Next on the list of things to do and see was Tham Kong Lo cave, a seven kilometer river through a mountain. The best way we found to get there was to go to Tha Khaek and rent scooters for the 200 km ride to the small village near the cave. We were recommended Mr. Coo, but he was out of scooters, so we got a deal from Mr. Andy, who had bargain scooters, and we soon found out why. This was the first time on an manual scooter for me, well semi manual; gears but no clutch. The ride there was smooth, but I could foresee problems in the future for our scooter that was held together with rubber-bands, especially when it failed to button start, then failed to kick start, and we were forced to push start it from there on out. We had a good night with our little motorcycle gang, and caught some shut eye at a great little roadside place. The cave was really like entering the underworld. We paid our boatman the 115,000 kip for the three of us, our old pal Dominic included, and took off motoring our way through Hades. We watched the light at our backs fade to nothing, and the ceiling of the cave grow to cathedral heights. Our little wooden boat slowly filled with water, and as we ascended deeper we had to get out and walk through a stalactite forrest as our boatman took our boat out of site around a corner. We were all relieved to find him again. This place was like the cave in Pirates of the Caribbean to the tee, minus the pirates and the gold. It was great watching our guides force the little canoe up the rapids, looking like cave gnomes with there little lights on their heads. When we emerged into the light of this new world, it was raining, but worth it as we saw the mist climbing over the peaks of the mountain we just passed under. A few minutes break, then it was back. This was a killer experience.
Our gang decided that 120 miles in the rain was a bit much with our close consisting of shorts and tee-shirts, so we opted to stay for another night. Then, with our gang bidding us farewell early, Nima and I embarked on the journey home solo, with our jankey, rubber band bound scooter. We could feel the transmission slipping as we wound through the mountain pass in 1st gear, the foot break hit the ground on left turns, and we discovered a strange clunking sound that continued non stop, till the chain broke. Man it was fun. Next we got to flag down a truck, hoist the scooter into the back, and get dropped off the nearest mechanic, who found my pink bandana and beard to be the funniest thing ever and spent the entire time fixing it laughing. They overcharged us, but I straitened them out, to the laughs of all the towns people who had gathered around to see the new clown. We spent the next 50 miles nursing the transmission which was bound to crap out at any time. At one point, with 30 miles left to go, it did just that, but with Nimas last push start, we made it all the way back. I really feel like I know a lot more about these machines now, thanks to Mr. Andy.
We spent Valentines at our guesthouse in Tha Khaek, drinking Lao Lao and beer with some new found friends. The next day we hauled our sore butts to Savannakhet, home of the Lao Dinosaur Museum. This town offers the best busses to Hue, in Vietnam, and other than that, not a whole lot else. This museum, though, was one of the coolest I have ever seen. It reminds me of a junior high school gym, and is home the the bones of a stegosaurus, which they found without having to dig, just right there in the surface. When we asked them why they didn't hang some bones on the walls, our guide said they were to heavy, we asked how heavy, then he took us into the back room to just, ya know, pick up some 200 million year old dinosaur bones, so we could feel for ourselves just how heavy they were. Our guide was digging them out since the beginning and we saw him in the video about the excavation. So like I said it was one of the coolest museums ever, I picked up dinosaur bones for under a buck. Tonight we head to Vietnam on a night buss, so I must bid you farewell, and khawp jai lai lai for reading. Happy bleated Valentines Day to everyone and remember if you kiss someone, your kissing everyone they kissed, which is only like 3 steps away from Keith Ritchards, so what do you think about that?