Monday, Feb. 22nd (Nong Khiaw to Muang La)

  • I fit in a morning workout on the balcony of our bungalow at Bamboo Paradise Guesthouse.
  • Cory woke up a bit later and we both took our time packing, sipping instant coffee, and catching up with family over FaceTime.
  • We strapped up our bikes and rolled out, stopping for breakfast at Mackara Restaurant, a place that had caught our eye on the ride into town.
  • It was the best breakfast we’ve had yet in Asia. Healthy, filling, and exactly what we were looking for: a bamboo pot of sticky rice, 3 egg omelette, fresh steamed vegetables, and a homemade tomato-spice sauce for dipping, all for 20K Kip ($2.50).
  • I noticed a metallic rattling sound coming from my bike as we pulled into a gas station at the edge of town. A quick look revealed a missing nut from the exhaust support plate.  
  • We pulled a U-turn and took my bike to the nearest (and likely only) mechanic shop in Nong Khiaw, where they replaced the nut and oiled both of our chains for 2K Kip (25 cents).
  • Finally on our way, we hit the highway with no further delays.
  • Once again we were treated to stunning mountain scenery in all directions. The roads were beautifully paved, the best we’ve ridden so far, with no potholes and perfectly rounded corners.
  • We couldn’t keep the smiles off our faces as we cruised through the jungle, the sun keeping us comfortably warm the whole way.
  • We arrived in Muang La around 5pm and promptly checked in to one of the few guesthouses in town for 50K Kip per night.
  • Muang La is best known for its hot springs and we wasted no time finding them.
  • The hot springs used to just be a portion of the stream that came out of the earth hot, but a fancy French hotel, called the Muang La Lodge, has turned it into a public utility (though parts of the springs are now strictly reserved for lodge guests only).
  • The public portion of the hot springs is a massive sunken square pit with stone walls and a large bamboo cross section for seating.
  • We spent the next hour boiling in the hot springs then cooling off in the adjacent Nam Phak River, all while laughing and joking with the locals, despite the language barrier.
  • We walked to the bridge at the edge of town for a papaya salad dinner at a local restaurant then returned to our guesthouse and called it a night.
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