Jan 8, 2010

Day 5, Jan 6, vieng poukha to luang namtha

6.30 am, everbody up! For you gotta listen to the national anthem, quite a nice one actually, but then some. I guess, political indoctrination. That is some progress to what I experienced in vietnam 16 years ago, they would start the propaganda broadcast at 5! Same earsplitting volume though.
On the road at 9. Again some climbing but less than yesterday. The cliffs rise on both sides of the road. On the narrow valley floor rice paddies recently being planted. After 20 km i get to the kao rai cave. Through banana plantings goes a trail for 200m and ends at the cliff wall where the gated entrance is. After 20min the gate keeper comes and lets me in. Actually he guides me. First a side shaft in and up maybe for 200 m. It's damp and warm, rather unusual. Back to the main shaft we follow that one for maybe 400m. It's quite big, up to 30 m high. Towards where we turn around, are travertine teracces. One can see how high the water will be the next raining season.
Back on the highway. The road levels out, sort of. It goes only 100 m up, then it's coasting down again. But there are few stretches which are steeper and higher! Crossing the nam ha np. More primary forest, amazing landscape and nature! Still, there is active (illegal) logging. And the military is in involved as one photo shows.
At 1.30 I arrive in luang namtha and ride straight to the boat landing gh. It's $40 a night, but I don't care, yesterday I paid only $5, so it's a good average. My bungalow is on the bluff above the nam tha river.
Later I bike into the country side along rice paddies on the way to that phum phuk (that=pagoda), which was toppled by a bomb during the second indochina war. Right next to it a copy of the original stupa had been erected.
Back to the highway and into the new town. The vulgar taste of newly rich can be seen everywhere. Disgusting new buildings! Mostly Chinese owned. After a first dinner at a Indian restaurant back to the lodge for a second dinner. Listening to the frog concert.

Km 76.72. Ave 20.4. Tm 3.45

Don't forget to read Tom dooley's 'the edge of tomorrow' and 'the night they burned the mountain'

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