Luang Nam Tha - Udomxai

Muang Xai Travel Blog

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Cycling around Luang Namtha.
The day started with another simple breakfast of French bread and eggs at half past 7. As we'd expected Keo did not turn up on time at 8, so we walked over to his guesthouse and knocked on his door. A couple of minutes later he came down looking pretty knackered. Obviously he'd been drinking a couple of Beerlao's too many last night. Fortunately he held up quite well and took us on the promised cycling tour anyway. But not before we finally exchanged some dollars for kip, turning all four of us into instant millionaires. ;-)

At the bike rental across the road we rented some sturdy looking mountain bikes, the type that was absolutely essential to navigate the surroundings of Luang Namtha since most of the roads consist of sand and stones. We rode out of Luang Namtha to That Luang Namtha, a golden coloured new stupa that had been build several years ago.
That Luang Namtha.
It sort of resembled the famous Pha That Luang stupa of Vientiane and unlike any other stupa I'd seen before you could actually enter this one. Inside was a Buddha statue and the walls were covered with the names of the sponsors and the amounts of kip they had donated. Keo asked us to sit down by the Buddha statue where we received a blessing from the stupa's caretaker. While chanting in Lao he tied little threads of cotton around our wrists.

After checking out the small hermit shrine behind the stupa we were on our way again. We cycled southwards past small villages and many, many rice fields. Eventually we arrived at That Phum Phuk, another stupa, which could be reached by climbing the 177 step naga stairs.
The three main population groups in Laos: low, middle and highland Lao.
At the top we found the old brick-and-stucco stupa that had probably been build in 1628, although it obviously had been renovated in a more recent century. During Second Indochina war an American bomb had knocked over the original stupa, which now remains here in that sorry state. Behind the old stupa a new but not too well maintained stupa had been build.

Another 10 km of cycling took us back to the center of Luang Namtha, were we dropped of our bikes and headed back for the hotel to check out. Before moving on to Udomxai we had lunch at the morning market first. Keo ordered us a big bowl of 'foe' (noodle soup), delicious and cheap as dirt ! After washing it down with a Beerlao, Keo showed us around the market explaining the food that people were selling here. Paul spotted a rather ominous looking bottle of greenish liquid, which turned out to be a stronger variety of lao-lao whiskey.
That Luang Namtha.
This was too much temptation for the man and shortly after one o'clock our comfy van was heading eastwards out of Luang Namtha, a bottle of lao-lao stuffed away in Paul's bag, bought at the ridiculous price of 70 cents.

After the first 35 kilometers the road to Udomxai went pretty bad. Whole pieces of road were missing and it was obvious that the road workers we passed still had a lot of work to do. This was the reason why the drive to Udomxai, a mere 120 km, took three and a half hours. Fortunately we made a stop at the Khamu village of Ban Nambotakay to stretch our legs and have a look at some ore hill tribe life. At a quarter to five we arrived in Udomxai, just in time to climb up the hill on which the Phu That stupa is located and see the sun go down behind the hills in the west.
Inside That Luang Namtha.
That's about all the fun you'll get in Udomxai, which is an interesting and dusty town, half of which looks like a construction site. Being this close to the border Udomxai is thriving on trade with China and as such doesn't have any really interesting sights. Fortunately, this town was only a temporary stop-off for us since a trip to Nong Khiaw was longer than one could do in one day. What's more, if we'd tried we'd missed this morning's cycling!

After quickly checking our e-mails Keo took us to a local restaurant for another Lao speciality. After the lao-lao whiskey, foe noodle soup, sticky rice and even fried buffalo skin it was now time to try 'laap'. A nice combination of minced meat with spices. Of course our taste for diversity needed more than that and we started and finished dinner with springrolls. It was still relatively early, but since we'd agreed to leave at eight for Nong Khiaw we decided to retire a bit earlier than normal today.
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Cycling around Luang Namtha.
Cycling around Luang Namtha.
That Luang Namtha.
That Luang Namtha.
The three main population groups i…
The three main population groups …
That Luang Namtha.
That Luang Namtha.
Inside That Luang Namtha.
Inside That Luang Namtha.
Receiving a blessing.
Receiving a blessing.
Hermit cave at That Luang Namtha.
Hermit cave at That Luang Namtha.
Surroundings of Luang Namtha.
Surroundings of Luang Namtha.
Surroundings of Luang Namtha.
Surroundings of Luang Namtha.
Surroundings of Luang Namtha.
Surroundings of Luang Namtha.
Surroundings of Luang Namtha.
Surroundings of Luang Namtha.
Paul applying for a new job.
Paul applying for a new job.
Climbing the 177 steps at That Phu…
Climbing the 177 steps at That Ph…
That Phum Phuk (new stupa).
That Phum Phuk (new stupa).
That Phum Phuk.
That Phum Phuk.
That Phum Phuk (bombed stupa).
That Phum Phuk (bombed stupa).
That Phum Phuk (bombed stupa).
That Phum Phuk (bombed stupa).
View from That Phum Phuk.
View from That Phum Phuk.
Joining the schoolkids ...
Joining the schoolkids ...
Noodle soup at Luang Namtha.
Noodle soup at Luang Namtha.
Noodle soup at Luang Namtha.
Noodle soup at Luang Namtha.
Day market at Luang Namtha.
Day market at Luang Namtha.
Ban Nambotakay.
Ban Nambotakay.
Ban Nambotakay.
Ban Nambotakay.
Kids at Ban Nambotakay.
Kids at Ban Nambotakay.
House at Ban Nambotakay.
House at Ban Nambotakay.
Khamu woman at Ban Nambotakay.
Khamu woman at Ban Nambotakay.
Temple of Phu That, Udomxai.
Temple of Phu That, Udomxai.
Phu That, Udomxai.
Phu That, Udomxai.
Sunset over Udomxai.
Sunset over Udomxai.
Keos sunset.
Keo's sunset.
Udomxai.
Udomxai.
Sunset over Udomxai.
Sunset over Udomxai.
What the hell are they feeding us …
What the hell are they feeding us…
Laap candlelight dinner in Udomx…
'Laap' candlelight dinner in Udom…
Muang Xai Hotels & Accommodations review
Dull and dusty accomodation
The Surinphone Hotel is like the rest of Udomxai: dull and dusty. Not that it's a punishment to stay here for one night but don't expect any lively ac… read entire review
Muang Xai
photo by: edsander