Luang Nam Tha....trekking eh!

Trip Start Jan 07, 2008
1
10
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Trip End Jul 22, 2008


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Where I stayed
Ulanan Guesthouse

Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  ,
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Not many tourists or backpackers for that matter make their way to Luang Nam Tha (i'll give $100 if can pronounce it right..haha), it's a wee bit out of the way in regards to 'tourist' destinations...give it a few years though and i reckon it'll be swarmed with tourists.

In the last year the Laos government has decicated this province (also call Luang Nam Tha) to eco-friendly (environmentally and socially responsible) trekking and has protected much of the area..it inhabits 30 different ethinic tribes, more than anywhere else in SE Asia i do believe. So naturally i went there to take a eco-friendly trek, a 2-day trek to be precise. It was great. I was with 6 other peeps, all solo travelers (so im not the only crazy nut like some of you may think), 2 japanese, 2 americans and 3 canucks. It was lovely to be amongst peeps again as i hadn't had a proper conversation in like 2 weeks...with me being sick and partially not wanting to talk to anyone. That happens sometimes though when traveling alone, i may go a while without any company and then get swormed...makes me really appreciate the art of conversation and people's company tho.

We hiked abook 5-6 hrs a day for a total of 25 kms through dense forest\jungle.. didn't see much wildlife except some water buffalo playing in the mud but lots lots of nature. Experienced a couple true Laos lunches in midst of the forest which was lovely. Banana leaves and bamboo seem to be key as they are used for mmanyyy different things. Banana leaf = tablecloth, umbrella, fan, foodwrapper. Bamboo = food, shelter, boil soup in over the fire, soupbowl, and many other things that i'm sure i don't even know aboot. For the night we stayed in an Akha (one of the tribes) village called Ban Nam Lai. It was very interesting to see how they live their everyday lives, very simple of course. The village is aboot a 1 1\2 hr walk to the nearest hospital... aboot 350 peeps live there, that's aboot 50 families (can you say inbreeding..hahah). They have lots of pigs, chickens and get their veg from the woods, there's loads in the wild unmaintained ie. bamboo, flowery spinach (mmmmm..good), peppers, etc. There homes were quite large considering, made of wood and bamboo and each one had a matching mini-hut (like a treehouse size). What is it for? It's for the teenagers to 'get to know eachother better'... seriously. All homes have them, in all villages...very open and honest i suppose! We were also treated to a welcome massage by the young Akha women. I had a 'moment' thinking i can't believe where i am and what i'm experiencing. It was great but at the same time i felt like a piece of meat being bruised and pounced on. I had to laugh and yelp too. She pulled every joint as well... the worst were my toes, ouch - think they came out of their sockets! That was my first EVER massage in my life...so it was an experience!


When i arrived back to the town Luang Nam Tha i was quite sore and stiff as my endurance is rubbish. Not a whole to do in town, a small market and i appreciated my good find of a hotel - very cheap ($6 or 3 pounds) and very clean with tv. The next day went to an even smaller town, Muang Sing, 1 1\2 hr away, where there was even less to do... great Laos character tho, authenticity i suppose, very untouhed and very few tourists. Just scooted around on a bicycle a wee bit, observing. Checked out the huge early morning market where all the locals from various villages gather (different tribes again) selling their veg, meat, baked goods, crafts, clothes, etc. So just one night there then back Luang Nam Tha for one more night then off to very touristy Luang Prabang. So happy to see true Laos before entering the 'tourist' zone!
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