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Laos. Wow.

rain 30 °C

After a particularly hairy dash from Chiang Rai to the Laos border, we crossed the mighty Mekong river to Huay Xai in Laos. On arrival it looked like just anothet town in Thailand. The local tourist information office in Huay Xai told me there'd be a bus leaving for Luang Nam Tha (our intended destination) at 2pm. We arrived at the bus station and guess what? No bus. The next bus was a VIP bus at 5pm. As it turns out, Laos timekeeping bears little resemblance to the traditional kind. After stalling until the bus was full of backpackers we finally pulled off around six. Once you leave Huay Xai you enter the real Laos. As the bus wound through the mountain roads there were traditional villages on either side of the road. In this part of Laos you can equate traditional with abject poverty. Womenfolk were cooking in pots at the side of the road, semi-naked children driving one or two cattle and men working in the fields. It was quite shocking but incredible. After a couple of days in Laos the steely determination of its people has been made evident. They are amazing folk.

We're staying in an oasis of calm in Luang Nam Tha called the Zuela Guesthouse. The owners and staff are extremely kind with our kids. The woman of the house has two young children of her own and Paddy has made friends with her 5 year old son. Language is no barrier in this instance.

We rented bikes yesterday and cycled around the surrounding countryside. Lots of poverty in evidence but smiles everywhere you turn. Shouts of "sabai di" (hello) from naked kids swimming in murky water. Every second home you pass appears to double as a shop or restaurant. Today we went on a longer cycle and witnessed the agricultural base of Laos society - the workers in the paddy fields. Fires were burning all around and smoke was filling the air. Twenty minutes later I understood why. The rain was coming and when I say rain, I mean rain. From thirty degree heat to a deluge in the blink of an eye. We were saturated within seconds. A bunch of sodden "farang" on bicycles. The kids seemed to enjoy the warm rain.

We head for Phongsali in a day or two. Its a nine-hour mini-bus drive away.

Posted by goldenmaverick 06:53 Archived in Laos Tagged luangnamtha Comments (1)

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