Thursday, April 5, 2018

Life is Calmer in Laos

We head out for the day.  This one started with a two hour climb up a steep hill.  We entered Laos from the Vietnam border where it also butts up to Cambodia.  A densely jungled mountainous landscape, peppered with huge, bare trunks of towering trees.  Quite a change from the ultra-organized landscape of Vietnam, where even mountaintops were planted with orchards of trees.

Pigs - a fun aspect of the roads of Laos.  We see all kinds.  Fit ones, fat ones, muddy ones, clean ones. Lots and lots of pigs.
The majority of buildings along the road are wood homes.  The breezeway below is a work space where you see families sitting on a wooden platform working on some project.  Colorful clothes hang from the windows, kids yell out "Sa ba dee!"  Sampson's bike has become known as the rock finder while mine has been named the dog catcher - we do our best to avoid collision with obstacles on our path but sometimes....

Markos takes on the rough road before him.  While the majority of the roads we are on are paved in Laos, we sometimes chose a dirt route, an this one was the roughest one of the trip yet.  Thankfully it was generally downhill for 40 kilometres.

Laap, sticky rice, lettuce, green beans and fresh herbs, and because it is Sampson's 17th birthday lunch, giant iced down cups of pressed sugarcane juice.  Streetside lunches are either Laap or rice noodle soup with greens and a variety of meats.

Cake!  Markos spotted a little bakery counter along the road between the open air hardware store and a general everything store.  Yippee!  Sampson got to celebrate his 17th Birthday western style.
We pass by numerous Buddhist Wats during the day, and we are back to asking to camp at them.  They are quiet, peaceful and interesting places to rejuvenate our bodies each night.

Laos = Calm
Laos has a population of 7 million persons compared to 92 million persons in Vietnam
Laos is noted as the “poorest” southeast Asian country.  Our observation: in rural areas people live in raised stilt wooden homes, keep fenced gardens, sweep their living spaces, burn all rubbish.  Pigs, chickens, goats, cows, water buffalo, people seem to stay put.  Kids walk to school along the road.  Few bicycles, some motorbikes, newer trucks use the roads, along with older looking silver or gold spray painted van/trucks. 
No noise violations as of yet (no loud mosques, amplified sermons from churches or music from temples.)

We are back to asking to camp at Buddhist temples.  Afternoons we spend sitting still in the shade.  Boys hang their hammocks and do school.  Rick takes a nap or works on the bikes making interesting conversation with the numerous kids that are drawn to him (no, they don't speak English.)  Tanya filters water, writes in her journal and does some mending project. Our bucket-washed clothes hang in the sun.  Same clothes every day - long sleeve sun-shirts, bandanas over faces, sun-bleached shorts.

We have a couple new additions to the items we carry:  a foot scrub brush (heels don't have to be permanently blackened from flip flop use) and also an electric water kettle.  Check out what Rick can cook with it:
boiled water for coffee, rice, pasta, rice noodles, oatmeal
hard boiled eggs
boiled vegetables in chicken broth 

When we stay at a hotel, cooking with the camp stove isn't always an option so the electric kettle has been super helpful.  Also, early morning breakfast at 5:30 is a quick fix/clean-up when all we need is boiled water.

We are super happy to be biking in Laos and continue loving the adventure of the unknown each day.

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