Thoeng to Phu Chi Fa - 45km
The morning riding becomes more rural with limited eating options. Recommend eating in the town of Thoeng before departure. Ride starts easy, from 25km in it becomes more physically demanding, until an impossible struggle to the top of Phu Chi Fa.
We left Thoeng at the crack of dawn and made a move north to our destination. Still with a full stomach from the night before and keen to hit the road, we opted for a later breakfast. Eating options are limited though, so we struggled to find something decent.
The road gradually becomes harder and more uphill (around 25km from Thoeng). The road then suddenly takes a long deep plunge into a valley, leading to a town wedged in the very bottom of the bottom. I believe this town was called Wat Pang Po, we stopped here for lunch, with curious locals enquiring into what we were doing. "Phu Chi Fa" we say excitingly... To the amusement of the locals explaining to each other what we were doing and pointing at the bikes. With the beautiful language of charades, they give us a clear indication of the gradient of the road. Hmm...
After finishing our lunch and contemplating our next move, being a vertical ascent in the heat of the day, one of the men eating in the restaurant pulls up with a 4x4, offering us a lift to the top.
And right were the villagers. The road was so steep for a whole 11km, in appalling conditions, potholes scattering the road. We duly contributed to his effort with a few baht and offloaded our bikes to the abundance of accommodation that is in the mountain village.
The average price when we were there was 400baht for a night, however we found a bunch of bungalows being developed and we stayed in an unfinished one (no light) for 150 baht.
In this small tourist town (for Thai tourists predominantly) there is a few eating options overlooking the west in the beautiful valley. To get from here to the viewpoint, it is another uphill battle to the top. We decided to hike it ourselves and again, we were offered a lift which we accepted after the hard days work. The sunset is fantastic, with a sense of being on top of the world, but the more popular sight of the sun coming through the morning low clouds over Laos is on another level.