The Lao wilderness...and beyond
Nam Ha NPA Travel Blog› entry 385 of 424 › view all entries
A terrible night's sleep, or lack there of; several times we were awoken by dogs barking, the bloody cockerels at it again, and members of our family getting up at various points and stomping across the floorboards that made our heads bounce off the mattress. We were well and truly awake when an almighty vibrating and banging sound came from under the house. We realised that, at 5am, the vwoman of the house gets up to grind the rice on a large wooden contraption. It is a process that takes about an hour, so there was no hope of us getting back to sleep with the racket going on beneath us. There are gaps in the floors of the houses as it is only made of bamboo, so sound-proofing is not really an option here.
We eventually got up at about 6am, dressed under the covers (the kids of the house were already full eyes on us) and staggered over to the Chief's house.
After brekkie, we set off early for us at 830am and made the final trek up a hill, through a gap in the mountains and down to the road. The scenery up there was stunning, and the path wound through high bamboo plants. We made the road for 10am and again knew we were in for a bit of a wait for the truck to pick us up. we got comfy and played cards to pass the time. At 11am, a pick-up truck turned up and we all hopped in the back ready for a very bumpy and dusty 2 hour journey back to Muang Sing.
We stopped off at the very first village we stopped at on Day 1 where the woman smoked opium in the house. Gerda and Tanno collected the remaining gifts we had all bought to give to the families we stayed with - soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste - and took them to the village to give out along with the remaining balloons and paper. Being an Akha village, the now familiar wooden contraption that looks a bit like a giant catapult, stood guard at the entrance to the village. The story behind this got a little confusing with translation and so the following description is not accurate. What we gathered was, the catapult thing is tied back and gets released once a year on a special day. It is held in place for the rest of the year to keep away or to 'balance' the (possibly evil?) spirits that the Akha people believe in.
After 2 hours of enhaling a lot of dust, we arrived back in Muang Sing and had lunch at Pon's house. Reunited with our bags, we quickly made our way to the bus station and got on the 2pm minibus back to Luang Nam Tha. We were all exhausted, filthy, stinking and very very happy from the most amazing 4 days experience. What stands out so much in our minds was how welcoming these humble villagers were and how easy it was to make them smile and laugh. These people are living a traditional simple and yet incredibly hard life, a world away from modern life.
It was incredible to see and live with these people for a few days and really experience what every day life is like for them.