Luang Namtha, Laos, day 1 & 2

After our day in Oudamxay it was off to Luang Namtha. Our bus left at 8:30 and was supposed to be a 3 hour ride. We were once again the only non-locals on the bus which I like much better. We were really cruising along, making good time, until we hit this line of cars not moving. It was on one of those windy mountain roads so you couldn't really see very far, but no one was coming the other way either so there was something wrong ahead. Everyone just was sitting there, some got out and roamed around a bit, but I was so so glad we didn't have other tourists on the bus to complain about the delay. 

There was this super friendly guy sitting behind us who was super excited to try out his english skills with us. We sat there for about an hour before we started moving again and then it was a quick ride into town. We didn't have far to go and we passed the problem - a landslide that had to be cleared as it was blocking the road. 

When we got to the bus station it is a bit outside of town so we jumped in a tuk tuk with everyone else. There was an older lady who wanted to get dropped off by the one temple so we got there and the tuk tuk pulled over like here you go. She was just like no this isn't right! And everyone else was arguing with her, that this is where she wanted. She wandered off for a bit then came back with some other people and was still like no this isn't right! I don't really know what she wanted, but whatever it was the tuk tuk driver was not giving in. Eventually everyone else was just like leave her! or something. We eventually started going and got dropped off in town. 

Now Luang Namtha is not that big. The main road with shops and the market and everything is only a couple blocks long. You can walk farther in either direction, but there isn't much to see. Then lots of side roads with houses and then rice fields bordering the town. There were a ton of puppies though! Every side road had at least 3 puppies wandering around!! 

We needed to get some money so Raymond went to do that and I was standing on the street and this lady came up and started talking to me. She was trying to figure out where we were from and then she kept trying to sell me these necklace. Then pointed to my bag then made a money gesture and I couldn't figure out what she wanted as I was tired and hungry. I told Raymond and he was like money for food. Of course! Still I didn't have anything so I couldn't have given her anything...

 
Our hotel was right across the street and seemed to be where everyone who was visiting was staying. There were not that many visitors in town. They had a restaurant so we had lunch there once we got settled - tofu burgers and fries! Pretty tasty and something different after tons of noodles and rice. 

 
It was raining off and on while we were eating, but there was a break in the rain after we finished so we went to explore the town and see what we might want to do the next day. 

 
Yes this is the bustling main street

 
I'm glad they had this in english as well so I knew what it was! In our exploring we found a jungle trek that sounded like fun so we signed up for that. Then back to the room to laze around and play cards since it was so stormy out. 

 
There was a vegetarian restaurant in town so I wanted to eat there, but it was closed! So we just had dinner at the bakery cafe next to our hotel. More fried noodles! So much food we saved half for breakfast the next morning. When we walked in there was a couple sitting at the table next to the one we sat at and they were just like excuse me, where are you from? Apparently they play a game where they try and guess where everyone is from. I said originally the US, but we live in Germany and the girl was just like yes! I said Germany! But the guy was all, no you said Israel first! I asked what he guess and he thought Switzerland. It was fun. 


 
The next day didn't start out the best. We had a room at the very end of the hall by some houses with roosters and chickens. I didn't think anything of it when I went to bed, but at 3am the rooster started crowing...the windows didn't block out anything. It sounded like it was in the room next to me. Not a problem, I thought, I can block it out. I turned on the fan to high to try and block it out - didn't work. I put in ear plugs as that should block it out. Nope. I couldn't hear anything else, couldn't hear the fan, and the rooster was slightly muffled, but still way too loud. It was driving me crazy!! Me and rooster were not bff. Needless to say I was a bit tired, and luckily we were able to switch rooms for the next night. 

 
Then our jungle trek was supposed to go to a village and learn about their customs and how they make some things, try some things out, then walk through the jungle to the waterfalls. Well that is not what happened. We showed up and things were a bit chaotic, and the guy was just like this will be fun! We are going to be cutting the trail as we go! This is the first time on forever that we have gone on this path! Yeah...I just thought I don't want to do that. But I knew Raymond would enjoy it and they gave him something to cut the path with. Only it wasn't very sharp so he couldn't really do much, but he was excited when we started out. 

 
So we had a guide, someone who lives in the area, but we also got a guide from the village where we started to show us where to go. It actually was good that they were cutting the path as then I could stop and take photos and not fall behind. 



 
Rubber trees. I don't know that I have ever seen them before, definitely not with it dripping out like that. They were at the start of the hike and really neat. Sure I have heard of rubber trees, but didn't realize it came out kind of like maple syrup. Crazy. 

 
Cutting trail! The path was really damp from all the rain and slipper - not good as it was on a steep hillside. Our guide did stop and make us some walking sticks that helped greatly. Now on to lots of fungus and tiny things along the trail







 
I loved these ones as they really did look like wood


 
Some edible nuts we stopped and snacked on



 
Nuts we couldn't eat

 
Crazy vines!




 
 
Then we stopped for lunch around 11:30 and our guide was like alright. We will eat and then the local guide will head back - I hope we don't get lost! hahaha....So lunch was sticky rice, veggies, tomato jeow, and long beans with a tiny banana for dessert. 



 
After lunch we continued on and didn't end up where we were supposed to. 











 
We had to back track a few times and just wandering all over down different trails until I was just like I don't really care where we go, I just want to get down off the hillside. 




 


 
And then finally we saw some rubber trees! Then I knew we were almost down. 



 
There was a small cabin and someone tending the rubber trees and we stopped for a short break there. Our guide was talking to him about where he should have gone to end up at the waterfalls. 






 
We ended up walking through some rice fields to get back to the road where we could catch the tuk tuk back to town. It was really beautiful walking through them - such a bright green and you could see out over the valley









 
Once we got out of the rice fields we came across this brick factory which was interesting to look around. 

 
And the ducks and chickens sitting in the ash. They were so silly. 



 
And down the rocky road until we got our tuk tuk. We could have walked 6km more to go down to the waterfalls, but they didn't look amazing and we were both tired so we planned to go see them the next day instead. 

 
After getting showers (we were both super muddy) we got some snacks and a banana shake at the hotel restaurant. Delicious! While we were eating our snacks that lady from the day prior came by with another lady selling stuff. They were selling bracelets and I was trying to be nice, but said no thank you, but they wouldn't leave. They kept pointing at our food and talking in lao like we could understand and it was not good. I really didn't like it. Like they got to the point where I was very uncomfortable as they seemed to be very angry and yelling at us and was going to see if I could ask someone that worked there if they could ask them to leave since they wouldn't leave us alone. They weren't as bad with anyone else so I am not sure why they harassed us so much, but it was not cool. Even if I had money or wanted something they had I wouldn't have given it to them as they were just yelling at me and I don't like that. They just wandered the streets harassing tourists and there weren't many tourists so...they just kept harassing us. It really made me not want to go back to Luang Namtha even though everything else I enjoyed. I just don't want to have to deal with them again...



We sat and played some cards until dinnertime. The vegetarian place was open so we had some wood fire pizza and potatoes which were both delicious! An adventurous day even if it was not the adventure we were expecting. 

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