View our location map in Muang Sing
Next time you go to Asia, go to Muang Sing. No ifs. No maybes. Just go. On Friday morning after we had finished work we took a van up to Muang Sing, near the Chinese border. Since we were only going for a night or two, we decided to keep renting our room in Luang Namtha and keep most of our stuff here. (We had just moved into the best room in our guesthouse and didn’t want to lose it.) After an incredibly scenic drive (bounce) through National Park, we arrived at Muang Sing and checked into some garden bungalows that Eric and Emma had found the day before. We soon discovered we were the only tourists in town, plus one Dutch girl. We were quite a novelty for the locals it seemed. We then all went to lunch, at a beautiful little shack in the rice paddies with a stunning view. After lunch that included the best red sticky rice we’ve had so far, we were wandering back to our bungalows when we spotted a huge mansion and wondered how expensive it would be to stay there, with it’s expansive view of the mountains and rice fields. We went in to have a look and immediately fell so in love with the place that we decided to move out of the bungalows and into the mansion. We convinced Tricia to move with us, and Eric and Emma and Miriam and Trina decided to stay at the bungalows since we had all already paid for the night ahead. So there we were in Muang Sing, renting the place with the most amazing view, plus renting the garden bungalow, plus renting our room in Luang Namtha, and we were totally stoked!!! We managed to explain to the bungalow people that there was nothing wrong with their rooms, we just decided to move with the help of an awesome young guy Kun-Har who spent the past 3 years at Uni studying English specifically so that he could go back and help his town as an interpreter and information guide. What an awesome dude! After spending a couple of hours staring at the ever changing view, we (us and Tricia) decided to hire bicycles and ride to the Chinese border. Eric and Emma joined us on their scooter so we all kind of rode together. The ride there was so breathtaking and would absolutely be the highlight of our entire trip so far.
We all managed to sneakily stand on the Chinese side of the border so now we have technically all been to China :-) . Eric and Emma managed to ride 4kms into China on their scooter before a Chinese official turned them back! They were so stoked. We all went back to the mansion and watched the sunset. That night we all went to the night market which was so tiny compared to the one in Luang Namtha and had Kauw Soy – handmade rice noodles in a local soup where you put all your own leafy greens and herbs and chilli in the soup when it is served straight from the cauldron of boiling water so they still get cooked and are very fresh.
The next morning we got up to see the awesome sunrise, and Eric and Emma also moved into our mansion after their night in the bungalows because the mansion was so awesome and we had the entire place to ourselves. Then we all went to the morning markets for breakfast. There was some amazing foods there and the entire market atmosphere was amazing with the majority of people there dressed in their traditional tribal outfits just going about their daily lives. Before visiting here we have always held a vague idea that although there are definitely people who do still dress this way, in Thailand especially it seems that most of the tribal dress is just for show for the tourists. To see all the women here dressed beatifully in their local clothes and so many different tribes milling about buying and selling fruit and vegetables and river fish and many other animals (Bamboo rat, pheasant, freshly killed chicken with all the feathers still on, pig, many intestines and offal, silkworms and rhinocerous beetles just to name a few!) was so cool.
After breakfast the two of us decided to have a lazy day looking at the view, Eric, Emma, Miriam and Trina went on a trek together into the National Park, and Tricia went to a local village with another traveller we met from Germany. It seems Tricia got to have the most exciting day of all – not quite in the way she hoped though, while they were in the village they had been invited to sit on one if the lady’s balcony and while there they heard 5 gunshots and then all the villagers started screaming and running. They didn’t know what to do so just hightailed it on their bikes out of there as fast as they could and went to the police station. This made us even more glad that we had a magical day with the view! We decided to stay another night because we were enjoying ourselves so much, so had another group dinner at the night market and sampled some of Eric’s purchase of the day – locally made Lao Lao which is rice whisky. There were two kinds and they were by far the most alcoholic substance we have ever tasted! The smallest sip you can possibly take would make your entire mouth and throat on fire for about 10 minutes afterwards. So we all sat drinking Lao Lao and watching the stars. It was a memorable night and we felt so lucky to have met such cool people to be in Muang Sing with. (And to hopefully catch up with again in later travels).
Our final morning we all had breakfast together at the morning market and then Tricia went off to do her day trek (a proper organised one this time with a guide!) and Eric, Emma and both of us chilled out for the morning and then had lunch at a Sichuan restaurant – we couldn’t leave the Chinese border without eating some authentic Chinese food!! We then walked to the bus station and agreed to meet up in a few days when they arrive back in Luang Namtha. It was such an awesome weekend that the two of us are seriously considering staying here yet another week, and going up to Muang Sing again next weekend as well. (There is no internet in the town so we can’t stay during the week.) Maybe. We’ll see. Our photos are here.