|Great to see a smoke free temple (Wat) in Vientiane|
|Gates to a Wat in Vientiane|
|Satay, streetside, Vientiane|
|Mekong and waterfront in Vientiane, looking across to Thailand. Note the major earthworks in foreground - the riverbank is being developed to celebrate 450 years of Vientiane as the capital, at the moment it is a dusty mess|
|Large catfish from the Mekong River|
|The bikes for the tour lined up and waiting for riders!|
|Day 1 on the bikes - The group leaving Vientiane heading for Vang Vieng|
|First night in Laos for the intrepid travellers. Dinner beside the Mekong, Vientiane (down river a couple of kms from all the development)|
Waiting at Wattay airport in Vientiane, Laos, on Saturday 9 October Mike and I began to wonder if our group had all missed the flight. People trickled through the arrival door, but none were familiar faces. Finally we saw Weeksie with a broad grin on his face (and this meant I had won the bet of who would be first out!). He was laughing because despite forgetting his passport photos for the Visa on Arrival he was still first out. It transpired that he was not the only one to forget these photos, quite a few of the guys had but no problem US$1 and a photo from ypour passport was taken. Finally everyone was through, had met our Lao guides, Thongkhoon and Yee, changed money and then it was onto the bus heading for the hotel.
Dinner that night was at the Kong View restaurant on the banks of the Mekong (away from the earthworks). This was an opportunity for those in the group to get to know their travelling companions better.
Next morning Mike and I went out to the bikes prior to breakfast to observe that most had already been 'baggsed', this evident by the helmets hanging on mirrors. A bit of tweaking of levers and other things was required before we set off and then it was into the traffic - 16 bikes weaving through busy Vientiane roads. 13 clients riding, our two Lao guides, and Mike with me riding pillion. Jolie was the other pillion at this stage with the rest of the women in one of our two backup/luggage vehicles - except for intrepid Jan R who was the only woman riding her own motorbike.
The road out of Vientiane is not the most interesting, but riders were focused on the local traffic and the fact that we were on the other side of the road to what the New Zealandders were accustomed.
A drink stop, many photo stops and a cushion buying expedition for Joile and I (the back of the seat of an XR is very hard, and the carrier tray even more so!). We had another drink stop and then it was a slight detour to get to our lunch stop a few kilometres away on the side of a lake. And there was Sue on the back of Dave's bike, she had had enough of the car and wanted to feel the wind in her hair. Hmm, riding pillion is fine Sue but let's get you a helmet in Vang Vieng aye.
A simple but delicious lunch of Laos food and then back on the bikes to complete the journey to Vang Vieng. Sue was back in the car with Tina and Jan W...but only until she could find herself a snazzy helmet!