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Thakhek Loop Adventure Day 1

sunny

It was already 12 pm when I decided to rent the bike from Wang Wang Bike Rental Shop located at a row of old shops near the Mekong river. The rental for a day for the only mountain bike available at Wang Wang shop was 20,000 kip, which considered as very affordable and good value for the money paid. Mrs Wang Wang, co-owned the business with her husband and she stays at the 2 storey shop with her husband and her young children. She was kind of a nice person and accommodating. After I paid her 60,000 kip for a 3-day rental and handed over my passport as a deposit, I was ready to venture to the Thakhek Loop. With a copy of map from Mrs Wang Wang, I headed over to route no.12 from Thakhek to Mahaxai, which was an anti/counter clockwise direction of the Thakhek Loop. From route no.12, I will be heading to Mahaxai, then to Gnommalath or Yommalath on route no.1E, which would then be all the way up to Nakai. From Nakai, I would then be heading to Ban Thalang and I was told by Mrs Wang Wang that the scenes here were interesting surrounded by rivers and lake. I thought maybe this is the place to stay and rest before I restart my journey again heading to Laksao. From Laksao, I would then head on to Nahin on route 8A before finally reaching Konglor Cave on a 40km journey from Nahin.

I have checked with the staff at Thakhek Travel Lodge earlier on what were the interesting caves which worth visiting and was told that, they were Tham Pha Fa, Tham Pha Inh as well as Tham Nang Aen. I had decided that I cannot afford to visit all the other caves and places within route 12 because I wanted to complete the loop within 3 to 4 days. Anyhow, I had paid the bike rental for 3 days and perhaps I would need to pay Wang Wang for additional one day rental should I cannot finished the adventure within the specified days. Other than time constraint, the caves and lakes off route 12 would take additional kilometres, up to over 20 km at some places. So, this would have taken up lots of the time considering I was on a mountain bike and not a motorbike.

What were most disappointed were the fact that at Tham Pha Fa, which was 10 km off route 12, the cave keeper disallowed visitors to take photographs inside the cave for reasons best known to these people inside. That aside, you would also have to pay 2,500 kip as entrance fee to the cave. Nevertheless, the journey itself on a dusty, bumpy and deserted road surrounded by hills and limestone mountains was worth the effort. From Tham Pha Fa, I cycled back to route 12 for another 10 km and continuing my journey on this route to my next target, Tham Pha Inh. This cave was located just about 500 metres off route 12, but unfortunately, I could not located the cave after entering the area, which was deserted with muddy and damped road surface as well as surrounded by trees and bushes. I was afraid that I may get lost inside as I move further into the area but was still lucky to locate the Emerald Buddha statue at the edge of a hill. After that, I headed out again to route 12 to continue the journey to Tham Nang Aen. I completed the Day 1 loop adventure finishing off my day at Tham Nang Aen by 5 pm.

It was altogether a 5 hour of cycling non-stop othen than to visit the caves. Before I get into Tham Nang Aen, I stopped briefly at a stall beside route 12 and bought bananas and the Oishi greentea to built up some strengther after a long day of cycling. One of the stall owner invited me to sleep at his stall as he said he wouldn't mind to host me as his guests. I thanked him for such a kind offer but politely declined him before I headed off route 12 for another 3 km to reach Tham Nang Aen. When I was there, the day was getting dark. The wind blowing from inside the cave was so cool and the surrounded area were surrounded by many trees. There was a stream at the entrance of the cave just off route 12 and I was lucky that there was a guesthouse cum restaurant. I settled down at the guesthouse before continuing my journey next morning to Mahaxai and the target was hopefully to reach Laksao, but unfortunately I could only end up at Ban Thalang. It was kind of eerie sleeping at the guesthouse in Tham Nang Aen and there was no hot shower, so I had to made so with it but the scary feeling just disappeared thinking of the onwards challenges ahead tomorrow.

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Day 1 On route 12 of Thakhek Loop heading from Thakhek town to Tham Pha Fa

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Day 1 Limestone hills and rice fields along route 12 of Thakhek Loop

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Day 1 Dusty and bumpy road to Tham Pha Fa off route 12

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Day 1 Limestone hills landscape enroute to Tham Pha Fa

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Day 1 The staircase leading up to Tham Pha Fa

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Day 1 The entrance to Tham Pha Fa which would lead you down where the Buddha sculptures are located. No photos allowed inside

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Day 1 On route 12 again out from Tham Pha Fa heading to Tham Pha Inh

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Day 1 Rice fields and limestone hills along route 12 headed to Tham Pha Inh

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Day 1 On route 12 to Tham Pha Inh. The distance signboard to the Laos-Vietnam border

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Day 1 The large limestone hills on route 12 to Tham Pha Inh

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Day 1 The entrance into Tham Pha Inh

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Day 1 The Emerald Buddha at Tham Pha Inh

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Day 1 The areas surrounding Tham Pha Inh

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Day 1 Headed out from Tham Pha Inh to route 12

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Day 1 On route 12 to Tham Nang Aen

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Day 1 Cycled on route 12 to Tham Nang Aen

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Day 1 The landscapes on route 12 from Tham Pha Inh to Tham Nang Aen

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Day 1 Banana and Oishi black tea to re-energised at the stall on route 12 just outside Tham Nang Aen

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Day 1 The stream at the entrance to Tham Nang Aen

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Day 1 The route to Tham Nang Aen

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Day 1 Its 3 km into the Tham Nang Aen

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Day 1 The signboard at Tham Nang Aen

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Day 1 The Tham Nang Aen

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Da1 Tham Nang Aen

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Day 1 Tham Nang Aen on route 12 Thakhek Loop

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Day 1 The upper wall outside Tham Nang Aen

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Day 1 The staircase at Tham Nang Aen

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Day 1 A basic room at a guesthouse in Tham Nang Aen

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Day 1 Simple dinner of khao neaw & larb moo (sticky rice & spicy & sour pork)

Posted by kidd27 20:45 Archived in Laos

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