The Loop to Kong Lo Cave on Cheap China Shit Bike.

Nothing in Laos is set and stone, whatever. The bus departs at _______ and arrives at when it arrives. That’s how we found ourselves in the middle of the night, 3:00 am at the bus station in Thakhek. Clueless of the surrounding we barely had our eyes open. Thakhek is a city becoming touristier and know to be the base for the Kong Lo Cave.
Excited to test my new skills we rented a cheap semi automatic Chinese bike for 70,000 kip a day. The Lonely Planet recommends renting Japanese, but good luck finding it. The sun shinned and we took off north on R13 heading to Vieng Kham (105km). In total the Loop to the Kong Lo cave is 477 km, typically a 3 day journey.

DAY 1 out of 3
The speedometer’s max was 140km. Our max? I think was 55 kmph. We would never know as our speedometer never worked. When switched to gear 4, a constant melody was forming as I accelerated a high pitch drum getting ready to burst. Confidently I hit the gas and we were flying at the speed of constipation.

—Awe, my ass and back are killing me. — I said getting off the bike after an hour riding. — Lets pray together for survival.

Like I mentioned before I will say again — I want to have a motorbike, a “real one” no China shit bike, one that will have the power and vibration. Please tell me now if the “real one” also makes your ass hurt? I will reconsider my needs.

100 km down and we arrived at the intersection of R13 and R8, the guide writes that it’s “the most trippy” route in Laos. A must see if passing through Thakhek. The time was 14:00 and the bellies were screaming, we stopped at a local restaurant by the intersection in Vieng Kham. Iza had the best fried rice in Laos. I just asked her and she looked at me with sincerity — The rice was “bardzo dobry” very good. I went for hydration and got the noodle soup made on pork.

By the way, we are on a break from being vegetarians. I ate chicken tikka marsala, a delicious moment in my life.

Starting R8 we had 41 km to get to Kuan Kham. It was here that the “trippyness” was supposed to begin; instead the rain began. Equipped with raincoat we continued to precede accordantly. The views were enhancing with each kilometer, the butterflies were multiplying and we were blissfully shinning. Limestone formations were peeking and green forest was insight. Up the hill down the hill from side to side we kept ridding. Few kilometers down we were passed by two couples Germans and Israelis. Flying fast they maxed out their imperfect rides. — Hey, we meet again, how’s it going? — We made small talk and continued to cross paths through the entire loop.

After an hour of riding we entered the village of Kuan Kham, witnessing a motorbike accident, Iza closed her eyes and didn’t look, only to ask questions later. — Was all that blood from the guy who was lying on the ground? — she didn’t want, but wanted to know. In Laos the importance of safety is non-existent, only few wear helmets. During the holiday season Laos experiences most bike accidents in total of South East Asia. The though of crashing when ridding, at max speed always passes though the riders mind.  It’s important not to visualize yourself in a disaster, which will only accept and increase the probability. So don’t imagine just think!

Kuan Kham was the base for our first night. We checked into a simple guesthouse and showered off the exhaust dirt. Walking through the small village, the sun was setting creating hot hues on the sky and illuminating afternoon life. Few tourists in sight we checked out each street in the village and called it an early night.

DAY 2 out of 3
As planned we followed the map to the Kong Lo cave in the Phu Hin Bun National Park. For breakfast we filled up on the local rice soup with egg, a Lao specialty. The soup was good and I belief it was packed with MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), used to intensified flavor of the food, a common ingredient used in Asian kitchen. I couldn’t feel my lips.

The 40 km stretch to the cave was a true experience of rice field galore. Locals working in the water picking rice while the green reflection of the landscape made our ride tranquil. Stopping often to record the moment we slowly made it to the cave.  

The cave is a fresh newbie attraction where taking a long tail boat is the only way to explore the darkness wonder. The boat takes three people and costs 115,000 kip. We’ve seen many caves but this one was something else it was creepy, scary and cool. The entire ride on the long tail boat lasted about 2hr with a short walk passing stalactites and other funky cave formations. Shinning with weak torches we explored in deeper, it was truly an ancient underwater experience. Inevitable a though of gusting water and collapsing cave kept me alert and my imagination flowing. The height of the cave can reaches 100 meters, a huge dark dome. Highly recommended for cave lovers.

The day was hot, the sun was shinning and we continue to complete the loop. Coming back north to Kuan Kham we filled on spicy papaya salad and fried rice energy. We cruised in the afternoon light to Lak Sao, where we anticipated a fluffy bed. Twisty turns and many hills made it a pleasurable vista.

— Phoebie from “Friends” mentioned that she would make money giving massages in the cab, a Taxi Massage. I can now start my business and give massages on the bike. — said Iza while massaging my back as I rode in pain. — It’s an idea.

Lak Sao was like no other city in Laos. Dusty desert feeling with afternoon’s commotion created a one of a kind town. Once again the sun was setting adding to the dry look. We cruised though the town bought a ripe papaya and headed to find the fluffy comfy bed. Hate at first sight, we stayed in a guesthouse with moldy rooms, paper walls and stinky bathroom. However the people felt right.

Early night allowed for an early rise, like never before we woke up at 5:30 and started our journey at 6:00. Morning movement always looks so different; it’s a sight that most people miss dreaming away. In general, life in South East Asia begins earlier then you think, 5:00 is the norm, they rise and do all chores before the heat.

DAY 3 out of 3
Starting at 6:00 was the smartest unconscious move ever. We were completely clueless that the next 82 km was going to be maximum pain attraction. Few days prior to our trip the stretch from Lak Sao and Thakhek was completely flooded and impossible to pass. Since the sun was shinning for few days we decided to take the chance and complete the loop. Leaving Lak Sao the road changed from pavement to dirt and it stayed like this for the next 6 hours. Unaware we rode and observed the daily life of villages, morning work traffic and waving naked kids. We were the bright attraction that many eyes kept glaring. Kids waved hands and screamed “Sabadi”, hello.

Few kilometers into our day we were face with mud, puddles and wet interferences. Slipping and sliding we magically leaped with disbelief. At one point we though we were truly fucked when I didn’t listen to Iza, who jumped off the bike to check out the depth of the puddle, I changed the course falling deep into the mud and water. The engine stopped and we felt helpless and in fear. — You flooded the engine. — Said Iza, and I just pushed the fucker out of the muddy water. My Birkenstocks were soaked and mud reached my knees.

— Holy molly is fucking working, ALRIGHT! — I jumped in excitement when the engine started. We continued to encounter obstacles and rode in disbelief pain. The back, the ass and all other muscles were throbbing. We hoped with each kilometer the road will change, but we continued to cross puddle and slipping slides.

Not in all negatives, this was definitely a challenge. I have officially passed any dirt road bike test on a cheap Chinese motorbike. Additional to this accomplishment, I must say, the 82 km was something else. The psychedelic landscape and the dead trees made it a mysteriously deserted experience. In the making of a dam they flooded most of the area creating this mystical region.

A short relief was when we stopped by a stream and enjoyed our papaya. Again, nothing beats the taste of a fresh, ripe papaya. 6 hour passed and with maximum annoyance we arrived to Nakai, a small village where we enjoyed a veggie soup and fried rice.

— Alleluia!!!! — we both screamed when we eventually hit the pavement. It was the glory of all glories. It was a miracle that needed to be recorded, Iza grabbed her camera and once again we screamed — Alleluia!

The rest of the ride happened fast, I hit the gas and we soared though limestone formations, bamboo jungles and small villages, while Thakhek was insight. Riding fast we were hoping that all of our screws were on tight.

— I understand how we made it, but how the fuck did this JLM china shit bike made it? — I questioned. — Has anybody even heard of JLM?

Just Leap Man?

1 thought on “The Loop to Kong Lo Cave on Cheap China Shit Bike.

  1. lol! I love the last two pictures the most!!!!!!haaaaaaaa and yes your ass does hurt even on a motorcycle. 🙂

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