Ban Pak Huai to Phu Rhea 35 kms (40 kms ‘assisted’)

Posted: April 7, 2015 in Mekong River Ride 2014
Tags: , , ,

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Rebooted and rearing to go today. Knocked out for 11 hours with a bad stomach, vomiting and missed dinner too

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familiar numbers at the market junction

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Rim Heuang Resort, a lot of space for Thb 350

Possibly the best place to stay in the village if you need wifi. Large open grounds and a restaurant and day market nearby. Being close to the Lao border crossing, I’m sure there will be more accommodation coming up. Those we saw were still under construction on the roads leading to Thai immigration a few kms out.

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We bought some drinks and used their wifi. The owner’s husband works on an oil rig in the South China Sea, off West Malaysia and has a slight Californian accent. He told us about a new bus service that runs from Loei city to Luang Prabang, thus avoiding the Route 13, mountain roads. And confirmed that the once fabled Tha Li border crossing (aka and more accurately Ban Na Kra Seng (Thailand) Nam Heaung (Lao) crossing is open to foreigners.

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Laos is just a short swim away. The Heuang river behind those bungalows.

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Friendly bridge, turn right

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Spanking new. We don’t need a visa to get into Laos, for that matter any of the ASEAN countries. If you do, it might be prudent to do some research and have the requisite US$/Baht equivalent and/or photographs handy.

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After 35 kms on another burning hot and hill day done, and another 40 or 50 km left to Dan Sai, we decided to hitch a ride in the middle of nowhere. Relatively nowhere as we saw convoys of luxury SUV’s churning up more dust along the 2195. Volvo XC 90’s and Porsche Cayennes, all with China or Lao ‘friendship’ decals plastered on their doors. Nope those wont stop to take 2 motley bicycles. After 30 minutes or so I see a pick up, and that grinded to a halt when Colleen put her thumb out. We’re saved.
Turns out he was not going to Dan Sai just part of the way, as he was going to Phu Rhea, a highland resort area that bordered the Phu Rhea National Park. Highlands, cool air, greenery … why not. After some gesturing that there was a T junction up ahead and that he would be turning left, up into the mountains, I decided that it was Phu Rhea for tonight. We also had only 3 days left to the trip and Phu Rhea was in the general direction east back to Udon Thani and not the far south to Dan Sai and Lom Sak, which would have to wait for an other time later this year.

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Somewhere in the 30 kms of steep gradients and impossible turns, our ride turns into a small dirt road. The pick up bounces along as our angel mutters off something like, for all I know could be, “I am an axe murderer and I could also use your bike tubes to weld me a new gate. I especially like that orange one with the 853 decal.”

He pulls in front of a half completed house. It does not look shabby at all. With it’s size and land around it, it will cost upwards of $3 million back home.

But here in the shadows of the Phu Rhea National Park where the hills are endless and wifi scanty, our friend steps out with a small plastic bag of lime and hands it over to his wife. Soon half the village appears to see his cargo of 2 bikes and panniers which could be welded into a nice small gate for his soon to be opulent farm house.

We got to Phu Rhea proper, ie. another 4 lane highway, in this case the 203, where the district office, official park entrance, hospital and bus station were, close to lunch time and I gladly thanked our saviour for his kindness. A photo, a pat on his shoulder and a small tip later, we loaded up and went in search of food.

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An angel (with a new Hilux) in red !

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Cooling down at Phu Rhea, Thb 600. It was nice change to be relaxing in a room at 3 pm instead of the usual after sunset check in that was the last 3 nights …. very nice. Easy bike parking outside the room on a small porch.
But today was Coleen’s turn to be knocked out from the heat. I suspect it was motion sickness from the pick up ride!  We’re trying this new plan. Head straight to bed or lie down before doing the ‘unnecessary necessaries’ Time wasters like, bath, laundry, unpacking…..which can be done after dinner. When sleep/rest calls, just go for it. It will be quick and restful. After I turn on the airconditioner.
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http://www.phuruaguesthouse.com If you spot this windmill, you’re there ! It comes with it’s own nurse, or rather a nurse works in a local hospital and manages this place too. Perfect English spoken, to the detriment of our ongoing Thai lessons. At least I do know that ‘jakrayan’ = bicycle.There are at least 3 other resorts/places to stay nearby. Phu Rua is actually hemmed in between two.

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‘Breakfast tent’ 15 deg C, till the sun shows up
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