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Blog 92 Udon Thani to Vientiane, Laos

26th December Boxing Day

Had a rest day on Xmas Day but back on the move today. Left my great bungalow style resort hotel near Udon Thani and started the ride to the capitol of Laos, Vientiane. Without maps and with little intuitive help from the Google map app I reckon I found rural Thailand where few tourists go.

There will be a second part to Thailand when I return from Laos and Cambodia and re-enter the country further south. Approaching the Friendship Bridge I was well sign-posted to Immigration where the procedure took minutes, was polite and efficient and before long I was cycling on the small main highway along the banks of the famous River Mekong.

The Mekong River is one of the great rivers of the world and it's a trans-boundary river in East Asia and Southeast Asia and forms the border with Thailand for 850 kms. It's the world's twelfth-longest river and the third-longest in Asia with an estimated length of 4,909 kms. I sailed on it from nearby Nong Khai years ago on an earlier motorbike journey; calm by the time it gets to Vientiane but it's headwaters start in the Tibetan Plateau before crossing Southwest China, Myanmar, Laos and continuing downstream to Thailand, Cambodia, and southern Vietnam.

Everything is quieter and calmer the further north you go, and music is played everywhere. They even name villages after songs.

I Stopped and This is What I Saw

Vientiane is a lovable city and I've only just cycled into it. The night market by the river was already set up to sell, the traffic was calm and considerate, nothing seemed rushed. The geographical importance to me was it is nearly at the halfway point in my tour, that precise acknowledgement will be at the Plain of Jars in northern Phonesavan after which I head south to Bangkok, Singapore and Perth.

A Bit of Information

The U.S. Air Force began bombing targets in Laos in 1964, flying planes like AC-130s and B-52s full of cluster bombs on covert missions based out of Thailand. The United States eventually dropped the equivalent of a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years, according to Al Jazeera.The bombing focused on disrupting communist supply chains on the Ho Chi Minh Trail and Sepon, a village near a former French air base now controlled by North Vietnam.

An estimated 30 percent of the bombs dropped on Laos failed to explode upon impact, and in the years since the bombing ended, 20,000 people have been killed or maimed by the estimated 80 million bombs left behind. In 2016, President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Laos. He pledged an additional $90 million in aid to remove unexploded ordnance on top of the $100 million that had been spent previously.

Laos is called the “Land of a Million Elephants,” and is famous for its ethnic villages, and unexplored lands. The ride through the centre of the country could give me the authentic cinematography I've been looking for.

Land of a Million Elephants

Laos use to be known as the Kingdom of Lan Xang (1354 to 1707), which translates to "Land of a Million Elephants". As Laos had extensive forests and sparse human population, wild herds of elephants roamed all over and during this time, elephants were the main mode of transportation for the royal family and the principle engines of war. Elephants continue to be considered a sacred animal, which Lao people believe will bring them prosperity.

Map of the Day

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Jean-Marc Goossens
Jean-Marc Goossens
Dec 28, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

It was a real pleasure and honor to welcome you to our Hotel and to chat together. What a fantastic journey, what an exciting life!


Steve Turner
Steve Turner
Dec 27, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

War is by far and away the worst of humanity!!

But you're doing a great thing Nick, stitching countries together with a long thin line of peaceful smiles!! A fantastic ambassador! You should be President of the United Nations....I'd vote for you...🏳️

Enjoy the's crap in Blighty!

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