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Luang Nam Tha, Laos

Written on: Wednesday November 29th, 2006

A journal entry from: Southeast Asia

Entering into Laos from Chiang Khong, Thailand, is a very noteable experience. Once you cross  the Mekong River to Huay Xai, Laos you know you are stepping onto a landscape differing in many ways from the bustling economy of Thailand. From the boatman bailing the boat,
to the tent serving as an immigration office on the shore, to the crazy,
crazy bus ride north we were awed by this country.

Most travellers take the same route - a slow boat down the Mekong River for
two days to Luang Prabrang.  But, desiring the route less travelled, we
ended up on a very old bus heading up a winding, switchback dirt road, that
was actually a road in progress. Yes, the road was being built virtually in
front of us as we travelled. Stops would be made for a new part of the road
to be made, for avalanches to be cleared, for people to get out and walk.
Not only was every seat  full on this bus, but little stools were put in the
aisles and people were squished in tight. The driver had two helpers that
would squirrel themselves over everyone's heads walking on the back of the
seats to get to places to move shifting cargo. They would crawl out the
window and on to the roof and back in, to check the cargo tied on the roof.
The dust was incredible. People had things tied over their faces and we all
were thickly covered with red coloured dust.  Just as you thought you were
through the worst of it, everyone would go quiet and there would be a slide,
or another vehicle trying to pass us. After 7 1/2 hours and  140 kilometres
we arrived at our destination - dark, dirty and bewildered. But there were 8
falangs on board and we have remained very good friends. We quickly found
great guest houses, good food and have loved this town of Luang Nam Tah, not
far from the Chinese border (Yunnan province).  The people are beautiful,
the town has a slow and friendly pace, and the countryside is absolutely
beautiful. For the past two days we have rented bicycles and enjoyed long
rides into the country side. We have explored many little villages of hill
tribe farmers. They are equally curious about us as we are with them.

 Eating is always an experience. Village people have
shared with us treats of sugar cane and a variety of many unusual fruits. We've even
eaten deep fried bamboo boring beetle larvae! Tonight a group of us went for
a Mongolian barbecue - I think it was beef...  Have enjoyed the company of Debbie and Jeuren from Holland and Galen and Troy from Canada.