Luang Namtha, Laos Day 2

 
Day 2 in Luang Namtha we decided to go for a bike ride around the countryside. The guidebook said you could pick up a map from the tourist office and do a 20km loop. Not bad, not that far, so we decided to go for it. Bike rentals were only 15,000 Kip - Less than $2 for the day!

 
We first had breakfast at the veggie place - here is the vegan big breakfast. Toast (not in the photo), potatoes, veggies, beans and tomatoes. Super tasty and lots of food to fuel our morning bike ride. 

 
First stop was the morning market. We were looking for it and found the Chinese market first. I was looking for a new watch since mine broke, and they had some there, but they were way too expensive. Everything in the Chinese market was more than I would pay here for it so it was odd. I am not sure how they could stay in business since everywhere else everything is so much cheaper...Anyways we walked through the Chinese market and found the fresh morning market which was huge! So much fresh produce and animals and  treats and a big area of just food to eat for breakfast like soup and such. All of those food places had fresh noodles and these bowls of bright neon green, pink, and purple stuff. No idea what it was - maybe some kind of rice flour thing? It just seems off to eat bright neon things in your soup. 

 
After the market we biked up the hill to spy on the Wat you can see from town. We got to the stairs and locked out bikes up to walk the rest of the way


 
Wat Samakkyxay - the doorway is not centered...


 
 
And That Luang Namtha


















 
The view from the hill

 
Then it was  back to riding out bikes south to the next Wat. The road was mostly flat with a few small hills and paved and just a really nice ride.





 
This strange dinosaur with a bird on its head is at That Poumpouk. I have no idea why...

 
That Poumpouk - it was as nicely maintained as most of the other ones








 
The stairs leading up to That Poumpouk - It was a lot of stairs

 
There had been a few kids on the stairs as we were walking up, and we had left our bikes at the bottom. When we got back down the bikes had multiplied and suddenly there were a ton of children. They were really cute and just kept waving and saying "Sabaidi" (hello). Really they just ran all around and were really excited we were there. 

 
Then we cycled through an Akha weaving village. I should have taken a photo of the people making the yarn as it was a bit crazy, but I only got this lady weaving something. I did stop and ask this lady if I could take her photo, this was just in front of her house, and  she looked a bit embarrassed, like you want to take my photo? But she said it was okay.


 
By lots of rice fields. It was really gorgeous and not super sunny which was nice. In the morning we didn't see many other people on the road, but by the time we got back to the main road from the village there were so many school kids. Lots of bikes and scooters and kids just walking. They were all coming towards us so the school must have been past where we went. 


 
We stopped for lunch at a place by the river - The Boat Landing. 

 
They had way too many options for us to choose from! We had tofu sa - the northern version of laab and Nam Pik Awng - a northern specialty is what the menu said. A spicy tomato joew with tofu. Delicious!









 
The above photos were all taken around The Boat Landing property. It is also a guesthouse and was really lovely. A guy from Switzerland and his wife were the only other people there and we were talking to him about his travels a bit. He and his wife have this giant van thing and they are just driving around with no permanent home. He is living my dream!


 
Then on for more bike riding, but the afternoon was more of an adventure than the morning. It had rained the night before so all afternoon we were on dirt roads, a lot of which were a muddy mess. I had to keep getting off and walking my bike as it kept trying to slide out from under me. Then we got to a turn off that went to the river we had to cross and we go down and...there is no bridge. The water was moving very quickly and there was a guy standing right there who just smiled and indicated the water was chest deep so no go to cross it. So we backtracked out to the main road which wasn't too bad. 

 
Then we turned down another main road and were looking for the turn off to go ride along the inner path like our map indicated. The main road wasn't bad, all of the cars honk as they are coming towards you so you know they are there and then they swing way wide of you. And there just wasn't that much traffic in general so we could have, should have, just stayed on that main road. But did we? No. We wanted to go on the bike loop the map said. 

 
So we finally found a turn off and road through another village and out on the small path we were looking for. In the village we picked up a lot of kids on bikes who followed us having fun for a bit. Outside the village the path turned into this like cow track - supper narrow, muddy, just not that good. 

 
Finally the track turned into this giant puddle where the canal overflowed and there was no way to tell how deep it was or even how big as we couldn't see the other side so we turned around. Only by this time we were getting tired, I was super sore all over - my hands hurt from the ribbing on the handlebars, my butt hurt, everything hurt. So instead of going the whole way back to the village - it was a little ways back - we mistakenly decided to just cut through the rice field. I mean we did the day prior and it was okay...yeah not our best decision of the day. The paths are very narrow so it was really hard to get our bike and ourselves down them. 

 
By the time we got to the middle of the rice fields I had reached my limit. I was so tired, just exhausted, I was just done. The only other time I remember being this tired was heading up to Muir pass on the PCT. Then, like here, I just didn't think I would make it. I was just too tired to go on. Like I didn't think that I could physically keep going. If there would have been room I would have just sat down and stayed there for a bit. Raymond was amazing though. I just completely shut down and he kept taking his bike ahead them coming back and getting mine/helping me. I remember at one point there was this little stream of water to step across and the other side was all muddy. I just stood there forever staring at it. I am done. I can't do it. Oh it was bad. I just needed to step across, but I was too tired to even do that until Raymond came back and helped me across. I really am lucky to have him. 

 
I also remember one time I was pushing my bike and it fell over and I just stood there looking at it. It was kind of propped up by the rice, but it was slowly falling and I just watched it until finally I was like okay. I should probably tip this back up before it gets too far and I can't. Yeah. I was toast. 

 
We finally made it to the road with lots of scratches and super muddy. I was just soooo tired! We didn't have that far to go to get back to town and the road was slightly downhill, but not enough where you could just sit on your bike and it would go. You still had to pedal some and even that was too much for me. Then to get back to town we had to turn of onto another main road and go up a bit of a hill - I had to stop and walk that as there was no way I could pedal up it. But then the best part - when you got to the top of the hill you could just coast the whole way into town! Oh it was magical. 


 
Us turning out bikes in after a long day of riding. 



And celebrating with some banana smoothies! Besides all of the fun adventures and just hitting a wall on the way back to town it was a really nice day. The rice fields were lovely to ride next to, such a bright green color with the layers of mountains in the distance, all the kids we passed, even the ones that could barely talk, were so cute shouting "Sabaidi" as we road by. It was just beautiful. So you know how I said at the beginning that the guidebook said it was a nice 20km loop? I kept trying to figure out why I was so tired since it wasn't that long. Well the next morning we were talking with some people who did the same loop as us and it was really a 75-80km loop! That is just a tiny bit more than 20.  

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