The sgBikerBoy 2016 Trip – Day 23

13 Jul 2016, Wednesday. I decided to remain in Luang Prabang for one more night. So this gives me some time to explore the area. Woke up at 5am in the morning to witness the traditional daily alms giving ceremony, but I didn’t get to see too many monks. In fact, I was waiting in my room with my balcony door ajar, waiting to hear some commotion – my signal to dash out to watch the ceremony. I didn’t hear any. So I walked out to the balcony only to see the last remaining monks briskly, swiftly and very silently walking by. Ahhh… Maybe tomorrow.

The morning market.
The morning market.
I concluded that the Laotians are super tidy people. Look at how they take the effort to arrange the veg on sale for the day.
I concluded that the Laotians are super tidy people. Look at how they take the effort to arrange the veg on sale for the day.

Another stall in the morning market. They sell everything here - from fresh meat, to rice, to vegetables, to fruits, and even the more exotic stuff like eels, frogs, larvae, and live birds.
Another stall in the morning market. They sell everything here – from fresh meat, to rice, to vegetables, to fruits, and even the more exotic stuff like eels, frogs, larvae, and live birds.
Breakfast in a local French restaurant. Panini! Many restaurants in Luang Prabang cater to the western tourists.
Breakfast in a local French restaurant. Panini! Many restaurants in Luang Prabang cater to the western tourists.
The nice lady at the entrance allowed me to park my bike within the compound of Wat Xieng Thong. I think this is the main temple in Luang Prabang. Entrance fee - 20,000K.
The nice lady at the entrance allowed me to park my bike within the compound of Wat Xieng Thong. I think this is the main temple in Luang Prabang. Entrance fee – 20,000K.
There are multiple structures within the large'ish compound. This is one of them. The door is locked. See that blackish patch there? I postulated that it must be the area where most people will attempt to push the door open. It's exactly at the face of the guy on the right door. I guess they must have been sick of people slapping this poor fella that they've decided to lock it up.
There are multiple structures within the large’ish compound. This is one of them. The door is locked. See that blackish patch there? I postulated that it must be the area where most people will attempt to push the door open. It’s exactly at the face of the guy on the right door. I guess they must have been sick of people slapping this poor fella that they’ve decided to lock it up.
Inside the main temple of Xieng Thong, I spotted a horizontal beam hanging from the ceiling. It was painted in gold and had carvings of dragons on both ends. On one end, I noticed a blue plastic plumbing stuck to the bottom of it. I guess this must be where they collect dragon piss.
Inside the main temple of Xieng Thong, I spotted a horizontal beam hanging from the ceiling. It was painted in gold and had carvings of dragons on both ends. On one end, I noticed a blue plastic plumbing stuck to the bottom of it. I guess this must be where they collect dragon piss.
Sculpture of Buddha sitting high up within the main temple Xieng Khong.
Sculpture of Buddha sitting high up within the main temple Xieng Khong.
Detail of a structure within the temple.
Detail of a structure within the temple.
Multiple statues of Buddha of various sizes and heights.
Multiple statues of Buddha of various sizes and heights.
Carving on one of the temple doors. This must be Buddha with his wife before he gained enlightenment.
Carving on one of the temple doors. This must be Buddha with his wife before he gained enlightenment.

No trip to Luang Prabang will be complete with a visit to the nearby Kuang Si Waterfalls. It’s 22km away from Luang Prabang, but estimated to take about an hour to reach. And so off I went.

Barely 8km into the trip, somewhere along a remote stretch of road – as in no settlements around, but tuk tuk filled with tourists and locals on the scooters do ply this road, I felt a sudden loss of engine power. GASP! I had to throttle harder than usual to get moving. And every time I changed gear, I could feel the bike throwing me forward.

Shit! Really?!

Getting myself stranded. Again.
Getting myself stranded. Again.

So I found a safe stretch – to give enough time for the vehicles from both the rear and front to spot and avoid me – and stopped by the road check. And as I was approaching the kerb, I felt a sudden deceleration force.

Put my kickstand down and looked back. My rear brakes were smoking!! Turns out, my rear brakes have seized up!

Oh dear, dear, oh dear. As the rear wheel have locked up, I couldn’t even push the bike closer to the kerbside. So I set the bike on the mainstand which helped somewhat to make it lean a little less into the main road.

I tried rotating the rear wheel, but it was frozen stiff. Now what?! Desperate, I tried to turn on 3G data on my phone, and thought I’ll scream for help online. But it turns out that there’s no cellphone reception in that area. Really??!

So what do I do now? I was starting to cook inside my helmet and my riding jacket. Perhaps like what we used to say during my military days – cannot think with the helmet on. So I removed my helmet and the riding jacket.

Think! Think! What shall I do? Bleed the brakes out here? No way! I don’t have replacement brake fluids. Check the brake fluid level? Looks okay to me. Seized piston? I don’t know – too hot to touch.

Then I started pumping hard on the brake pedal. And after several pumps, I tried rotating the rear wheel by hand. Ahh! Seem a little looser now. But still binding. So after several pumps with me literally using almost my entire body weight to depress it, the rear brakes started loosening up! It still doesn’t rotate as freely as I know it to be (I had just done chain maintenance in the morning and the feel of the free-spinning wheel is still fresh in my mind), but at least it’s now rotatable.

So, should I carry on to the falls? Or should I head back to town? Arghh… WTH. I’ll just carry on with the trip and use my front brakes. Take it slow, and I should be fine. Of course, I kept reminding myself that if I ABSOLUTELY had to use the rear brakes to prevent an accident, JUST USE IT.

I reached the parking area at the falls. This little guy demanded 2,000kips for the parking fee. After I gave him the money, I demanded for a photograph in return.
I reached the parking area at the falls. This little guy demanded 2,000kips for the parking fee. After I gave him the money, I demanded for a photograph in return.

According to a local legend, Kuang Si falls, also known as Tat Kuang Si, were formed by an old man who dug deep into the earth and found the waters of Nam Si. And when the waters flowed into Kuang Si, a golden deer made its home under a rock in the falls. The sound of the water falling onto this rock created an enchanting sound that drew people from as far away as China to the falls. So Tat Kuang Si got its name from here – ‘Tat’ means waterfall, ‘Kuang’ means deer, and ‘Si’ means dig.

This is the lower level plateau of the Kuang Si Falls.
This is the lower level plateau of the Kuang Si Falls.
Another view of Kuang Si falls.
Another view of Kuang Si falls.
The waters in Tat Kuang Si appear emerald in color due to the high calcium carbonate content.
The waters in Tat Kuang Si appear emerald in color due to the high calcium carbonate content.
The main fall in Tat Kuang Si! This is probably the most amazing waterfall I've seen in this trip so far!
The main fall in Tat Kuang Si! This is probably the most amazing waterfall I’ve seen in this trip so far!
...and so, how could I miss a selfie moment! Cheese!
…and so, how could I miss a selfie moment! Cheese!

And after reaching the main fall, I’ve read from somewhere that there’s a higher-level pool. And so I saw the stairs to the right of the main fall, and started climbing. Then I reached a crossroad. Now left or right? I rolled the dice and decided to go right.

It was a tough climb, with very slippery mud roads. Thankfully it hasn’t rained recently, and the ground was relatively dry. And when I reached the summit, I saw….

…nothing! There was no view, no pool, no waterfall. Only a wide patch of farmland, with a farmer and her daughter plucking weeds, tilling the soil and planting seeds.

What?! I spent 15 mins climbing this and nothing here? So I just hung around a little while in a vain attempt to justify that climb.

Should've taken a 4WD up instead of climbing.
Should’ve taken a 4WD up instead of climbing.
Chatted with the farmer and her daughter. Then I asked for a picture.
Chatted with the farmer and her daughter. Then I asked for a picture.

Then I started making my way down the same path. And when I reached the bottom, I saw a group of tourists taking the left path up. (Remember? I went right?) Okay – this must be it! So I followed them up. OMG! This is even more treacherous than the previous climb! I had to take frequent breaks in between as I was running out of breadth and energy – remember I just came down from a climb.

Almost there... Just some wooden bridge to cross.
Almost there… Just some wooden bridge to cross.
I went for a swim! The water was cold!
I went for a swim! The water was cold!
Searching for food after walking down from the Kuang Si Falls. 5,000K each stick.
Searching for food after walking down from the Kuang Si Falls. 5,000K each stick.
As I was chewing on the satay, I made friends with the stall owner's 3 daughters - Grumpy, Baby, and Happy. I took this photo, printed it on my LG Pocket Photo printer and gave it to them. Grumpy still wasn't impressed.
As I was chewing on the satay, I made friends with the stall owner’s 3 daughters – Grumpy, Baby, and Happy. I took this photo, printed it on my LG Pocket Photo printer and gave it to them. Grumpy still wasn’t impressed.
Instead, the mother was impressed and requested for a few more pics... See? Grumpy doesn't smile.
Instead, the mother was impressed and requested for a few more pics… See? Grumpy doesn’t smile.
...and Happy was just so sweet.
…and Happy was just so sweet.
Happy was very happy after receiving her very own pic.
Happy was very happy after receiving her very own pic.
After dipping into the pool up there, I decided to skip this outdoor pool.
After dipping into the pool up there, I decided to skip this outdoor pool.
When I got back into town, I headed to a mechanic to get my rear brakes serviced. He cleaned out the banjo bolts, the rear master cylinder, and topped up the brake fluid. 80,000kips.
When I got back into town, I headed to a mechanic to get my rear brakes serviced. He cleaned out the banjo bolts, the rear master cylinder, and topped up the brake fluid. 80,000kips.
I wandered around the remoter part of Luang Prabang, and spotted someone cooking over a firewood stove.
I wandered around the remoter part of Luang Prabang, and spotted someone cooking over a firewood stove.
Luang Prabang at sunset.
Luang Prabang at sunset.
Luang Prabang, sunset, and the Mekong river.
Luang Prabang, sunset, and the Mekong river.

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