DAY 272: In to the wilds
I love this country. Its people. Its landscape.
For the last 13 days Ive been hitch-hiking all around the north of Laos, waking up every morning without knowing who will give me a lift, when, and where will they leave me, just stopping wherever I felt like stopping and seeing this incredible landscape 360 degrees from the pick up of trucks.
I met an Austrian when I was having a bike ride around Luang Nam Tha, the surroundings of this place are full of small villages, and the locals are really nice people.
In the afternoon of this same day we stopped by a house where there was a music band playing. The locals in the garden when they saw us looking what was going on invited us in, and the next thing I know is that I have a glass of beer in my hand and a plate of food in front of me. And more beer, and more food, and more beer and more food….and when they were running out of beer guess what?? Another truck full of BeerLao arrived to the house. Dancing aswell with the locals, the women more drunk than the men, and this men could not stand straight…
The host of the party was celebrating that his new borned child was 1 month old. I think it must be a big deal around here. The man sat down at my side for half an hour, hugging me, speaking to me in Chinese and Laos, which I could not understand a word, but he was so pissed that he was spitting me all the time when he was trying to say something effusively while he accommodated his self by placing his hand on my groin. He even sang me a song with the band!!!!!!
Like this, I have many more experiences,the number of times Ive been invited by Laos people to share their food and a place in the fire I cannot count, as it is all the time when I am away of the main cities-touristic areas.
I left Luang Nam Tha with this Austrian (Stephan) and a french boy(Francoise), hiking is easy here, but at the beginning we had problems as we didnt know when to stop, the first night we finished in a rural village outside the main road, having to ask the people of the village if we could sleep with them as it was already dark…and those people are so good that they let us a hut!!! And they even invited us to join the village members in a hut where they where all drinking “I dont know what” but it tasted like a strange fruit juice, from a stone jar with more than half a meter long straws….
Every day I feel more admiration for this people. So poor. But so so kind, and so so happy. The smile of kids here is difficult to forget. When the kids see us at the back of the pick up trucks they all start screaming, smiling and waving their hand to us…like if we would be rock stars. No. It is more like being the president of a country…the pope!!!! Saying hello at both sides of the road….
Near Nuong Khiow, and after sleeping for several days in those huts along the road at the rice fields, we decided to build a bamboo boat and go along the river Nam Ou until Luang Prabang. We estimated 2 days down the river, and in a near by village we met a Laos man that when he understood our intentions he was even more excited than us with the plan. Phffeuh! What a visionary this old man, he helped us cut the bamboo trees, construct the boat, and we slept at his house with his family for one night. dinners were based on frogs, soups, and birds which were so tiny and had so little meat that you had to eat the complete skeleton, even the head….
The bamboo boat journey was not very succesful, we left the town where we constructed the boat, Nam Pak (we called our boat “The Princess of Nampak”) and half of the village was present in the moment we started sailing away,the first night we camped along the riverside and slept in a hut in the way, but the second day we had a couple of accidents, having to stop for boat reconstruction for more than 2 hours, and finally crushed our boat in the middle of a tree that grew up in the middle of the river…we decided to stop then, not even 30 km away from where we started!!!
Luang Prabang. Spent 2 nights there, after sleeping in huts in the middle of nature and seeing the landscape from the back of a pickup truck and speaking intimately with the locals so much we were all looking forward to leave the place asap and continue with our hitch hiking, and so we did.
Now I am In Vang Vieng, around 80 km to vientiane, the capital of Laos. The landscape is so so so incredible here. Everything around me since we left Luang Prabang are mountains and valleys, the road is like a snake going around all this green surface…after it falls into a flat plateau, but all around it you can see really high and beautiful white limestone walls,most of it covered by trees growing from everywhere…yesterday we slept in an incredible place…surrounded by cliffs of limestones…
Sleeping in the wilds, listening to the sounds of nature…so intense here! we have our own pots, we do our own fires, we cook our own food…
I am loving every minute of all of this, and I cannot wait to get out of viang vieng and continue visiting the local people of the smaller villages around, sleep in their landscapes…
Big hugs brothers and sistas!!!