28th February  to  8th March 2014 | Lao People's Democratic Republic

The Mighty Mekong Challenge 2014

Laos 2014 GH pre chall mktg BAR135
  • Laos 2014 GH pre chall mktg BAR135
  • Laos 2014 GH pre chall mktg BAR08
  • Laos 2014 GH pre chall mktg BAR22
  • Laos 2014 GH pre chall mktg BAR24
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  • Laos 2014 GH pre chall mktg BAR64
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The Mighty Mekong Challenge, Laos 

28 February - 8 March 2014

Cycling 

Come to the Social Evening on Tues 29 Oct at DOSC (Dubai Offshore Sailing Club), Dubai for more details about this challenge and to meet the G4G team. Click here for more details 

 

This will be G4G's 45th challenge and will include:

This six day cycling challenge will take a group of intrepid adventurers some 500 km along the banks of the mighty Mekong river in southern Laos.  Ride undulating roads

past colonial towns, Khmer Hindu temples and traditional Laotian villages as well as some of the finest coffee growing regions in the world.  Test your fitness and stamina while helping some of the most impoverished children of Laos.

Level: This is a Difficult test of our fitness, achievable by anyone with good fitness levels (i.e. regularly do endurance sports such as swimming and/or runs/walks moderate distances). G4G run a number of free training sessions before the challenge

Number of participants: max 25 in each group

Registration Fee: AED 2,200/- (US$ 600) Non-refundable, non-transferable and not a part of the sponsorship target

Minimum Sponsorship: AED17,500

Assistance provided in advance by G4G: Sponsorship ideas; training & fitness suggestions; safety & medical advice; clothing & equipment advice

What G4G provides on the Challenge: Flights and transfers, accommodation (on a double-occupancy basis), food, guides, bikes, medical support

Essential to leave behind: Day-to-day problems

Essential to bring: Determination & a sense of humour!

Closing date: As soon as the first 25 people are registered

 

The Mighty Mekong Challenge, Laos

28 February - 8 March 2014

Flight times and carriers are subject to availability at the time. Gulf For Good reserves the right to make changes to the proposed itinerary at any time.


DAY 1 – February 28, Friday:  Depart Dubai

Having departed from Dubai early morning on Friday 28th we will arrive in Bangkok that afternoon and the group will be met and transferred to the train station where we will board the overnight train to Ubon Ratchatani. 

Overnight accommodation on train

DAY 2 – March 01, Saturday:  Ubon Ratchatani - Champasak (Border crossing)

An early morning arrival at Ubon Ratchatani where we will have breakfast followed by a short transfer to the Laos border at Chongmek.  Once visa formalities have been completed we will collect the bikes and cycle to the former colonial town of Champasak which stretches along the Mekong River.  This will be nice easy introduction to cycling in Laos

Overnight at Champasak Guesthouse with dinner at local restaurant

DAY 3 – March 02, Sunday:  Champasak - Ban Nakasan - Don Khong - 100km

We cycle 8km to to visit Wat Phu, a Khmer Hindu Temple complex dating back to the 5th Century.  We will cycle back to Champasak to catch a ferry across the Mekong.  We then cycle a gently undulating route along the Mekong River to Ban Nakasan where we again cross the Mekong to one of the biggest islands in this mighty river, Don Khong.

Overnight at hotel and dinner at local restaurant

DAY 4 – March 03, Monday:  Don Khong – Don Khone  - 65km

Today we Island hop!  We will have an early start, cycle around Don Khong and along the banks of the river to the ferry, stopping to see locals making palm sugar.  On the ferry it is only 200m to Don Som, one of the longest islands on the Mekong which stretches 12km to meet the tip of Don Det.  Another quick ferry trip to Don Det where we cycle along a dirt path to the old French railway bridge crossing over to Don Knone where we cycle the short distance to Leepi Falls.

Overnight at Guest house on Don Det and dinner at local restaurant

DAY 5 – March 04, Tuesday:  Don Khone – Bolaven Plateau - 75km

After breakfast it is back on the ferry across the river followed by a 12km cycle to Khan Phapeng waterfalls.  This natural phenomenon splits the Mekong and is referred to as above and below the falls.  After your photo opportunity we will transfer for about 2 hours to Ban Niet Ngong.  From the village we can opt to cycle or walk to see Phu Asa, a curious site of stone towers.  We then cycle into the coffee growing area of Laos: the Bolaven Plateau.  Just past Pakse, we cycle along an undulating road climbing into the temperate coffee growing areas renowned for its Arabica and Robusta beans.  The hotel is perched up the impressive 200m Tad Fane Falls.

Overnight at hotel and dinner at local restaurant

DAY 6 – March 05, Wednesday:  Bolaven Plateau – Tad Lo - 73km

The day starts with a visit to Tad Huang Waterfalls.  Then back on the road for a stop with Mr Coffee to enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee and learn how an entrepreneur is exporting Laos beans worldwide.  We cycle on a quiet road, passing villages and lots of cheering children, to Tha Teng.  After lunch we cycle on to Kuti Village, watch out for piglets crossing!  In the village we will see how they roast coffee and why there are empty coffins under the houses.  From here it is an easy downhill 5km to our overnight destination of Tad Lo waterfalls.  Take a dip in the waterfalls before we have an alfresco dining experience overlooking the falls to round off a great day.

Overnight at Lodge with alfresco dinner


DAY 7 – March 06, Thursday:  Tad Lo – Pakse - 87km

Our toughest cycling day to end our challenge.  We start with a cycle on an undulating road with a few surprises!  Some lengthy but gradual climbs, one is 5km, another is 14km

We will cycle 52km to Tad Pha where we can see some different styles of traditional Laotian homes and another amazing waterfall.  We then continue with a 15km cycle before the final 20km downhill stretch into Pakse. Here we will spend the night with a farewell dinner on the Mekong River

Overnight at hotel and Farewell Dinner

DAY 8 – March 07, Friday:  Pakse – Ubon Ratchatani – Bangkok

Transfer to the border with Thailand and the airport for a 1725 flight to Bangkok.

Overnight at hotel and dinner at local restaurant

DAY 9 – March 08, Saturday:  Bangkok to Dubai

Today we will return to Dubai, exact flight timings to be confirmed.

 

*Once the charity is confirmed, a visit to the charity will be plugged into the itinerary.

 

 

 

 

 

Climate

February/March is the dry season.  In the humid, low-lying Mekong River valley, temperatures range from 23°C to 38°C

Health

Your health will not be at risk any more in Laos than in any other place in Asia if you take the proper precautions while you are traveling.  The most important and simple thing you can do to prevent illness is to be properly immunized.   Second most important - follow food and drink guidelines.  We will provide you with a list of immunizations upon registration. 

Training

 challenge is described as “Difficult”.  You will be cycling for several hours per day.  Therefore, good fitness is required, and it is important that you start a gym or training programme at least three (3) months prior to the challenge.  Most gyms will be happy to assist you in achieving your fitness (and some may even help you raise sponsorship!).  You must however train on a real bike out in the open and not just on static bikes in the gym.  There are now a couple of cycle tracks in Dubai which have proven to be great training grounds for our challengers.  Gulf for Good will organize training sessions every week which serves as a great opportunity to meet your fellow challengers and get any questions answered about the challenge or fitness. 

Visa Information

You are responsible for your own Visas, however we will provide you the necessary information and documents required.  Many passport holders do not need a visa to enter Thailand, a few that do can obtain one on arrival for a fee of around Baht1000.  Challengers with most passports are able to obtain the Lao visa upon arrival. G4G challengers will complete the formalities as a group at the border.  The fees range from $20-$45 dependent on passport. You will need 2 passport photos.[  http://www.laos-guide-999.com/visa-on-arrival.html]

Travel & Medical Insurance

G4G can arrange travel insurance for all participants.  You will be required to pay your insurance premium in addition to your registration fee and sponsorship target (20 Dirhams per person per day).  Further details about the premium, type of cover, insurance terms and conditions, etc. are available on request.

Raising Sponsorship

A comprehensive sponsorship booklet is included in  your challenge pack.  There  are many different sorts of activities you could consider to help build  support for your challenge amongst family, friends and colleagues.  Seeking sponsorship in this way increases your profile, creates more  goodwill and raises awareness of the work of the nominated charities.    The G4G office can give you names of previous challengers who will be  happy to offer advice and maybe even assistance. Be aware that there are rules and regulations controlling public fundraising in the UAE – if   you have any questions, contact our office

Safety

We take your safety very seriously.  It is our first priority.  Please listen to your guides and follow their instructions.  It should be noted that Laos is  a good deal safer than most countries.  

What We Supply

Return flights from Dubai, all transfers, accommodation (on twin sharing basis at hotels, guesthouses and home stays), English speaking guides & porters, daily meals, water and bike rentals.  All your baggage will be transported each day to the night stop, except daily necessities carried in your own daypack.

A Typical Day

During the typical challenge day, you will be cycling for an average of 7-8 hours.  You can expect a lunch stop, usually at a local restaurant or packed lunch.  In the evening there will be time to socialize and explore before dinner.

Personal Equipment

Travel light!  Try to limit your baggage to around 15 kgs.  All bags are to be clearly marked and lockable.

Kit list

A very detailed Kit list will be provided in the challenge pack upon registration

Miscellaneous

-Laos is three (3) hours ahead of the U.A.E.

The official currency is Lao Kip.  The best currency for changing into Lao Kip is US Dollars   Take smaller bills ($20 and $100) and make sure they do not have any tears.

Most places accept or change USD, however it is prudent to keep an amount of both.  The Lao Kip is fairly bulky to carry around in large amounts due to the exchange rate. Also, smaller bills such as 5 & 10 dollars can be handy so as to avoid large amounts of Kip change

The conversion rate into US Dollars are as follows as of 16 June 2013:

1 AED = 2094 LAK             

1 USD = 7692 LAK                  

After the successful completion of Child's Dream - OCK School, supported by the Myanmar 2012 Challenge, the Mighty Mekong 2014 challange will continue to support the great work done by Child’s Dream.

Child's Dream is a charitable, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to empowering marginalised children and youth in the Mekong Sub-Region, which includes Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia.

Sponsorship raised through the Mighty Mekong challenge will support the Nong Pham Secondary School which is located in the Champasak District and the correspondent Province in Southern Laos.  

The Nong Pham Secondary school (only able to provide lower secondary education at the time) was established in 1979.  In 2004 the Government gave it's permission to provide classes on upper secondary level (6-12).  It took the 16 neighbouring villages a total of 4 years to build 2 permanent buildings and 2 wooden school buildings with a total of 17 classrooms.  
The school currently provides education to more than 500 students from the villages.  The permanent buildings are still in good condition, whereas the wooden buildings are rotten and infested by termites.  A safe and secure learning and teaching environment can no longer be ensured as these buildings threaten to collapse.  On top of that the partition walls do not reach the ceilings and noise travels easily between the classrooms, making both teaching and learning very difficult.  The classrooms have only dirt floors, which are unhygienic, becoming dusty in the dry season and muddy in the rainy season.
 
Through Child's Dream we plan to support the Nong Pham Secondary School with the construction of a new school building with five classrooms for which we will also provide the furniture.  Further we will set up a toilet room containing four toilets.  The government will provide support for the teacher’s salaries and teaching materials.
Child's Dream's approach is always to involve the community with the project to encourage ownership and community development.  For this project, the villagers have agreed to provide wood for the building, earth to fill in the land and prepare the foundations, as well as water and electricity needed for the construction.  The government and the community will together be responsible for this school after the construction is completed. 
 
For more information about Child's Dream's fabulous work in Laos, please click here to go to our CHARITY PAGES

How to pack:

Your clothes and equipment should fall into the following categories:

1. What you are going to wear and need on the trip. This should preferably fit into a single bag (soft kit bag, not a suitcase), which will be transported each day from site to site.

2. What you are going to carry in your daypack. Do carry an extra shirt in your daypack. When you stop cycling, you may feel cold after sweating and need to change or add a layer to prevent chills.

What to bring: (tick as you collect!)

Bags

  • Bag - a lockable, good-sized duffle bag with a top length zipper and nametag. (nametag provided by G4G)
  • Daypack - a light small and comfortable daypack (30 litres) with padded straps.
  • Cycle helmet (to be worn at all times when cycling - Mandatory)

Footwear

  • Several pairs lightweight socks
  • 1 pair cycling shoes or lightweight trainers
  • 1 pair sandals/comfortable shoes to suit hotel/camping terrain

Underwear

  • Several sets regular underwear

Outerwear

  • 1 Light fleece or similar for evenings
  • Lightweight wind/rain protection jacket with hood
  • Brimmed hat for sun and rain

Pants

  • 1 or more pairs padded cycling shorts (recommended)
  • Trousers or shorts suitable for hotel/camping terrain

Shirts

  • A selection of quick dry shirts

Hands

  • 1 pair padded cycling gloves (recommended)

Day Pack

  • Water bottles
  • Sunglasses/Sun lotion
  • Prescribed medicines
  • Camera
  • Reading material
  • Toilet Paper/Tissues
  • Chapstick
  • Extra shirt
  • Wet Wipes/water-free hand wash
  • Small change for souvenirs
  • Buff (bandana)

Other

  • Towel (fast drying)
  • Flash light or headlamps, spare batteries and bulbs
  • Toiletries
  • Mini first aid kit (main kit is carried by the G4G leader)
  • 4 extra passport sized pictures for permits and visas

Optional

  • Trail snacks/isotonic drink powder
  • Participants may provide their own saddles, bar ends and pedals if required. Any rider using clip-less cycling shoes must bring their own pedals with them.

Mental  Preparation
It is well within you to     complete this challenge.   Remain in a positive state of mind, without    being  overly confident. This mental stamina will make the more    difficult parts easier  to complete.   Always focus on your goal and do    not get involved in  inconsequential matters that will rob you of your    concentration.   Being  physically prepared assists a great deal in    being mentally confident for the  physical part of the Challenge.

Thoughts & Ideas

Buy new footwear in good time and use it well to break it in.

Bring foot/blister treatment and treat blisters early (on hands, too) Reduce the risk of blisters by wearing correctly fitting footwear, socks and gloves. Prepare your body well for the trip; get plenty of practice on the saddle before you go!

Stuff sacks are great for storing your gear. Use different sizes and colours to differentiate the contents. Plastic bags are also helpful to separate clean and dirty clothing.

If you normally wear contacts, bring a pair of glasses in case of eye irritation from dust.

Some of the trails are rutted and dusty. It is a good idea to pack camera equipment in plastic bags to protect them from dust in addition to their normal cases. Also bring some lens cleaning material.

Laundry is difficult on this trip but you can handwash a few quick-drying items.

Make one copy of your passport and take it with you. We will have a second copy in our files.

Compulsory

Inform us of any important changes in your medical condition.

A relaxed attitude - and a sense of humour !