Back to Paksi than off to Luang Nam Tha

Trip Start Dec 25, 2008
Trip End Dec 25, 2009

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Where I stayed
Zuela's Guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Saturday, April 25, 2009

Was back in Pakse just enough time to have a few more great coffees and book my flight on Laos Air to Luang Nam Tha.  I was also worried that my Visa might run out and I would be in a small village where I could not extend it so I asked around to find out where I could extend my visa.  According to a travel agency and a few other places the only place in Laos to extend your visa is in Vientiene.That meant I would have to fly there, spend a day and book another flight to Luang Nam Tha.  Well, I can't remember which place told me that I could get it done in one day at the police station!!!!! So true.  Expensive extension as it costs 4$ a day + commission for the police but it also saved me going to Vientienne, the wait there . . .  (Turns out that I really didn't need the extention but better safe than sorry.  Flight from Pakse to Luang Nam Tha was 231.92 US.
It was so hot in the south and it was going to be too cold in China so I decided to visit northern Laos now. My initial plan was to return to Laos in September but plans have changed and I will be visiting Myanmar at that time.
Had a good flight on Laos Air from Pakse to Luang Nam Tha (The flight from Pakse to Luang Nam Tha was 231.92 US). I stayed at Zuela's Guesthouse (all info in The Lonely Planet phone: 0205785978)  which was very clean and cost 60,000 kip (not including breakfast).  Rooms only have fans but it was fine when I was there. No wifi in the rooms though.  (I did check other places and 60,000 or slightly less seems to be the going rate and there was another good option just behind Zuela's.  There were also many backpackers using the guesthouse just a few doors down and seemed to be happy there.) Zuela's are presently adding a restaurant so there was quite a bit of activity while I was there.  Check the photos out.  Amazing that all this work is done by hand and I believe most of the fellows working  were students (it was Saturday) to earn extra money for their studies.  I also think that they were getting paid 50,000 kip for the day. (Meals supplied)

There is really not too much to do right in the village. There is the usual couple of markets to visit, the stroll around the village and trying to join a tour to the country (which I did not succeed in doing, once again)  Again, I find the tours are very expensive not only for a solo traveller but in general. I guess everybody wants a (big) piece of the profit.  What I am told is that transport is expensive and the fees (for the village . . ),  I find that it can work when you can find a group of 6 to 8 people otherwise from my experience with the other tours I have had in Laos it is not worth it.  As language is often a barrier and the tour guide seems to think his main job is to tell us where to get off, and when to get back on and make sure we eat at their friends, family restaurants. . . A much better option is to rent a bike and go out on my own providing the distance and roads are doable by bike.  Luang Nam Tha is a great place to do just that. I did go out several times doing anywhere from 20 and 50 klm a day.  It was just great.  Had some amazing views,  visited very interesting villages and had great moments just being in nature. Again, biking alongside students, having minor conversations but they seemed to be enjoying it totally.  Had my usual stops in villages to rest, look at weavings(!!!)  have a coke and then continue.  Very hot days as well in the north but more bearable than in the south. The bike rental was 10,000 kip/day and they provide you with a map of villages around Luang Nam Tha which was great and made for lovely day excursions. Again, I was mostly alone on the road and the only foreigner in the villages. I am female and travelling solo and found Laos to be extremely safe. Often in the north I was in the middle of nowhere, the only female, the only foreigner and every once in awhile someone would go by on a bike, tractor . . . look, look again,  smile and yell the normal Sabaidee greeting and we each continued on our way. 

I actually had my first herbal sauna in Luang Nam Tha.  It was marvelous. Very basic/rustic place but what a great experience. I love  saunas but the herbal sauna has to be the best. Of course, the body massage before was also great. 

So that I don't forget I will write it know. I found Cambodia to be the land of smiles and Laos the land of beautiful voices.  Well not when they are speaking because these people seem to be screaming most of the time but the singing is just beautiful and they seem to love to sing.  Sometimes in the middle of  some task someone will  start singing or I could be walking on a street and all of a sudden this beautiful voice is heard from somewhere behind a wall.  Or someone goes by on a motorbike singing away. . . and this goes on all day, anywhere, young and old. men and women. Quite amazing and so beautiful.
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