Jan 15, 2010
Day 10, jan11, na teuy to boun tai
A long and hard riding day. I started at 8.30 and it went pretty smooth the first dozens of km to the turn off to ban kouang.
On every bike trip I try to do a stage or two to or through undiscovered resp. unexplored areas. This time i planned going to phongsali not via udomxai, but shortcutting from a point southeast of the junction where the road leads to boten/china. I could not get any information about this area. On different maps it shows various trails going north to boun tai. But all the maps about Laos are absolutely imprecise. fortunately the jct. is signposted as it is another road to china which forks off 20 km to the north. It's all dusty, bumpy, rocky, everything but smooth and paved. Oh, and it's another rollercoaster... It goes through an amazing landscape. Every 5 to 10 km one passes by or through a village populated by one of the many hilltribes. What an eyesight! Not only for me but for them too. Coz' they have never seen a 'farang' coming through their village and not on a bicycle anyway. Most women and girls still wear their traditional dresses. Not so the male youngsters, they dress more like thai hipsters, what they see on tv. That is one of the very few symptoms of the modern age one can see in those areas, most villages have a satellite dish (run on generators).
All over the northern provinces opium was a main crop. Those times are over though it's still possible to obtain opium if one really wants it.
Various efforts (e.g. chinese dea involvement) pretty much succeded to eradicate large scale poppy farming (it's being done in myanmar now) Poppy has been substituted by crops such as tea, cane, teak, etc.
Finally after almost 8 hrs on the bike I got to boun tai. Contrary to previous bike trips this time I didn't have a hard time to figure out the correct trail. All the people I asked knew the way. That is a rather unusual experience. By the time I found the (only and unmarked) hotel in boun tai it was 6.30 and getting dark.
Exhausted, but exhiliarated i had a multi course dinner. And a few beerlao...
Km 101. Ave 13.6. Tm 7.23