Monday, 25 September 2017

LTF MR2 (7-15 August 2017), Day 5 : A kaleidoscope of events!!!

At Sangkhom Riverview Resort
Ethereal, Sangkhom Riverview Resort
When you travel with LTF, there's always time to have a pedicure...
...and a shower...
...transportations are varied from land... water...
...sometimes you scale a building to rescue a princess locked up in the high tower!!!
...other times, you shiver in fear !!!

This morning, the whole scene at Sangkhom Riverview was covered in a blanket of mist. Across the river, Laos looked ethereal, masked behind the same cloak of water vapour. Sipping coffee from the cosy dining room of the resort, we took delight in watching the sun slowly lifts the blanket of mist away.

A latecomer to the dining room, Celia was not as delighted when she found out her much awaited breakfast of bacon and eggs does not come with bacon!!! A specially arranged and pre-ordered spread, the hotel only had 10 tiny slices of bacon for the 10 pork eaters in our group. When Sue was served the non halal meat meant for Celia, Carolen was quick to take over her's. That was when the ration ran out...


They don't have anymore!!!!

We were all in a relaxed mood as we rode towards Pak Chom. A short 70 km ride, we were not in a big hurry to get there. Being playful, Alvin even started us off on an early morning butt lifting exercise as we rode along the quiet roads of Highway 211.

Plastic cups recycled as flowering pots
Coming down a mountain range one and a half hours later, we eagerly stopped at the first roadside stall we saw. After all, we've been huffing and puffing up the slopes and a cold Cha Ron was a good motivator to stop. The young girl manning the eco friendly stall was trying her very best to cope with our 11 orders of milk tea when Joy Napachnan came to her rescue in her brand new TOYOTA Fortuner.

An MBA holder from Bangkok University, Joy was the sweetest host we have ever met. Returning to her rural home, she is trying to make it big with this eco stall that also offers healthy egg omelette with unpolished brown rice. She shares with us her dreams of operating a home stay by the river. We can only wish her every success in escaping the rat race that she so wanted to leave behind!

Treading on, we were coming down yet another mountain range when we came upon a row of shops by the river. Meant as a scenic stopover, the whole place was closed, possibly out of business due to lack of visitors. It was noon and terribly hot by then. Carolen, seeing a tap by the corner of a shop decided to have a wash which later prompted Alvin to bless the others as well!!!

500m away from the shops by the river

The Roscoes though, were smarter! More observant, they spotted a tap and sink at the other end of the row where they could properly wash without having to bend over!

All this while, we have been traveling along the river. The route though is not flat, as we were no where near the river delta. The Mighty Mekong starting from Lasagongma Spring on the Tibetan plateau has to wind its way through 6 other countries before making its final dump in the South China Sea!

Close to 1 pm, we finally caught up with The Roscoes who had pushed on after the "baptism " of LTF's two loveliest ladies. These 2 veterans had rode on steadily, taking shorter rest stops than the rest of us.

United again, we rolled into a village and spotted a lunch stop. But again, The Roscoes carried on!!!

By Day 5, Sue was resigning herself to eggs! Most meals in this region serves pork with no choice of chicken or fish. Every single time, she had to settle for eggs and raw vegetables!!!

Leaving our lunch stop, we were taken aback when we spotted a nice looking cafe further down the road. It was puzzling to see a modern outfit sandwiched between dilapidated shophouses in a village with no more than 20 visible buildings. But we soon understood its economic viability as we spotted the golden backs of twin dragons curling its way up a staircase to Wat Si Chomchuen, a Buddhist temple up the slope.

We took on the challenge of more hills as we journeyed on. Even Carolen was exhausted, using her hand to pump her bad leg occurring from a freak bike accident in late 2015!

Stopping midway up a hill for regrouping, we noticed what looked like a funeral pyre. The land near the riverbank was cleared and in the center was the burnt remains of a rectangular structure made out of banana trunks. An open hall with asbestos roof and toilets could only be the reception area!

Leaving the sacred place to perform the last rites of passage for Thai people, we continued scaling to the hill top. Rolling down was a breeze, until we reached the bottom of the hill...

Coming down fast, the ones ahead had long disappeared. "Which way?" Claudine slowed down and shouted. Just then, Carolen shot ahead and veered to the right. She was about to question her when she spotted the sign board for Pak Chom and followed suit! Meanwhile, George and Wendy took the left turn....returning later by instinct to see Alvin waiting at the fork!

A few kilometers ahead, we came upon a bridge reconstruction works. Planks were placed temporarily on the deck to facilitate crossings. KC was first to roll past. Following behind was Claudine, Sue and VT...

Now when Captain Hook made Wendy walk the plank, she went right to the edge and fell over. Away from the lost boys, Sue fell as well!!!

Following the story of Peter Pan, Wendy was caught by Peter in midair. Sadly, Sue went crashing down!!! Shaving off a few milligrams during her earlier pedicure at Joy's could have shifted her sense of stability. We were beginning to wonder if she is Brompton's appointed crash test dummy crashing twice in less than 48 hours!!!!

With less than 10 km more to complete our day's toiling, we pushed on. Midway, we bumped into The Roscoes who were having a water break by a paddy field. Nope, they have not had lunch!

Rolling into Mekong Riverside Resort and Camping, we were greeted by the loud barks of their 2 resident dogs. They were harmless, even turning friendly when Mike stepped out to meet us. A Canadian married to a Thai; Mike and Ben were the perfect hosts in this tropical paradise resort. 

Located in a shady rubber estate, just next to the river, their four chalets were all beautifully decorated with modern amenities. Every unit has glass sliding doors that opens up to a patio with wooden deck and armchairs, making it a perfect place to enjoy a sundowner.

While we took turns to shower and finish the day's laundry, The Roscoes were spotted on the patio, celebrating their years of matrimony over a cocktail. The Lees were soon to follow, packing us off on our boat trip on the Mekong River.

We felt like children, conned into a summer camp so the adults could have some
"ME" time. So it is that while we baked in the hot evening sun with nothing to see other than water, trees and long grass, the Lees were on "fantasy island", all enjoyed from the comforts of their air conditioned room!

That night, we were treated to a lovely dinner cooked by Ben. Her best dish could very well be masaman curry. Cooked with exotic spices that tingled our tongue, it also reacted with our brain receptors. Feeling euphoric, we had a wonderful time reliving past LTF tours and hiccups!

Photo Credits :
1. KC
2. Ped Al


Mekong Riverside Resort and Camping :

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