Ting Tong's backside
I spent a fair amount of time this morning flat on my back in the middle of the road, fag in mouth and can of coke within reach. I was inspecting TT's undercarriage for any obvious signs of an exhaust hole. I found nothing out of the ordinary and the exhaust and its various nuts and bolts all seemed OK. The exhaust manifold (I think that's what it was) looks a bit rusty and so that may be the cause of the random noise on route 13. Ants started the engine and revved away while I poked around- the noise wasn't there anymore. Perhaps we had just picked up a stone or something on the drive and it had now gone. Anyway, we will be keeping our ears peeled. I did the usual tightening of the bolts under the handlebars as we break in TT's suspension further. If it keeps going on like this then we will be driving into Brighton on our nose. I am a pretty useless mecahnic, but look like I know what I am doing when armed with a 2ft long wrench, covered in dirt and oil and lying flat on my back under TT.
Anyway, enough about TT and more about us. She is getting all of the attention on this trip and is danger of becoming a bit spoilt and pampered; we will come back to England driving the Paris Hilton of tuk tuks and will have accumulated a ridiculously small dog that looks a bit like a rat and craps everywhere. Soon she will be deciding what we listen to on our soundsystem and flirting with other tuk tuks- this type of behaviour is totally unacceptable.
So, today was our first and last full day in Luang Prabang, which totally sucks as it is a wicked place. Not wicked as in, yeah wicked man, but just a lovely town. Although it is well developed for travellers it is not brash and unnatractive like Vang Vieng. It has an air of France about it, baguettes, coffee, quaint houses with colourful shuttered windows. The town itself is a World Heritage Site and is crammed full of temples, on top of being situated on the mighty Mekong. There is a real atmosphere about this place, something that is difficult to put your finger on, but that draws you to stay for awhile. We don't have the option to stay and explore and so today we jumped in a boat and travelled up the Mekong to visit Pak Ou caves. As far as caves go they weren't mind blowing- what was interesting about them is that they were full of stone, metal and wooden Buddhas, which just sat in small communities within the caves. The signs in the cave said that it is against the law in Laos to take images of Buddha out of the country, so that was a random fact for the day. The boat journey took 2 hours upstream and half the time downstream. There is something very relaxing about journeying down the rivers here, surrounded by mountains, trees and the odd small settlement. It certainly beats a cruise down The Thames. I became totally engrossed in a book Ants lent me called The Kite Runner- if you haven't read this book then I suggest you get your hands on a copy, it is compulsive and absorbing reading.
Now I am going to phone our tuk tuk guru Anuwat from Expertise (TT's place of birth) to try and do some more troubleshooting. We now don't have a day off for over 2 weeks until we reach Xian in China, so we will be eating a lot of tarmac. Somewhere along the way we need to stop and get a service for our pink madam.
Thank you to Stuart from Travelfish (one of our brill sponsors) for recommending some places to stay- we loved Riverside Bungalows in Vang Vieng, although TT didn't love driving to and from them.
Ants has gone off for a massage now, which she deserves after going for a half hour run this evening. While she was pounding the pavement and being healthy I took the opportunity to crank up the volume nob of our TV, crack open another can of coke and smoke lots of fags. When I get back to England I swear I am going to give up the fags and coke and start exercising properly again. Ants has threatened to drag me off for a run- we will have to see about that.
Goodnight from Laos and until next time when I satisfy my blogging addiction. xo