Damn you, smoke!

Trip Start Jan 09, 2013
Trip End Jan 22, 2013

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, Louangphabang,
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I caught a 3-hour bus ride north of Luang Prabang to a small, quaint little town called Nong Khiaw this morning. The town is nestled in dramatically large limestone cliffs and mountains, with a beautiful dark green river running through it. This town would be absolutely stunning, if it weren't for the smoke!! Argh I am so disappointed that what would otherwise be a breathtaking view of the surroundings is covered in a thick layer of smog. I can only make out the silhouette of the mountains in the horizon.
Oh well. At least I have a reason to return to Laos in the future.
Now that I think of it, I don't think I have seen the sun since I've been in Laos. The sky has been so overcast with smoke.

Even with the smog, this town may be the most beautiful town I've been to, since traveling in northern SE Asia. Mae Hong Son in Thailand is a very close second. The vibe here is like nothing I have encountered. It's so removed from main tourism, there are only 2 main paved roads, and a lot of the streets are still unpaved. There are no supermarkets, even! Just locals selling produce, water, snacks out on a street (mostly out of their homes). It is for sure the smallest and the quietest town I've been to yet. Even as I'm sitting on the porch, I don't hear a single scooter which is almost never in SE Asia. What an idyllic and charming town.

When I got off the bus today, the first item on my agenda was to find accommodation. With my 20kg of backpack and frontpack, I walked around on one dirt road lined with a number of guesthouses. I walked into 5-6 guesthouses, and they were charging about 60,000 kip/night ($8) for a room. The last one I stopped into, the lady said 50,000kip for a bungalow. When I peaked inside, it reminded me of that one bad spot I stayed in, where I was attacked by ants at night while I slept. I politely refused, telling the lady the bungalow was lovely (although it wasn't....it was dingy) but it was too open and exposed for insects. Then she took me to a newly constructed concrete bungalow with a twin and a double bed inside, and an overhead fan. I asked, "same price?!" And she nodded.
I felt bad taking such a big room just for myself - especially since a group of three landed a small bungalow across from me.

I want to find one day trekking tomorrow, to ride down a river and visit local villages.
But the disadvantage of traveling solo is that most trekking packages require a minimum of 2 people - so they won't take me unless some other people sign up. I was told to come back later at night. Will see what happens. Good thing I'm getting used to this open and relaxed lifestyle with no plans :-)
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Oli on

It looks from your photos and sounds from your stories so rural, where does the smog comes from? Maybe it's just the fog?

oshioshi on

The smog is from burning down the farms all across northern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. For 3 months out of the year, the whole region is covered in smoke.
I'm told this month is the worst :-(

tak on

beautiful landscape.

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