Boppin’ around Luang Namtha

We have spent a week or so riding around again, we decided we should try to see the old stupa, the Lao Lao distillery, and the local handicraft village.  So far, we only managed the first one, because we rode around for an entire day trying to find the other 2 places (with a map!) and couldn’t find them ;) partly because many roads were impassable due to mud (it’s now rainy season), and partly because reading Lao maps takes a special skill that we haven’t yet aquired.  Lao maps are hand-drawn and depict an alternate reality to the one the appears before us.  Oh well.  Next time we will take Thong with us to show us where they are.  We also rode on the road to Boten, the other Chinese border, which was also really beautiful in a different way to the Muang Sing road.  Every time we ride somewhere around here it reminds us why we’re here – apart from the amazing people – this place is just stunning.  The scenery is like nothing else and we feel on top of the world when we’re here.

In addition to that, we’ve had many more delectable meals with Thong and Paet (including with many of their friends who met us at the funeral and have now invited us for dinner).  Paet still amazes us with her cooking prowess – she cooks at least 5 or 6 dishes for each meal (including lunch, where she comes home from work, gets changed into her cooking clothes, proceeds to cook all of the dishes as well as rice, presents it all beautifully, sits down to eat with us and then rushes back to work in her army nurse uniform!) and all of them are always delicious.  We love it how all of the food changes seasonally depending on what you can get from the jungle that day/week/month.  Lao imports (and exports) almost nothing and eats solely what is available from the land in the local area.  It’s a pretty cool way to live!  Especially when there are about a million different kinds of herbs and vegetables and fruits so there is always plentiful choice of ingredients.  It’s awesome being able to eat tropical fruits as well as temperate species in the same area such as mangoes and lychees as well as nectarines and brocolli.  Frogs are also currently in season, the entire body is eaten, not just the legs.  Ant eggs are very popular now too.

Paet also decided it was time Karen become an honorary Lao woman and made her an awesome Lao skirt with handwoven fabric.  Since then all of the women come up to talk about the skirt and they all think it’s very exciting that a falang has a Lao skirt.

Next we are off to Thailand again, to buy some supplies for ‘Project Laos’ (more information to follow) and to expand Thong’s  horizons – he has never left Lao before and we are taking him and Paet with us (Paet has been to Chiang Rai before for one night).  It should be an interesting adventure!  Our photos are here.