BootsnAll Travel Network

When it rains, it pours.

At least here in Laos, where the weather has been unrelentingly Laosy. Hahaha! I’m back in lovely Luang Prabang, Laos, and it just stopped raining. And I don’t mean drizzle, people, I mean a 12-hour downpour.

(Just as a side note, as I write this, I’m also researching fares on Lao Airlines, and their Web site looks like it was designed by a retarded 5-year-old. It doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the airplanes.)

But I digress, back to the rain. Left Luang Prabang about eight days ago to go to Luang Nam Tha, which borders a protected area of the country, offering eco-treks into the jungle. I really wanted to see some rural life, and scenery, but was uncomfortable with the whole idea of a trek into the wilds to view the natives in their natural habitat. This particular area of the country, though, got great reviews from guidebooks as well as other travelers for leaving a light footprint on the culture and environment. So off I went. Spent the 9-hour bus ride chatting with an Israeli guy I met and watching Lao pop stars (I think, anyway) doing karaoke or something with Hawaiian shirts and leis on. They all stood in a circle dancing, and each would take his or her turn singing. Oh, how I missed you, iPod. After the musical warm-up, we were treated to a Lao-dubbed version of Charlie Chaplin in The Tramp. Um, guys? That’s a silent movie. From 5 billion years ago.

Arrived in Luang Nam Tha, able to retell the plot of The Tramp in Lao, and it was – yep, raining. My new friend, Erez, was interested in trekking too, and tried to convince me to go on a three-day hike instead of two. Thank god I won. We checked out a Lao bar that night (more video karaoke) and spent the next day (in the rain), watching South Park and drinking Beerlao, the national brew. Met another woman the day before, searching for accommodation, and she wanted to go trekking as well. So the three of us signed up for a two-day trek to a village, including an overnight stay.

Hit the local market that night to buy some gear, cause I came unprepared for the jungle and…wait for it…leeches! Aaaaah! I almost turned my city ass right around at the word. But, I thought, you can handle it. So I bought a rain poncho, some bright green plastic shoes, which I will post a picture of, and two pairs of socks, for a grand total of $3.50. Eat your heart out, North Face and Columbia. Those shoes friggin’ rocked, BTW. Others were slipping and sliding, but not this girl!

Hit the trail, and it was – partly sunny! In the group were me, Erez from Israel, Tamara from Austria, Alice from Italy, Jamie from the U.K. and a 66-year-old Japanese dude who put me to shame. Walked on a nice flat bit by the river for awhile, and I thought, “This is going to be fun!” Then…the uphill started. And continued. Oh boy, am I out of shape. Around lunchtime it began to: Rain! Hard! But guess what? No leeches! Well, two little ones stuck to my shoe, but I got them off right away. Yay! We continued on for the rest of the day in the rain until arriving at the Thai Lu tribal village where we spent the night. This was the part I was most looking forward to, as it would be all cultural and stuff. Well, readers, it sucked. They put us up in this long house-style room away from the village, cooked for us, but did not eat with us and generally never even acknowledged our presence. I guess I wanted “authentic” eh? The village chief was busy entertaining agriculture ministers or something, too. Doesn’t he know I’m American for Godssake?? The night was spent in the company of our group and our two guides, who tried to get us all wasted on Lao Lao, a home brew whiskey endemic (and yes, I mean like a disease) all over the country, that tastes like a combo of lighter fluid and rubbing alcohol. Yum!

Woke in the morning for the 10k trek back to semi-civilization, and there wasn’t even a pretense of sun this day, just a full-on downpour. About two hours in, we were given a choice: the long way or the short way. The long way was super-muddy but flat, and the short way was semi-muddy and had “one-half” hour uphill. All but the retarded 21-year-old chose the short way. Here’s how it went down:

Me, after a half-hour uphill (San Francisco uphill, just so you know): “Um, how much longer are we going up hill?” “Because we’re, (gasp) like, in the middle of a huge hill.”

Our guide, Pon: “Half an hour.”

Me, half an hour later, cursing under my breath: “Um, Pon? How much longer up hill? Because it kind of seems like we’re climbing up and over a mountain.

Pon:”Half an hour.”

Me, after, yes, another half an hour, now wishing self and everyone there serious harm: “Seriously, dude, you said ONE half an hour, not ONE hour and one half. I hate you.” (I didn’t say that last part out loud)

Pon, inside his head: Shut up, you complaining American. We’re all suffering, but you are the only loudmouth.

We crested the mountain, finally and had some lunch in the rain. Tromped on for about four more hours, and the shoes did their job. Uphill I was a whiny brat – on the flat and downhill bits I ruled! The mud didn’t stop me! Except when I stepped in it up to my knees. I embraced it though, and decided to stop fighting it. If only it hadn’t been pouring, you could all see just how muddy I got. Couldn’t whip out the camera in the downpour, you know.

We arrived in a village somewhere around 4pm, and boy was I ready to hit the hot shower and beer. Went out that night with some people from the trek, to a Lao kids’ talent show in honor of their first day of school and then hit a nightclub with karaoke, where some chick in a high heel stepped on my left big toe and ripped off the toenail. Ouch. Next day, it was off to a town called Nong Khiaw with Tamara from the trek. This will be Part II of the rain series, I think, as I’m sick of typing, getting hungry and wanting to go to the Hmong market. Will post pics and carry on story tomorrow, maybe. Till then, may your skies be sunny, people.


8 responses to “When it rains, it pours.”

  1. BK says:

    I see you changed the spelling. Ha ha. Thanks for the new update and I hope the weather turns around soon.

  2. Dane says:

    Into every life a little rain must fall. But now the season turns. Hope the next leg of the journey dries out.

  3. Janet says:

    Well, the last day I saw rain was August 15th, in BRITAIN. I’m living in a freakin’ desert. How about you send me some rain and I’ll send you some sun. They keep telling me the heat WILL break soon.
    Remember, any pouring down drenching rainy day trekking up a terrible mountain is better than sitting at your desks writing about pools.

  4. kady says:

    🙁 Did you really complain about pools that much? Pools are the fun part.

  5. Megan B says:

    Hi Becky! nrnrI’m still reading your blog….have been the whole time. I NEED to live vicariously through your crazy adventures. I’ve been busy with our garden, etc. this summer and now that school’s started I’ve got a full plate, so I haven’t been able to email or respond to your blog, but I love your stories!nrnrLove, Megan (Berge) nrnrPS It’s forty degrees here right now!

  6. Amy Maurer says:

    Hey Becky, I’m with you… I’d have been bitching to Pon the whole way up the damn mountain too. Nothing worse than false advertising regarding physical labor, I say!
    I’ve got another vision for you for when things get tedious… just remember that any pouring down drenching rainy day trekking up a terrible mountain is better than hearing a 4 year old say “I’ve gotta poop!” moments after you, the 1 year old, and said 4 year old just got into a bathtub. Yep, we had our very own “Caddyshack” moment last night. Naturally, the 1 year old tried to grab the floater before I could get him out of the tub [Let’s all collectively shudder together now] but thankfully my reflexes are faster than his. Phew! Yecch! Gack!

    See, trekking in a downpour uphill sounds better now, doesn’t it?!? 😉

  7. Amanda Marsh says:

    Oh my gosh Becky!! This is Julie’s niece Amanda, Tom and Melody’s daughter. I’m at Jeff and Julie’s for the Packer game but I just went through your entire blog. Very interesting!! We miss you at our Packer party….but more apple dip for me!! Julie says Nah Nah you didn’t get any apple dip!

  8. erez says:

    thats it??thats what i get after carrying your stuff for two days in the rain?? just a name and the country i came from?? i should have known.. americans…;-))

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