22nd May 2015:
In the early afternoon we went for a stroll around town. One of the more interesting points of interest was the Bamboo walk bridge. This bridge gets rebuilt every year.
As we were leaving for dinner last night a couple of back packers stopped to chat. As they were signing a message on the car more back packers arrived and stopped to chat and sign our cars. In a short time we had a mini United Nations assembled outside our cars. We had people from The Netherlands, Chile, France, Israel, Italy, Lao and of course ourselves from New Zealand and Australia. It was a great experience.
We left the delightful town of Luang Prabang at around 8.30am for a leisurely drive to a village about 100kms from the Chinese border. Once out od town the going was good but this didn’t last long before 100 kms of roadworks began. The road just got worse and worse. We are sure it will be a fabulous road once completed; in the meantime it was slow going. In the 100 kms of road construction we did not see one lollipop man; passing trucks and buses was a challenge but we made it through safely.
The hills and mountains are awe inspiring; absolutely beautiful scenery. It is a very hard life for the people who live here though. All the villages are built along the road with a sheer drop at their back door. The roadway is their communal area where the kids run and play so you need to be very careful; oh yes; btw the road is also where all the dogs, chicken and pigs seem to live. The people are for the main subsidence farmers who farm the steep hills. As the soil is very poor they need to clear the area before they crop and the next year move on. It takes about 5 years for the soil to recover and then they are able to go back and repeat the cycle. A very very hard life but great for building leg muscle. With the road works these villages are covered in dust. The new road is also a bit wider than the existing road so it will be interesting to see how they manage the road encroachment on their communal area going forward. One of the noticeable features of the smaller villages are the school children who all wear formal uniforms for school. They obviously take a lot of pride in who they are. They walk. cycle and motor cycle to school. I’m not sure holding an umbrella with one hand and steering with the other is the safest way of travel but it does make for delightful photography.
This afternoon we met a Lao crew from the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) who are teaching the local community how to manage their local forest and resources. One of the guys came to my aid after I locked myself out of my room. The hotel people only speak Lao so without an interpreter I might have been sleeping out in the street. Tonight’s accommodation costs 120,000 Kip or Chickens (kip in dutch means chickens) less than A$20.
The people here are very friendly. At dinner I was able to buy at the neighbors restaurant and eat it in another – no problems. Another lady shared here takeaway meal with us. Just so great to be here.