35 Days in Laos

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Laan Yaa Mo
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35 Days in Laos

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » September 21, 2014, 11:08 pm

Thanks sgt for adding to this with your own experience. I, too, was surprised that I did not encounter any animosity toward westerners and the U.S. in the time that I was in Laos.
ເຮົາຈະລ່ວງພັ້ນຄວາມຕາຍໄປ່ບໍ່ໄດ

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35 Days in Laos

Post by GARYZX6R » September 22, 2014, 8:15 am

Enjoy reading about your trip ,hope theres more to come .

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Laan Yaa Mo
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35 Days in Laos

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » September 22, 2014, 6:22 pm

Thanks. Yes, I will report on my trips to Luang Namtha and Muang Sing, and give some final thoughts on the experience and discuss the English language newspaper, 'The Vientiane Times'.
ເຮົາຈະລ່ວງພັ້ນຄວາມຕາຍໄປ່ບໍ່ໄດ

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35 Days in Laos

Post by boes » September 23, 2014, 2:11 pm

Thank you for a very well written and entertaining report. I'll have to go there again soon !

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Laan Yaa Mo
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35 Days in Laos

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » September 23, 2014, 6:34 pm

Thank you. This adventure added a new chapter to my life, and I would recommend a trip to Laos for a few weeks and more to anyone interested in a unique and fascinating people, culture and country,
ເຮົາຈະລ່ວງພັ້ນຄວາມຕາຍໄປ່ບໍ່ໄດ

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35 Days in Laos

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » September 28, 2014, 11:08 pm

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I just spent two hours writing my report on Luang Namtha and Muang Sing. When I pressed submit, there was an indication I had to log in again. On doing that, my message was gone. I do not have the inclination to try and write that lengthy missive over again. Maybe next week.
ເຮົາຈະລ່ວງພັ້ນຄວາມຕາຍໄປ່ບໍ່ໄດ

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35 Days in Laos

Post by JimboPSM » September 28, 2014, 11:42 pm

Laan Yaa Mo wrote:.... I just spent two hours writing my report.... When I pressed submit, there was an indication I had to log in again. On doing that, my message was gone. I do not have the inclination to try and write that lengthy missive over again....
Been there, done that and got the tee shirt :oops:

After the pain of that happening a few times ](*,) #-o I eventually latched on to the benefit of writing lengthy posts in "Word" or similar and then just copying the finished product into "POSTREPLY".

Sorry I've not posted this advice before, but I thought it was just me and that everyone else was smarter than I was with computers and posting on the forum.
Ashamed to be English since 23rd June 2016 when England voted for racism (and economic suicide)

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Laan Yaa Mo
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35 Days in Laos

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » September 29, 2014, 12:04 am

555+ No, I am in the same boat as you were. Thanks for the advice, and sympathy.
ເຮົາຈະລ່ວງພັ້ນຄວາມຕາຍໄປ່ບໍ່ໄດ

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35 Days in Laos

Post by BobHelm » September 29, 2014, 6:52 am

It depends what internet browser you are using,but Chrome is quite user friendly on this point.

If it happens you can press the page back button (the left facing arrow at the very top left of the browser) which will get you back to your written but unpublished article. From that you can open Udonmap in a new browser window & re-log onto the Forum. Then go back to your written article & re=submit it..

Great postings about the more out of the way parts of Laos, Uncle.
I am thoroughly enjoying your escapades.. :D

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35 Days in Laos

Post by Shado » September 29, 2014, 8:30 am

On doing that, my message was gone.
This has happened to me enough times that when I now have written something fairly lengthy I will automatically highlight and copy the text before hitting preview or submit. It gets to be a habit after a while.

(didn't bother for this post) 8)

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Laan Yaa Mo
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35 Days in Laos

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » October 5, 2014, 11:05 pm

Thanks for the advice. I will try, try again, and copy it prior to hitting the submit button.

I am using Google Chrome.
ເຮົາຈະລ່ວງພັ້ນຄວາມຕາຍໄປ່ບໍ່ໄດ

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35 Days in Laos

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » October 5, 2014, 11:40 pm

Well, it is time to try and write about my escapades in Luang Namtha (ຫລວງນໍ້າທາ) again.

As I mentioned above, I ended up going to Viang Chan (Vientiane, ວຽງຈັນ) to extend my visa for another week in Laos. You can do this at the Immigration Office, which is across the road from the Talat (Market) Sao. This is an interesting market in itself, as it sells all sorts of products. Inside you can purchase luggage, electronics, do banking and eat ice-cream and such. Outside you can buy vegetables, fruit, meat, and eat noodle dishes. Most important, there are about 5 people selling vcds. Anyway, it took a day to get the visa, and I was on my way by air (Lao Airlines) to Luang Namtha on the afternoon of 12 August.

The flight was uneventful, which is a good thing. One waits in the arrival lounge for your luggage. It comes on a conveyor belt that is very short so you have to be quick to grab your stuff before it falls on the floor.

I shared a truck ride to the Dok Champa Hotel with 12 other passengers who were graduate students from the University of Manila. We were packed in like sardines, which did not bother me too much; however, two of the male students were hanging on to the back of the truck when the heavens opened, and the rain began to pour down.

I reserved a room a few days prior to arrival, and it turned out to be the best one in the hotel. There was air-conditioning, but it wasn't needed in the cooler temperatures. The fan was good enough. There was a refrigerator, a kettle for tea/coffee and a tv that got one Chinese channel from Bangkok. The room was clean, big and it had a hot-water shower. The view was spectacular with the mountains in plain view.

Luang Namtha is a series of villages that extends from the so-called new town to the old town. During the Vietnam War, the town was decimated by U.S. bombs. The town itself has two interesting markets, and a few temples. Tourists, in particular backpackers, love this place as it is a gateway to treks, kayaking, rafting, Burma and China. The less adventurous, like me, can rent a bicycle and visit nearby hill-tribe villages and a waterfall. This was my plan.

The rain let up a bit so I went for a walk and discovered a number of places that booked tours, an excellent internet cafe, and I met my first Akha lady. To my chagrin, after she invited me to take her photograph, she began a sales pitch for a really poorly made bracelet.

That evening the rain stopped, and I went to eat at the outdoor night market. I met some of the student group from the University of Manila. One was from Vietnam, and others were from the Philippines, Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. We sat together and I learnt that they were in Luang Namtha for five weeks as part of their research project to study the impact of irrigation projects on the local population. The previous day the Lao government held a reception for them. All of them had received scholarships, and all of their expenses were paid for by the University. They were very friendly, and seemingly devoted to their research.

All of them had som tham (papaya salad) but without the heat. No chilies for this crew.

By this time my Akha friend had appeared with three more ladies in tow. They were the most persistent, annoying sellers of low-quality items I have ever met. The Akhas would not take no for an answer. As you were eating they would mumble some gibberish about the items they were trying to pawn, tug at your sleeve and follow you to the food sellers. They were great! 555+ They were annoying, but funny and you could not help but like them.

Finally, I decided to help them out, and would point to a new group of falangs who had arrived, and they would shuffle over to harass the new targets.

If the West is really serious about slowing down ISIS (ISIL, IS, Dash), they should hire these Akha ladies. No-one can escape their grasp, and they can bring anyone and anything to a standstill. 555+
ເຮົາຈະລ່ວງພັ້ນຄວາມຕາຍໄປ່ບໍ່ໄດ

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35 Days in Laos

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » October 6, 2014, 12:05 am

I awoke the next day to heavy rain which put a damper on any plans to head out to nearby villages and the waterfall. The students were not able to make it to their village to begin their interviews with the local farmers about the effect of irrigation on their lives.

I had a good soaking on my walk (about 15 minutes) to the day market. It was fascinating. There were loads and loads of food items for sale as well as a number of small restaurants. In addition, there were some tribal people bartering and trading with the sellers.

I spent most of the morning and a few hours of the afternoon talking with the restaurant owners and workers. Well, they are not so much restaurants as places to eat. All of the cooking is by wood stove. The owner plunks down a table or two and some chairs in front of the stove. The women then serve some of the most delicious food you can eat for breakfast and lunch. I usually had noodle soup with pork, and vegetables. It sounds simple, but it tastes so good and feels healthy.

I got into the conversation when one 21-year old worker complained about her weight of 50 kilograms. I told her not to worry as I was hovering around 90, and that she looked great. Subsequently, I guessed their ages fairly accurately and learnt about their families, lives and hopes in life. They asked me many questions too. The time flew by and the rain continued to pour down.

Afterwards, I walked around in circles in the downpour trying to locate the local bus station as I wanted to visit Muang Sing (ເມືອງສີງ) the next morning. I could not find any signs to lead me in the right direction, and none of the people I asked knew what I was talking about. Finally, after about an hour of this, I remembered that Isaan people do not pronounce 'r'. I had been asking for the 'baw kaw saw' or the 'rot may'. I switched and asked for the 'lot' (ລົດເມ), and was pointed in the right direction. It was only about a 5-minute walk from the hotel.

That evening I went for a long walk in the light rain and came across a young girl around 12 years old selling a yellow liquid in a plastic water bottle by the side of the road. I asked her if it was whisky, and she said, 'no, gasoline'.
ເຮົາຈະລ່ວງພັ້ນຄວາມຕາຍໄປ່ບໍ່ໄດ

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35 Days in Laos

Post by Laan Yaa Mo » October 11, 2014, 10:58 pm

On the morning of 14 August, I took the bus to Muang Sing (ເມືອງສີງ) from Luang Namtha. At least I thought the journey would be by bus, but it turned out to be by the dreaded minivan. The driver packed five passengers into the three seats available in my row. Luckily, I got an outside one but the old lady beside me was really squished between myself and the lady on her other side.

One interesting point was prior to departure. I saw this Chinese lady handing out envelopes to the drivers, ticket-collectors and baggage handlers at the bus station. Also, I saw this happen in Oudomxai, and at the night market in Luang Prabang a few times in which the woman would give envelopes to the people manning the stalls. This leads me to think that a fairly well-off Chinese runs the bus companies and night markets and every few weeks gives out wages to the people that work for her. Does anyone have any idea about this?

I do not know for sure but the last time I saw it happen in Luang Prabang, I asked the lady if I could have one of those envelopes too. She just smiled, and said not this time. 55+

The bus trip to Muang Sing was over a paved road and took just under two hours through some very beautiful scenery, and past a number of hill-tribe villages.

The rain began almost as soon as we got off the bus. There is a small market beside the Muang Sing bus station. It was awkward getting around owing to the mud and potholes. There were a number of planks to keep the buyers from having to walk through the muck; however, it was not always easy to keep one's balance when trying to negotiate the wooden planks. I only stayed about 15 minutes, and walked over to the larger market across the street.

This was just a short exploratory trip for me as I wanted to find out what there was to see in Muang Sing for a future trip. The town itself is quite small, but I discovered that this former centre of the Golden Triangle opium trade (it is close to both Burma and China) houses a few historic Thai Lue wats, and is close to a number of hilltribe villages where you can stay a day or more, or just visit for an hour or so. The guesthouses are a bit rustic as they seem to lack western-style washrooms, but they are clean enough.

The new and large market has Chinese script as much as Lao as uses Chinese currency probably more than the Lao kip.
The first seller I encountered in the large market was selling a young liquid in a plastic water bottle. I remembered my encounter with the young girl in Luang Namtha and thought I would show off my local knowledge a bit by asking her if the bottles contained gasoline. 'No', she replied, 'whisky'.Ah, yes, of course. 555+ In fact there were two ladies selling whisky, and they attracted quite a lineup of the young and old. A few very young hilltribe girls, as well as men who looked like they were town drunks, were eagre to sample the free capfuls. This was around 10 in the morning.

This market is colourful owing the large number of items for sale, and the hilltribe people who sell and buy here. I ate breakfast and bought a few items for my kids from one lady who was fun to bargain with. It was a piece of cloth that could be used on a mantel. 70,000 kip she told me. I responded with 20,000. 'Oooooooooooooooooooh' she called out in a pained voice, and lowered her price to 65,000 kip. I decided to use the same tactic, and called out, 'Oooooooooooooh', which attracted a crowd. We bantered back and forth for a few minutes and finally settled on 40,000 kip (160 baht). Not bad.

As I expected, once the purchase was complete, the other hill tribe ladies all said that it was only fair that I buy something from them too. I hightailed it out of there as fast as my varicose-riddled veins would permit me to flee.

There are currency sellers at this market. The most popular currency traded is the Chinese yuan. The lady seller told me that traders from China will buy Lao kip, but mostly it is the local sellers who want Chinese money. The Burmese kyat is also available here. I had some Thai baht and exchanged these for Lao kip at a very good rate from her.

I left the market by a different way and a beautiful rice field was revealed to me. In addition, there was a young lady part way in the muck adjusting her dress so she could use the paddy field as a toilet. This was highly amusing. She gave me a sweet smile on her way back to the market.

The main street just consists of a few blocks of not very interesting stores before it leads off into the distance. By the time I went back and forth, the rain became heavy and I went back to Luang Namtha satisfied that I would return to Muang Sing for some exploring and visiting minority villages next year.

By the way, the Burmese border is about two hours away; however, you cannot cross at this point. But, you can cross into Yunnan, China, which is about two hours further north.

The rain did not let up in Luang Namtha but this did not deter me from going back to the day market to talk and joke with the sellers until the early evening.

I went back to say goodbye to my four Akha lady friends at the night market. When they first saw me, it was 'buy, buy this, buy, pleeeeeeeeeeeeease. Once I explained that I would be leaving in the morning, we had a friendly talk and I got a good photo of them. We said our fond farewells.

Little did I know that I would run into them again after a short walk. This time they were back in pleading mode...for food. They put their fingers together and motioned holding some imaginary morsel and placing it in their mouths. They did it in unison too. I could not refuse and gave them 2,000 kip (80 baht).

The next morning I took the proper bus (proper because it was not cramped) to Oudomxai and Luang Prabang. The road was paved and free of potholes all the way to Oudomxai. The ride was interesting because I met a very friendly Lao man, and two nice people from Spain who were now living in Belgium. The Lao was interesting and very curious about visitors in his country.
ເຮົາຈະລ່ວງພັ້ນຄວາມຕາຍໄປ່ບໍ່ໄດ

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35 Days in Laos

Post by Bandung_Dero » November 13, 2014, 4:15 pm

Thank you for an interesting read.

TW and I have just arrived into the Sentawan Riverside Hotel for a few days R & R and I was quite surprised by the changes since our last visit here, in particular on the river front. Some hints and questions (if not mentioned earlier):-

If your staying or spending most of your time close to the river or in Vientiane set your mobile phone 'Network' to manual from automatic then select your Thai service provider. If you don't do this your phone will be redirected through a Lao provider and your call costs will increase dramatically. I still get high signal strength 'bars' in most locations.

My Thai TrueMove H 3G dongle works well over here, as well, so I do not have to rely on the Hotels Wifi service.

Speaking of which they stuffed my booking up and we arrived to a fully booked situation up to the Deluxe Room standard. They apologized prolifically and offered us a $150 USD per night suite at no extra charge, we hummed and hard then accepted. =D>

Where have the Farang Bars moved to which were located on/near the river and taken over by the promenade? TW is taking an afternoon nap so I may sneak out for a few.
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