I woke up at 6:30 when a monk started chanting. I had 150 km to Kong Lor cave so was glad to get an early start.

I set off across the bridge over the new reservoir, leaving the tiny village behind and continuing north on the unnamed road. The first portion of the ride was through forest, much of it underwater from the new dam. Dead trees protruded from the water ominously. There were no towns on this part of the ride.

The road was new and really nice. Probably the best I’ve ridden in Laos. But then the nice part ended. It became dirt, then partially finished gravel. Piles of gravel filled the road. Workers were busy building the road, mostly with shovels and pickaxes. There was a lot of dust from the traffic, but there were some nice views of idyllic countryside.

Misty mountain.
Misty mountain.

This reminded me of the poorly-named “Death Highway” in Cambodia. Online accounts about that road talk about a treacherous muddy dirt ox car path that twists and turns through the mountains. But it’s all paved now. In a few years this road will be all paved too. The Loop will not be quite adventurous as it once was.

Eventually I came to the town at the crossroads with Route 8, another major East/West highway that goes all the way to Vietnam. I stopped for lunch in a little restaurant. Once again, food was surprisingly expensive for Asia, but the dumpling soup was pretty impressive.

There were more idyllic views as I went west on Route 8. I have been on a plateau since yesterday, so there were some views looking down to the plain far below.

Soon the road through this rustic village will be paved.
Soon the road through this rustic village will be paved.

Finally the road twisted down to the flat plain. I turned off towards the cave. The road to it is 50 km long and ends at the cave, making it a sort of dead end side trip. But Kong Lor cave is said to be quite spectacular, and is the culmination of riding The Loop. Once again I was in an idyllic landscape of green fields and karts cliffs. The scenery on this stretch was some of the nicest of The Loop.

I stopped at the first place I found, a little resort far off the road. It’s on a little stream under some karst cliffs. It’s quite scenic. It’s on Agoda, so there are quite a few tourists there who booked ahead. Since I didn’t reserve, I could bargain. The basic bungalow didn’t have en suite, so I negotiated the price from 150,000 to 50,000 kip. Once again, the food is pretty fantastic. But it’s not really what the locals eat.

Peaceful pasture.
Peaceful pasture.
More misty mountains.
More misty mountains.
Funky mountains.
Funky mountains.
A beautiful place to live.
A beautiful place to live.
On the road to the mountains.
On the road to the mountains.
A cow at work.
A cow at work.
Where does this road go?
Where does this road go?
I followed the dirt path for a while.
I followed the dirt path for a while.
It kept going towards the mountains, which are quite far from the main road.
It kept going towards the mountains, which are quite far from the main road.
The scenery on the road to the cave was beautiful.
The scenery on the road to the cave was beautiful.
Maybe I use the word "idyllic" too much.
Maybe I use the word “idyllic” too much.
Rustic bridge.
Rustic bridge.
Traveling alone, I never kayak. But I take pictures of other people kayaking.
Traveling alone, I never kayak. But I take pictures of other people kayaking.
Beautiful place for bungalows.
Beautiful place for bungalows.
Terry
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

Like what you read? Have a question?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge