Nong Khiaw, northern Laos
Day XIV – April 1
Last night we went for dinner all together to this place James, the Stray tourguide, had picked out. I wouldn’t have gone in there if I’d had anything to say about it. But I guess at this moment I don’t have that luxury.
Their pumpkin-crème soup was very nice though.
After that we had a bit of a stroll over the local market but – much like the hotel, the street, the restaurant, really the whole vibe I’m getting of Nam Tha; not very inspiring, but dusty…
So then there’s but one solution; to the bar!
James insisted on introducing us to laolao: the national liquor. It’s being compared to whiskey. I thought the white version tastes more like tequila. There’s also the green version that should be fresher, and the pink that should be more like actual whiskey.
I drowned it with lao island iced tea and in there it worked well.
The party-animals were awoken – though I think in most of my current travel companions they rarely ever get any sleep – and it was decided to continue the party at the Chinese disco.
So I safely retreated to my room. I think it was only just 10pm when I turned off the lights.
This morning it turns out smog does actually put a dusty layer on this town, and with that cleared up more or less, making it possible to see the golden stoopa and some of the outlining hills, it already looks a lot nicer.
It is said Nam Tha is a good place to do trekkings from.
James pulls a witty april fools on us, saying we’d catch a plane instead of the bumpy road to Nong Khiaw.
From that smooth, spiffy new road we left Huay Xai at, it’s turned into dusty, worn down asphalt with potholes varying from big, to really really big.
Parts of the Laos highway have been sponsored by China who uses it for transport to Thailand and Vietnam. The rest of it is in a very poor state.
Oh and vomiting will get you kicked off the bus. So good luck to you girls and your hangovers.
As we’re driving eastward, the scenery is getting more and more shapely with humps sticking out in unfamiliar forms.
The town where we have lunch isn’t super big, but feels huge.
The road crossing right through it is a 4 lane at least, no smaller than the highway just outside of Bangkok. I haven’t seen more than 2-lane since.
On the side we’re on I can’t find the fruitshake I’m craving, so I make a run for it. On the other side I find a sort of garage/livingroom/streetvendor with a blender on their cart; a sign that they do shakes.
When my presence is noticed a young girl walks up and understands that I ask for a mangoshake and makes me one – with condensed milk and syrup. A few types of shakes indeed contain these extremely sweet ingredients – but not mango! However, I don’t have the heart to complain to her, so I pay the 7,000k and walk back to the bus.
After half of it I do start feeling quite sick. I leave the rest of it and hope I won’t end up being the one to be thrown off the bus.
Now I’d like to say something about the road we continue on, the one that takes us to Nong Khiaw, through these daunting mountains. But I don’t want to get mum and dad unnecessarily worried before I get home so I’ll just leave it for now. Anything-goes-Asia couldn’t be truer.
The scenery is becoming more and more spectacular now with every new line of limestone hills. Before we get to our destination we’re surrounded by giants sticking straight up out of the earth.
Tonight we make camp in this adorable Sunrise Guesthouse, with it’s sweet cabanas.
The diner is a pretty little bamboo hut painted in bright colours and with many smilies on the menu. Then, walking further down the courtyard, brushing past some big leaves, scaring of a rooster who just put down a big load on the stairs, so I‘ve got to watch out, I make my way between the little timber and bamboo huts to the one I’m sharing with Patrick. A triple, with a bed for the parents and one for the kid, but the double is all pink so it’s the one for the girl. Yeah, he couldn’t argue that.
At the back there’s a balcony with the hammock hanging right by the riverside.
With my camera I try to capture the sun sliding into the hill, and for the first time since I’m on, I’m happy about Stray. This place, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on!
James told us this is his favorite place in all of Laos, and I can see why!
Anything-goes Asia: Where the yellow line is no more than a mere indication.