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Leaving Lao

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

ll.jpgThe trip out of Lao was an adventure – sort of the type that was fun in an uncomfortable way that makes great stories later.

I got up early to buy a ticket as I figured it might sell out – so far, so good. But when I returned to board a few hours later, all the seats were taken and the floor space was filled with cargo.

No problem, I just sat on the bags and crates stacked in the main aisle and had the best seat in the house – I was even able to stretch out completely! There were only a half-dozen falaang on the bus and we were all in the back. I chatted most of the way with a retired teacher from Oz and with this free-lance art-critic from Paris. The hours were absorbed by some good conversation.

The bus broke down 3 times, and we all had to get out and push 2 other times. Several other times we had to just get out and walk because of how steep the road was.

The Chinese and Thai governments have joined together to cut a road through this part of Lao as a direct link between the other two and it is still in the cutting in stage – mud and bulldozers and dust and such.

There seems to be no concern for the hill tribe people as it cuts through villages that were not on the road system. It’s the end of the world as they know it.

Christmas Cheer: Rice Wine in a Khmu Village

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

trek.jpgThe trek began Christmas eve from the northern Lao town of Luang Namtha. Almost immediately there was a steady climb, but it felt really good to be out on a single-track trail again. For my Alaskan friends, it was much like the Fuller Lakes trail in pitch and scenery.

The Lao government, in partnership with New Zealand, has protected this region as a park and a cultural heritage/preservation area. To visit the villages contained within, you had to go through this partnership program. The fee was minimal, and in exchange, you had 2 local guides, permission from the villages to visit, a bamboo/thatch building to sleep in, meals, and a chance to observe a way of life that hasn’t changed much for a few hundred years. [read on]

The Vang Vieng Veg Part 2: Lao Women and Falaang Men

Saturday, December 16th, 2006
vv2.jpgAfter a day of kickin' back, hiking and caving I headed off to dinner and then on the walk back to the guest house came across a bar with a pool table. Well, it was ... [Continue reading this entry]

Vang Vieng, Lao:A Snatch Shot of the Vang Veg

Friday, December 15th, 2006
vv.jpgOk...more about the title of this section later. You're just going to have to read on. Vang Vieng is one of the weirdest-strange towns i have been in so far. As you can tell by clicking ... [Continue reading this entry]