body. This was after she’d taken a spin (not literally) through a thorn patch and had thorns through all her toes.
Somehow I survived without the same bruises and scrapes. I also got to play hero when Jill’s fuel intake came out and I managed to both find and fix the problem….skills I owe to when it happened to us in Ethiopia. Clearly I’m the hero of this story!
Our motorbike tour wouldn’t be complete though without our final stop at the Konglor Caves. Arriving to the caves in the morning we traded in our bikes for a boat (and boatmen) to take us through several kilometers of subterranean rapids until we emerged on the other side of the mountain. It was a spectacular river but didn’t compare to the fun we had riding those bikes!