Kiewkacam to Kasi, cooling off at Bor Nam Oon hotspring, Day 17.

I woke up early today. It was a chilly morning.  At 5.30am, the skies were just beginning to flicker into life, and as I breathed in the cold mountain air, it had that unmistakable freshness that just seemed to just open up your lungs when you draw it in deeply. But one thing was for sure …

I wasn’t taking a bath this morning.

As I made my way to the cafe next door for breakfast, Kiewkacam was still smothered with a thick mist but it was beginning to clear as the sun’s life-giving rays warmed the mountain tops. The town was slowly stirring to life, and as I sat there eating my steaming hot Pho, I saw a rather comical sight across the street…

It was the local dentist working on a patient. His clinic was the open porch of his house, and comprised little more than a few chairs, a table and an antiquated dentist drill. I don’t think his patients demand to see his qualifications before they sign on for treatment.

No dentist chair so the patient had to rest her head against the pillar. I didn't hear a single scream while she was being treated.

I left Kiewkacam with a good feeling about today’s ride. By all reckoning, we were heading down to the lowlands again. As it turned out I would still be traversing the tops of these mountain ranges for a while yet before it pointed downwards.

The ride started easy enough; just a few gentle climbs. Then came an exhilarating 3km of switchbacks downhill. It was also here that I met Helge Pederson, the head honcho of Globe Riders, an outfit that specialised in motorcycle tours, namely on BMWs. We had both stopped at the same vantage point to take some shots; he of his clients sweeping down the switchbacks below, and me of the mountains.

Helge Pedersen of Globe Riders


The exhilarating 3km downhill ... (click to enlarge)

It was quite an adrenaline rush to let gravity take over for these 3 awesome kms. Helge, who shoved off a little after I left him, was only able to catch me at the bottom of the downhill and as he passed me, he shouted “Hey, you were fast! I thought I could catch you but I couldn’t even see you”. I grinned and said goodbye to him.

The road was to climb twice for 8 km each time before it pointed downhill again. All this time, the majestic mountains were simply enthralling. For as far as the eye could see, all around me, it was green against a brilliant backdrop of white and blue. And where the sun broke through here and there, the contrast of shade and light were simply magical.


(click to enlarge)

At the 50 km mark, I rolled into the town of Phou Khoun, located at the crossroads to Phonsavan and Kasi, where I was heading for. I guess the only reason this town existed was because of this important junction. There was even a guest-house a little down the road in the direction of Phonsavan. Perched on the side of the mountain, as were almost all the houses in town, the views from the rooms must have been stunning.

For now, more important things await. The sun was overhead and the temperature was climbing rapidly; and I was hungry. So I stopped for lunch — fried rice and coke at a cafe overlooking the town square … or was it a triangle?

The town of Phou Khoun.

An hour later, I finally dragged myself out of the cool shade and into the bright sunshine. 5 km out Phou Khoun, it was a glorious 18 km of twisty downhill with the wind in my Buff-covered face. At the bottom, I knew I was finally out of the mountain range and, a short steep climb later, I arrived at Bor Nam Oon hot-spring resort. I had read about this place and most of the reviews were positive. Even though my original destination was Kasi, another 20km away, I made up my mind to stay here for the night instead.

As I stopped to take a closer look, the manager came running out from one of the 2 cafes across the road. A rather effeminate young fellow (he even sported green fingernails flecked with gold dust), he couldn’t speak a single word of English but 5 fingers held up meant he wanted ‘Har Sip’, or 50,000 Kip. I gestured for him to show me the room first, or rather, the mini bungalow.

Constructed completely of wood, the bungalows, all 5 of them,  were perched on the side of the hill and overlooked the hotspring. Inside, it was so tiny, there was only space for the bed, a little space to walk and the toilet. But it was cosy enough. Immediately after I checked in, I made my way to the hot-spring and joined 2 little boys playing there. The water was warm and the bottom was a little slimy with algae, but it was still nice. The people who ran the resort had done the smart thing by building a pool to contain the warm water to attract tourists.

Bor Nam Oon hotspring resort; 5 little bungalows on a hill...

...overlooking the hotspring and karst mountains behind. I whiled away the rest of the evening on the porch enjoying it all -- the setting sun, the tranquil atmosphere of the pool, and the serene mist-covered mountains in the background. Life was good...

The view of the pool from my bungalow

Next: Kasi to Vang Vieng; unhappy in a happy town.



Kiewkacam-Bor Nam Oon resort (Kasi) – 75km

Total ride time – 6 hrs

Total ascent – 1155m

Total descent – 1765m

Max elevation – 1380m

Min elevation – 575m

Total distance to date – 921km

Ride description:

From Kiewkacam, easy climbs followed by 3km fast, twisty downhill. Climbs start again at 22km mark, 8km long then downhill again. At 42km, climb another 8km then down a bit to Phou khoun. 5km from Phou Khoun, downhill for 18 km, followed by a short steep climb. Ends at Bor Nam Oon resort.

5 thoughts on “Kiewkacam to Kasi, cooling off at Bor Nam Oon hotspring, Day 17.

  1. Great fun to watch Bor Nam Oon from other peoples point of view.
    I live in Denmark. My wife is from Laos. About 6 years ago we were visiting the family in Kasi. There was some friends of the family as well to se us. One of them was a english speaking dentist. I couldent say his name so i just called him “doctor chili”. One morning he suggestet that we all took some cars to a small waterfall half hour away from Kasi. We loaded some crates of Beer Lao and cheap whiskey and went to what now is “Bor Nam Oon” At that time 6 years ago there was nothing but jungle around the water. You would have to know the place to find it. It was such a great trip. We spent some hours in the water, drank alot of beer and had a great day. Next day i couldent get the place out of my mind. I talked to my sister in laws husbond. He was working in the city administration in Kasi, about buying the place in build some bungalows and a restaurent for the tourist. 6 month later we start to build the 5 bungalows and the dinner cross the street and the rest is history 🙂 By the way: I made the blueprint for the bungalows. The drunken contractor who was to build it couldent figure out the different between “meters” and “yards” So the 3 meter i wrote on the blueprint became 3 yard (2,65m) That is way the room are so F…… small. By the time i saw the error (i live in denmark and is only in Laos every 5-6 months)it was to late to change it and it would be to expensive to do it all over.
    All in all we are in most way satisfied with the place and love to stay there whenever we are in Laos. It is nothing that fill up my bankaccount. It keeps the family busy and give them another income. At this time(fall2009) they are almost finishing 4 other rooms behind the bungalows, ready for the high season.The kitchen is much better, now that some of them have learned english. The steak is fine. I have been there 2 times this year and both times there was sold out. It’s a got feeling when people visiting the place, like it and recomend it to other visitors. and i also like their company when i am there.
    Thanks for the nice pictures
    Thomas McGovern and wife Pienkham Phetlavanh

  2. Hello Thomas, thanks for dropping by …and solving the mystery of the tiny bungalows for us. I’m sure one of these days, I will be soaking in the warm (and slimy) pool again, and eating things like ‘non-plutinous’ rice in the cafe 🙂


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