The last three days have been intense. They kicked off with a truly awful ride through Hanoi, which lead directly into a nauseating and exhausting twenty-eight hour bus trek through the mountains of Vietnam and Laos. Immediately after, ready to collapse, we grabbed a very short night's sleep—a poor but passable rejuvenation needed for the lively Laotian party we attended the following day.
Thankfully, we aren't planning on leaving for a week-long motorcycle adventure until, oh, tomorrow morning. And so, today is our lone day for recovery, a rare morning whose wee hours will not be filled with work and writing, but rather a long laze in bed, safely under the covers, freely drifting between the murky borders of lucid dreams and consciousness.
While we did get our lazy morning, what we originally envisioned as a much needed day of rest and relaxation has instead, and quite necessarily, become one of preparation. After breakfast, we all head back to our guest-house to sort through our gear. Thankfully, we did not send our Ortlieb Rack Packs home when we flew to Southeast Asia from Mongolia!
While Natasha and Tara head back into town for supplies, Pete and I sift through our collected possessions, divvying up what what we want to bring and what we don't (and later, what we want to bring, and what we can fit). I've loaned our second rack pack to Pete, since it is totally waterproof and perfectly suited for the job.
I really enjoy the packing process. For some reason, sorting our kit into neat little piles is deeply cathartic to me. Maybe it is because I can see everything I own in the space of an hour, knowing that I have everything I need to live (except our tent!). Whatever the case, this life is certainly a far cry from the one I used to live!
With Pete's help, we've rented a Kawasaki Sherpa from Remote Asia for $30/day. He and Natasha will be riding throughout Laos for the next month, and we're going to join them for the first week of the trip. Because it is not currently legal for foreigners to rent motorcycles here in Luang Prabang, our bikes will be shipped to us from Vientiane, which is about 400 kilometers south of here.
We've decided on doing a loop of Northern Laos, covering some mountainous areas which Tara and I definitely wouldn't have the time (or, at this stage of our trip, the inclination) to do via bicycle. It has been years and years since I've done any off-road riding; I'm really exited!
We've heard that Laos is much more expensive than it used to be, and while this is certainly the case, we don't mind at all. On the contrary, we want to support the Lao economy because we're treated fairly and respectfully here. Every time I imagine someone moaning about the rising costs of tourism in Lao, I come back to Natasha's apt estimation of the "problem":
The country isn't here to be cheap for you!
So far, everyone we've met here has been overwhelmingly kind and friendly. Everyone! Even the touts, who are gracious enough to take "no thank you" as an answer without further harassment. At dinner tonight, we were undercharged for our meal by quite a lot, and despite our protestations, the people working couldn't seem to be bothered to amend the bill. We just left a big tip and declared this place a welcome change from Vietnam.
Tomorrow morning, we hit the road on motorcycles! WahooO!