Back in the saddle with a ride through the country
Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
92Trip End Apr 22, 2011
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We had heard the roads were bad in Laos but at the start of the journey we wondered what all the fuss was about, however as we got into the hills they started to deteriorate. As we went along the bus had to drive on the other side of the road just avoid the pot holes, never a good thing with vertical drops on one side. We have noticed a few differences from Thailand, firstly that they drive on the right hand side, this is the first country we have visited on this trip to do that. There are other differences too, like the villages are more rustic, every house doesn't have a big satellite dish protruding out of it, in fact most of them don’t even have electricity. Some of the villagers are more traditional in there attire, we passed a lady using what looked like a large pestle and mortar we think to grind flour, but she was doing this in just a skirt. She wasn’t the only half naked person we saw on the way to Luang NamTha, but the other was a 90 year old woman so not something you want to remember. The kids are great, but boy do they have a lot of them, I think it was a bank holiday on the Monday we travelled down as there were a lot of kids around. The cutest thing I saw was two little kids no more than 5 years old, each with another tot about 2 years old on their backs, all butt naked and walking down the stony road after bathing in the river. Every time we see the river or any bit of water there is a kid swimming in it or a group of lads fishing with masks and harpoons made from bamboo. It all seems a very simple way of life.
Our bus arrived an hour and a half later than advised, which shows another change from Thailand, you could set your clock by their timetables. However from the tails we have heard this is something you have to except with this country, that everything is just at a slower pace of life and you will get there so sit back and enjoy the view.
Luang NamTha is a bigger town than the border town of Hauy Xai, most people come here to do some trekking in the hills or canoeing on the river. We booked into a guest house that had WiFi as it was our Daddies birthdays and we wanted to call home to wish them well. Rooms so far seem to be ok prices, we are paying about £4.50 and that is for a nice room with bathrooms and hot water.
The other activity available here is biking, you can hire a mountain bike for £1 a day and go explore the countryside.......and that is just what we did. We got a local map and planed a route that took us through the town and out into the countryside before coming back through a small village. We were out for 3 hours and we think we covered roughly 20 miles in that time. It was great to be back on bikes again, it really is the best way to explore. We stopped a number of times to take pictures or just take in the sights and sounds. We lost count of the number of times we had kids and adults wave and shouting 'sabydeaka’ (which is Laos for hello) at us as we passed by on our bikes. Downside is our backsides are a little saddle sore, I think we will need to hire a few more bikes to get them worn in again.
Food in Laos is delicious, there is a lot of minced meat dishes or patties made from minced chicken or pork. We had half a duck from the food markets last night and we have heard that fertilised chickens eggs are readily available from most market sellers.... I think we might hold fire on trying that delicacy just yet! They also do a great baguette, but that will be the French influence, they had a number of colonies here in the 1900’s and some of them still speak French or at least a version of it. Most of the villages we drove through had a boules courts.
So we had two nights in Luang NamTha before moving on to Oudom Xai.