Luang Namtha

Trip Start Jun 24, 2004
Trip End Jun 17, 2005

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Monday, April 11, 2005

Life is wonderful, I'm pretty much adjusted to Asian life over here. It took a bit of time, but I've succeeded. In the area surrounding Chiang Mai, I did a 3 day trek visiting various hill-tribe villages. It was a great way to see the bush and experience how people live out there. We also enjoyed bamboo rafting down a river while participating in various water fights with the locals along the way. I tried elephant riding, both on the elephants neck and in the basket. It was fun, but an hour was enough. I would highly recommend for everyone to spend more time in Chaing Mai then Bangkok. I really enjoyed this city, it was so much more comfortable and easier to find your way around, overall less overwhelming.

Once out of Chiang Mai, we (I'm travelling with a French guy at the moment, guys are great, but it would be nice to have a female travel companion, I've hardly been with any females since Australia) headed up to Fang where we did a guided motorcycle tour of the surrounding area and visited two villages. I think we were the only tourists in the entire city, not much to do there. But everyone was extremely friendly and offering FREE samples as we walked the streets. Thai people are generally very friendly and helpful (as best they can be with the language barrier) except a lot of times when you are in high-density tourist spots. We briefly stopped in Chiang Rai and Chiang Khong before crossing the border into Laos.

I have found having a travel companion in Asia to be a lot fun more than travelling solo, but maybe because I have been travelling on my own for such a long time. Everyone had always told me before I arrived in Asia that there are loads of independant travellers, I'm not quite sure where they are. During the past 3 weeks, I've only met couples, small groups of travellers who don't speak English too well or those who are vacationing for a short period of time or have a completely different itinerary. I never had a problem in Australia and New Zealand, meeting people to travel with, but I think that has to do with the social factor of staying in hostels. I've been hanging out with lots of people for short periods of time, but when you are the only non-Asian person sitting on a bus for hours on end, you begin to feel a bit lonely and trying to think of when was the last time you had a proper conversation. I'm beginning to feel that next time I pack up my bag to go travelling I definitely want someone to be with me. I am sure that it would be a completely new and refreshing experience.

After a 2 minute long-boat ride across the river, we had arrived in Laos. It was an amazing experience, almost like a fresh start, meaning that I had some previous Asian experience and was prepared to experience an entire new country. From Huay Xai we took a 6.5 hour journey to cover a distance of 193km to arrive in Luang Namtha. In Huay Xai we arrived at the bus station to find out that a pickup truck (with 2 side benches in the back) would be leaving as oppose to the bus, which was scheduled to leave in another 3 hours. We looked at each other as if they were crazy, then said with a strange smile 'okay'. It was one of the best "bus" rides that I have ever taken. We were completely covered in dirt from head to toe after the ride, I looked like a bandit with my bandana covering my face and people were vomiting with their heads out the window. But we were experiencing the real Laos, and how the locals travel. The scenery was stunning and as long as I stared out the back of the truck, I didn't feel carsick. All the roads were windy, up-down dirt tracks (it's apparently one of the worst roads in Laos). They are under a massive construction project to create proper roads for that area within the next 3 years. I was relieved once we were on sure footing again and so thirsty since I was afraid of drinking too much.

Until more adventures.
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