Luang Nam Tha....trekking eh!
Trip Start Jan 07, 2008
55Trip End Jul 22, 2008
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In the last year the Laos government has decicated this province (also call Luang Nam Tha) to eco-friendly (environmentally and socially responsible) trekking and has protected much of the area..it inhabits 30 different ethinic tribes, more than anywhere else in SE Asia i do believe. So naturally i went there to take a eco-friendly trek, a 2-day trek to be precise. It was great. I was with 6 other peeps, all solo travelers (so im not the only crazy nut like some of you may think), 2 japanese, 2 americans and 3 canucks. It was lovely to be amongst peeps again as i hadn't had a proper conversation in like 2 weeks...with me being sick and partially not wanting to talk to anyone
We hiked abook 5-6 hrs a day for a total of 25 kms through dense forest\jungle.. didn't see much wildlife except some water buffalo playing in the mud but lots lots of nature. Experienced a couple true Laos lunches in midst of the forest which was lovely. Banana leaves and bamboo seem to be key as they are used for mmanyyy different things. Banana leaf = tablecloth, umbrella, fan, foodwrapper. Bamboo = food, shelter, boil soup in over the fire, soupbowl, and many other things that i'm sure i don't even know aboot. For the night we stayed in an Akha (one of the tribes) village called Ban Nam Lai. It was very interesting to see how they live their everyday lives, very simple of course. The village is aboot a 1 1\2 hr walk to the nearest hospital... aboot 350 peeps live there, that's aboot 50 families (can you say inbreeding..hahah). They have lots of pigs, chickens and get their veg from the woods, there's loads in the wild unmaintained ie. bamboo, flowery spinach (mmmmm..good), peppers, etc. There homes were quite large considering, made of wood and bamboo and each one had a matching mini-hut (like a treehouse size). What is it for? It's for the teenagers to 'get to know eachother better'..
When i arrived back to the town Luang Nam Tha i was quite sore and stiff as my endurance is rubbish. Not a whole to do in town, a small market and i appreciated my good find of a hotel - very cheap ($6 or 3 pounds) and very clean with tv. The next day went to an even smaller town, Muang Sing, 1 1\2 hr away, where there was even less to do... great Laos character tho, authenticity i suppose, very untouhed and very few tourists. Just scooted around on a bicycle a wee bit, observing. Checked out the huge early morning market where all the locals from various villages gather (different tribes again) selling their veg, meat, baked goods, crafts, clothes, etc. So just one night there then back Luang Nam Tha for one more night then off to very touristy Luang Prabang. So happy to see true Laos before entering the 'tourist' zone!