Saturday, May 30, 2009

18-20 May – Luang Namtha, Laos

We crossed the Mekong River on a primitive ferry. The last few meters we had to drive through the murky water ourselves. It felt like a rough and appropriate way to enter into the remote areas of northern Laos.
Welcome to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Just by reading the name of the country you know for sure that democracy is not allowed here. But large and colorful murals with soldiers are very much encouraged.
From the border at Houei Xai we drove through the mountains to Luang Namtha. We watched tribal life as we were passing through one poor village after the other.
We camped by the river next to the Boat Landing Guest House south of Luang Namtha. In their excellent restaurant we got an introduction to the lovely cuisine of Laos. Sticky rice, different dipping curry mixes (jaew), noodle soups (fôe), spicy green papaya salad, fresh spring rolls, etc.
We explored village life around Luang Namtha. Many people are busy in the rice paddies now, planting before the rains start.
The oxen have been replaced by the iron ox from China. This leads to more efficient ploughing, but suddenly the villagers have to get money to buy fuel for the machine and fertilizer for the field (the oxen took care of that before).
In a Black Thai village, the women were producing silk. We were invited to see the silk worms, the cocoons, the spinning and weaving of raw silk fabric. Nina did not mind having to add yet another scarf to her growing collection.

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