Day 30 : Trike mending in Luang Prabang

This is not a murder mystery blog so news up top – we are back in business thanks to the wonderful bike guys at Tiger Trail Travel.  There were no bike shops as such in Luang Prabang but TTT offered bike repair services as well as hiring out bikes for their travels.  So we pushed the trikes the 1.7km to their offices and asked for their help.

We could not recommend these guys too highly – please look them up if you are in Luang Prabang.

We were introduced to “Mr Mee” who was the lovely bike mechanic and clearly a bike person.  He had never seen a trike before but loved the idea of our travels in his country and was determined to get us back on the road so we could continue.  A short inspection confirmed his technical assessment of the derailleur – it needed replacement.  Fortunately (and purposefully) I had not damaged the derailleur hanger – the bit which is particular to the trike.  Getting that replaced would involve a part from Europe – but the derailleur itself is a standard bit of kit.

He asked us to come back later and said he would do his best.  We then spent an anxious day mooching around whilst we waited for the outcome.  However, as we ambled into the town, we met Tabitha and her partner (sorry – senior moment and name eludes me) who we met in Huay Xai.  We chatted and then joined them for breakfast at a lovely cafe, along with Matthais from Austria.  Tabitha and her partner are both from Germany but are studying in Holland – with all psychology teaching in English.  Matthias is from Austria.  They have all taken a break from studies or work to travel across this part of the world.  Like quite a few young people we have met, they are taking time out after university because (and this is my formulation) they know they will be working for decades ahead and so have worked hard, saved and then taken time out of working life to travel and experience the world rather than just remaining on the treadmill of work at home. 

Just for amusement – flying triffids??

Lovely chatting to them – and of course they wanted to try to understand the idiocy of Brexit.  They just could not understand how people in the UK had lost their collective minds by voting to leave the EU and hence lose all the benefits for citizens of EU membership.  Like so many young people we have met here, those benefits included citizens from one EU country living and working freely in another EU country.

We struggled to try to explain what was going on in the UK but broadly shared their perspectives – after all we have an EU flag on our trikes.  But also trying to explain the complex mood in the UK in the aftermath of the financial crash, the feelings of those left out by economic progress and the painting of the EU as the cause of some of their problems (wrong in our view but lodged in the minds of so many in the UK).  It’s all post-Empire heart not head we tried to say, but it is the whole country that is left with the cost of the heart based decision.

Later we ambled around the old town, walked along the banks of the Mekong and waited for trike news.  We had a nice lunch overlooking the Mekong and managed to relax a bit but still glanced at the phone from time to time to see if there were any messages.

At about 3pm we went nervously back to TTT and found the derailleur fixed thanks to a new part sourced from somewhere that is not in any google directory.  Not the same part as before but doing the same job.  Mr Mee wanted to replace the cables and clean chains so we left it another hour or so, collecting the trikes at 5.30 when they were better than before.  Such a relief.  The cost of the new part was just $30 so we ordered a second one (just in case) and then chatted bike stuff and other things with Mr Mee and his colleagues (he spoke more than enough English), met his daughter and felt so much gratitude.

Mr Mee, his assistant and us with functioning trikes

We then cycled into town and had a celebratory drink in a rooftop bar where we met Chris, a just retired banker from Austria who is travelling with is wife (just retired from the UN) in slightly more comfort than us across South East Asia.  Great chats, lots of exchange of local knowledge as the sun went down.

Finally, we went to the night market and had something to eat – sharing a table with a couple of Swedish students who are real “gap year” travellers, much more akin to the way our children travelled. Then back to our nice but slightly dodgy hotel near the bus station on our now fully functioning trikes.  Huge relief and, after a very international day, we can now enjoy Luang Prabang before the next stage of our travels.

18 thoughts on “Day 30 : Trike mending in Luang Prabang

      1. so glad you now have your visa! and mended trikes!!
        and come to that, that you have actually had a pampering day!!!

        and provided your friends with a celebration!!!!

        You are good people!!

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