Jan 8, 2010

Day 4, Jan 5, ban doncha to vieng poukha

Sitting in open restaurant overlooking viang phouka. Arrived fairly early, around 1.30. Last night there was lots of commotion just outside the guesthouse in ban donchai, trucks passing by all night. Only bumpy gravel surface, soil I heard it bumping and clanging. On the road at 8. Just cookies for b/f.
Half the road is just gravel. Very hard going, up and down, down and up. Typically a grade is around 10% and goes for a couple of kilometers first up, then down, where you can reach speeds of almost 60 km/h. No problem, now that I have hydraulic disc brakes.
The bike proves itself absolutely worthwhile! First time on tour with front suspension, it makes a huge difference! And the disc brakes, too!
Again the picture is partially fairly recently denuded hill;, pockets of very dense prime forest, sometimes covering pretty large areas. Lots of second growth too. Bamboo thickets everywhere.
Every 15 km some small village, at the entrance the ubiquitious storage sheds on stilts. Most building are wooden huts with thatched roofs. But apparently the preference are cement dwellings.
There is a difference between the peoples higher up and those on river valley bottom. They look different and wear different dresses. And, of course the use the land differently. In the valleys one sees more rice paddies, on the mountain slopes it's corn, teak plantings.

Viang phouka is actually a sort of pleasant town. Must be the biggest between mhuay xai and luang namtha. Rode crisscross thru town checking things out. See also video.
The accommodation is a nice bungalow made out of most amazing wood. 50000 Kip.
In the evening dinner down the hill at the road.
Phantastic laab moo. And petpet! So will be the b/f.
7-8 propaganda broadcast on the pa. Same in the morning.

Km 57.91 ave 14.6 Tm 3.56

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