For my solo trip to Laos, I wanted to jam pack my itinerary with adventure. So river tubing, kayaking, cave exploration, hiking and 3 day Thakhek bike tour were high on my list. Luckily, I managed to do all of that however with some minor drawbacks. Like I had to request the airline to provide me a wheelchair upon my return as I met with a unfortunate accident during the Thakhek loop, but hey – that’s a story for another day.
Today, I want to share my amazing dirt biking experience in Vang Vieng with Uncle Tom’s Trails. It is perhaps the only activity in Laos with absolutely zero negative reviews. To be honest, the only reason I wanted to try this was because of all the raving five star reviews on Tripadvisor.
Curiosity got the best of me and I got in touch with Tom to book my slot. Another girl from the hostel decided to tag along when I told her about the thrilling adventure that awaited me – Yes, I kind of did sell it to her, afterall, there was a discount for 2 people.
What is dirt biking with Uncle Tom all about?
On D day I was both nervous and excited. Surely, I drive a automatic all the time but these dirt bikes are mean ass – heavy and fully manual. No wonder, I was hesitant.
Uncle Tom, as people fondly call him, is a Britisher who moved to Laos for the love of it. Laos is, indeed, a place you can instantly fall in love with and I could totally relate to his ideals of doing what he wanted and making a living off his passion for biking.
He was kind, sweet and very patient.First he explained everything about his mean machines (I am talking about the bikes) to both of us – the gear, breaks and clutch and asked us to simply start and stop the bike a few times.
Next we were told to ride in circles – alone, of course. It was fun and after around 30 mins, I got a hang of it.
Before heading off, we were asked to sign a simple contract. Nothing unusual as is the case with most adventure activities like paragliding, bungee jumping, sling shot and the likes.
Then we drove off amidst the mountains and valleys on 3 different kickass bikes, surrounded by the lush natural beauty of Laos. As I gained confidence I kept going faster and enjoyed every bit of the fresh breeze in my hair.
I thought it was the perfect adventure, but then, it got even better.
We reached a huge dirt covered ground, almost as big as a soccer field.
Then, Tom explained how I had to come at him from the other end of the huge ground at full speed and press all breaks as soon as I approached him. I was like – Whattttt? Won’t the bike skid? He grinned and said “Exactly.” I was petrified.
With adrenaline pumping I drove to the end of the ground then zoomed towards where Tom was standing – as fast as I could. As I approached him, I hit the brakes, hard. No skid. I was relieved. Tom, on the other hand looked disappointed. He asked me to go back and this time try not to drive like a girl (No, he didn’t say that, but he meant it, I just knew it). So, this time I rode faster, which means I wasn’t really going as fast the first time around. Obviously I was scared of hitting this man standing in the middle of the field if I don’t hit the brakes on time (I really don’t know what his plan B was, incase that did happen but I salute his bravery). Maybe he knew I was good, I managed to hit all brakes hard as I approached him and the bike skidded , he smiled.
Then, I got it. So this was what the fuss was all about – The adrenaline rush, the stunts and going all out and trusting yourself and each other.
My friend (Aka girl from hostel) was also told to repeat what I just did and then we moved on to drive in circles, stand on the bike, skid more and go sideways swaying as low to the ground as we could. This was FANTASTIC.
We had a blast.
Then we drove off for another 30-40 mins, enjoying the drive up long, winding, hilly roads.
We met an old man, a friend of Tom, who gave us some life lessons and I totally connected with him. Next, we stopped for some freshly cooked fish curry in typical Laos style and finally ended our splendid adventure.
We thanked Uncle Tom profusely and that’s when I knew why he had 100% five star reviews (I mean seriously not even a 4.5). Guess what I did when I went back to the hostel? Gave him another 5 star review to add to his growing accolades.
Cost is $60 for 1 person, $45 each if there are two people for the course. Full day or half day tours are available. Contact Uncle Tom for more info – +856 020 29958903
Have you been to Laos? Ever tried Uncle Tom’s trails or any other biking adventures? Tell me about them in comments below, I am always anxious to hear from fellow travelers.