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Breakdown

DAY 236, KM 8599, Vientianne, Laos

sunny 40 °C

That's it. We're finished, we're kaput. There is nothing left in us to keep us going. For the past few days we have been searching out fancy hotels with airconditioning and passing the days horizontally.

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What happened?

April is the hottest month of the year in Laos. And that means over 40 degrees Celcius in the shade, plus 100% humidty. No problem if you just drink enough water, right? Wrong! At about 10am in the morning the temperatures have hit white people melting point. We have been drinking 5 plus liters each during our biking hours, and we still hardly ever pee! (I will stop there with the bodily details) Every once in a while one of us will turn completely red, start trembling, and almost faint.

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That's when we find a tree and lay in the dirt until we feel like we can go on. That is about every thirty minutes. When we finish our day, we are exhausted and the exhaustion doesn't seem to go away, even if we rest for a day. We aren't just talking about being uncomfortable anymore...we're talking about hitting the wall, and our bodies shutting down completely. Wim even tried to shave his head for some natural air conditioning:

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Apart from our bodies shutting down every 30 minutes, we have been quite disappointed with Laos. You see, Camobodia was challenging, but everyone we met along the way raved about Laos and it somehow kept us going. "The people in Laos are wonderful!" After hearing this from a ton of people, we had visions of shiny, happy people welcoming us into their lovely country with open arms. What a needed change after Cambodia! As we approached the border though, we soon realized that the guards were not going be be the huggable Laosians we had been expecting. No, they were big, mad and wanted bride money. They told us, "no money, no stamp." Apparently though, Wim would rather die than give money to corrupt authorities. The stand-off was long and really uncomfortable, but in the end they bended and gave us our stamp, because, well, that is their job after all.

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Unfortunately, this kind of set the tone for our southern Laos journey. As in Cambodia, restaurants are far and few between, people run away from us, and most people are too afraid to try to communicate. (This has resulted in a lack of biking fuel, and a skinnier Wim and Amy) However, the village people of Laos add a new dimension to our daily food challenge. When we go to a restaurant, we always ask the price first. After agreeing on a price, which is always a special tourist price, we sit down to eat. It turns out though, in Laos, that a full bowl of soup is a lot cheaper than an empty bowl of soup. When we go to pay, the price often triples, and sometimes has been known to jump tenfold! At one point the restaurant woman ended up asking 3 dollars for an agreed upon 1 dollar bowl of chicken broth... after a hand-gesture discussion, I figured it might have been a "misunderstanding" and gave the $3 to the women. At that point she yelled, "Thankyou!" aggressively in my face and started laughing like a wild hyena. So it really makes us wonder, where did all those shiny, happy people go?!

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After many of these incidences during our first week in Laos, we really started to feel drained. Often, during our time in small villages we feel like outsiders that are to be exploited, instead of respected as fellow human beings.

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The Last Straw

Amy began the week with diarrhea and naseau. Quickly, but surely, Wim was not far behind. Struggling to keep pushing on, we gathered our mental strength and made horribly slow trips to the next cities. As we were approaching the last city, we met a cow who was also having stomach problems. Just as Wim was passing around the backside of the cow, a great explosion occured on his leg. Needless to say... the cow felt relieved. And we felt totally defeated. We have now officially collapsed, we are completely physically and emotionally finished!

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Little did we know...

Little did we know that in just a few days things would take a turn for the worse. We would both find oursevles in the hospital, struggling to stay conscience...

Posted by amyandwim 01:37 Archived in Laos

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Comments

Wait a minute...are you both ok? I hope you are both ok and assume by the fact that you can write this, you are. Boy, to quote the Grateful Dead (and maybe you can appreciate their name in a different way now ;) ); what a long strange trip it's been. I hope you can get home as soon as possible and sit on the couch and eat chocolate and chips and drink a nice cold Belgian beer! Let us know what happened when you can! Godspeed!

by aliceschue

Hello

Whatever you decide to do, I wish you a lot of courage!

Take good care!

Marijke

by Marijke E

Oh my god!!! Where are you now!?!? Are they flying you back home to Belgium at least to recover? I need to know. Are u 2 joking? Are u ok? I'm calling your mother.

by wohalibean

HiiYa.. :)

Such a terriffic if somewhat scary adventure you guys are having.

Like lots of folks I found your site by accident following checking on my own old Blogs now, here in Travellerspoint. And I just clicked on your "Featured Site" on the Main Page of Travellerspoint.

Before I knew it I was addicted to reading about your exploits and am currently in Egypt. And I also read about your Laos trip too, which is where the scary part comes in.

The 40+ degrees heat and 100& humidty is the main killer at the best of times, but to be doing this on bikes is nothing short of suicidal really, but I guess thats what you don't need to be told as you already know. ;)

Nonetheless please please be carefull, when I was in the Sapa Mountains in North Vietnam I sometimes heard about the kidnapping of tourists for cash season, but ignorance is bliss really and I did not learn of this till I was moving south again.

I have subscribed to your Blog and hope to hear good news that your getting through this slowly but surely.

Whatever happens ~ Take good care of each other. One day you'll look back on all these truly amazing memories and thing "Jeez, we were so bloody naive and stupid"

Good luck & Cheers

by Raedor

I agree with stranger Raedor. I am the best friend... Going crazy here with these crazy ups and downs- You two could not have expected anything like this but I hope, at this point you reach your goal and come home. Be safe.

by wohalibean

Hilarious!! Also came across your blog on the tp main page, and couldn't help laughing out loud! I've just been in Cambodia and Vietnam and have found the heat utterly ridiculous (I've been born and raised in Africa so thought I could handle anything, but I was sooo wrong!). At Angor Wat I was at breaking point from heat exhaustion - also drinking massive amounts of water and NO need to go to the loo all day there!
Enjoy your travels, I will subscribe too if you don't mind.
Cheers, Dave

by Shlugger

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