Leaving Don Det, leaving Laos on the bike. Bound for Stung Treng in Cambodia, roughly 60 miles to ride. Some odd stamp fees for both Laos and Cambodia border guards, spreading wealth for corrupt officers. Sarah waits for her bus there to depart, and looks forward to get a bicycle for herself to end the misery of the tourist track with me on bicycles.
An endless shadowless paved road with few settlements in the flat, hardly cultivated nor forested land. Sun is burning mad. A stopover at noon at a little shop with a very friendly family that invites me to lunch. I learn a first few phrases of Khmer since they speak Lao, and they even let me nap for half an hour on their wooden benches.
Sarah and I meet in Stung Treng, a neat town on the estuary of Sekong and Mekong. The following day, we buy a used mountain bike for 60 Dollar and prepare for our first ride together to Ratanakiri in Northeast Cambodia. Sarah manages the torture of the dirt road well, cycling approximately 30 miles in the heat and the dusty clouds of thundering by trucks and buses. Since there are no guesthouses until Banlung and there is no chance we can do the remaining 40 miles, we decide to hitch the remaining distance – taking it easy. Banlung is a small friendly town in the mountains, with beautiful waterfalls and a volcanic lake. We spend three nights in an Eco lodge in the jungle outside of town, roaming around by bicycle and feet through the forests, rubber tree plantations with black trunks, cashew trees and little villages. Shower underneath a waterfall, a red gloaming sunset on the volcanic lake. Splendid days and nights without electricity, cooking with the staff of the Eco lodge, playing the Ukulele and singing old songs from Johnny Cash, Lee Hazelwood and Terry Jack. Priceless... When we arrive back in Stung Treng, Sarah rode already more than 60 miles, and she's eager to go on by bicycle. What a girl!