Our 40th day on the road and we found ourselves in Tha Khaek, Laos with 7 other backpackers setting out on what would be an intense five day motorcycle trek through the more remote parts of central Laos. Coincidentally it was also International Women's Day and as an ode and challenge Courtney and I decided that we would be the only two girls to take our own manual bikes on the trip rather than doubling with the guys. This was quite the challenge as neither Courtney nor myself had ever ridden a motorcycle and had no idea how to ride manual. We rode up and down the driveway a few times the morning of and decided that was sufficient preparation.
The gang all gassed up and we set off on our adventure. The plan was to do the Tha Khaek loop in four days with the highlight being the Konglor Cave where we would go by boat 7 km through the middle of a mountain. The first hour and it was already raining. We drove right by the first set of caves and had to double back to see them. Lucky for us we met a man on our way who offered to show us where the caves were. He took us to the first cave where we got free entrance and upon asking him how he did it he pulled a gun out of his motorcycle and jovially told us that he was a police officer. (a bit sus but we didn't question it.) He took us to a few more caves and then we continued on our way. The roads were red mud, huge potholes, rocks everywhere and it poured rain. I was not a happy camper. The last 20 minutes of the ride was also in the dark and by the time we made it to our first hostel I had sworn off getting back on my bike the next day.
Alas a few shots if laolao and some encouragement from the LoveFool motorcycle gang and I was back on track. The rain let up and the roads improved as we got further into the trip. Courtney and I got up more confidence each day and by the fifth day we were cruising along at 90k rocking out to our iPods.
The scenery on the trip was wild, experiencing it on a motorcycle rather than on the mental Laos tourist buses was so much better! We saw mountains and jungles and got to stop in the more remote villages along the route and play with the kids at the schools. They were adorable and thought getting their pictures taken and being able to see them was just wild. Konglor cave on day four was incredible. The cave itself is immense, it's pitch black in most of it and very creepy. There's a section where they've put lights in to illuminate the stalactites and stalagmites and it looks like a movie set, the formations are so varied and bizarre they look like they're from another planet. The river through the cave drains out into a beautiful lake and we all went swimming for the afternoon and rock jumping with some of the local kids. It was the perfect day and a great end to the trip. The totals for the trip were 11 people (we picked up 2 Aussies half way through) 9 bikes, one flat tire, one crash and countless crates of beerlaos and bottles of laolao.