3. Luang Prabang - Vang Vieng - Vientiane
352 km, 6.5 hours
Life up here in the mountains of northern Laos is archaic. If it wouldn't be for the satellite dishes and the motorsooters in front of the houses, the street scenes might have looked identical some 100 years ago.
Family life is out in the open, everything is very public.
When I say that life happens outside of the houses I mean it happens in the roughly two to four meters between the dwelling and the edge of the highway due to the steepness of the terrain. People squat, there are no chairs or other seating, an occasional hammock can be seen. Sometimes people use a brick or a concrete block to sit on, mostly one just rest on the heels. Since it is pretty cold up here, all houses have a small fire going in front of them.
And I have to say it again: It is amazing to see how many kids live up here. In some villages there is a small brick house which is the school, here children cannot be seen on the street in these morning hours. In many other villages however the kids seem to enjoy a perpetual vacation from school.
The men are somewhere out and about, at least one can never see them sit with the women by the fire.
Even the smallest kids, the dogs, cats, little black pigs, chicken and goats run along side the edge of the highway, never a kid runs erratically into the path of a vehicle, it seems; although sometimes it takes your breath away when you see the big busses and truck pass by in such minimal distance at this "linear living room".
Today, more or less four month into my journey, is a day where I feel blessed to be able to see the countries I travel through; I am thankful to be able to experience the many sights, sounds and smells.
Speaking of which:
Up here at around 1,600 meters altitude I find the exact same smell of air which I remember from some ski vacations in the Swiss alps. The air is of an incredible freshness and with the many small wood burning fires it blends to this amazing mountain smell.
I am also thankful for the heated grips on the motorcycle!
The ride back on the 'million-curves-road' from Luang Prabang to Vientiane was again fantastic.
I stop briefly in Vang Vieng where the steep mountain road turn into a more moderate foothills circuit. From here on out to Vientiane is a quick 2.5 hour trip. Again, I cannot bring myself staying overnight in this place, so I guess it is again a more or less direct trip to the capital of Laos.
|The market village of Phou Khoun. Quick stop.|
|The motorcycle policeman of Phou Khoun|
|More motoscotters are coming.|
|The old, large CIA runway of Vang Vieng, so-called "Lima Site".|
|"Please Pay" for crossing over the wooden bridge.|