Pictured is the type hut I have stayed in here. Cycling in Laos is truly a new experience for me because I've mainly cycled in Europe and America. Biggest difference? The overwhelming friendliness! In every single village the smiling kids line the road jumping up and down squealing with excitement "Sah bah dee! Sah bah dee!" (hello, hello) and hoping for a "Hi Five" from me as I bike by. Yesterday I kid you not, on two separate occasions I was forced to take two big shots of Lao Lao (80 proof rice alcohol). Here it is an insult to refuse a drink and they didn't seem to understand my video about alcohol and bodybuilding not mixing so I tried my best to down it without gagging or making faces. The first time I had to do shots was in a little village where I stopped to see what festival was taking place. Before I had even swung my leg over the seat, a smiling man was holding up two fingers in the clear universal sign language that I was to drink two shots to toast the newlyweds. The second time that day was at dinner when the owner of the restaurant came out and insisted on another two burning shots. Given the amount of calories I'm burning off cycling, I didn't worry too much about the calories. Truly the friendliest country I have ever been to.
The cycling here is amazing and it's much safer than in America because here there are not many roads or vehicles and they are used to driving slow around pigs, dogs, and school kids on bikes. The roads are excellent in parts and bone jarring rough in others, I am so happy I didn't bring my travel bike with it's tiny wheels because I would have had to walk a lot.
The accommodations here are not so posh as we westerners are used to. A delux place will have masonry walls, a flushing toilet (no toilet paper), a sink, a lukewarm dribbling shower and a saggy bed with a mosquito net and fan ( no AC). Low end will have a river for bathing, an outhouse, and a thin pad on the floor of the families one room bamboo hut for sleeping. Delux compared to camping so Im happy even with accommodations like that.
Staying healthy is a big, big challenge here. I've already had a mild flu (probably from the flight over) and my digestion has been marginal. My western guts have no tolerance built up yet for all the local micro-flora and micro-fauna. Considering I'm in a country where bathrooms never have soap or any way to wash your hands, I've actually been quite lucky and have not missed a day of cycling. It's funny, back home when I shiver, my first thought is that I'm cold, here it's: 1) did I eat bad food? 2) do I have the flu? or 3) Do I have malaria despite my precautions? I seem to shiver a lot here.
Im very glad I was nutritionally prepared by bringing sufficient protein power. Plenty of great veggies and carbs gere but lowfat protein is very, very difficult to find. The quality of the meat is much lower than us westernerss are used to. No such thing as ordering a chicken breast, the meat dishes are very sparse on the meat, heavy on the gristle, heavy on the oil, and light on the quantity. To get the equivalent protein of a chicken breast would require ordering a lot of dishes, massive calories, and LOTS of chewing. The best thing is to order lots of carbs and veggies and have a scoop of protein powder back in your room. Hey, that's what I do at home :)
I'll cover travel nutrition in a later video. Fresh drinking water is bottled only.
Tomorrow I'm in a "big" town and it reportedly has a gym. I'm really excited to check it out before heading out of town to see what it's like.