– ODO- 17281 – 17354km
– Location- 10km from Ban Namchat
– Weather- 22-27 mist rising from the mountains
I ended my second day on the road with my first night in my new tent, up only 80km from Van Vieng. After overdoeing my first day I then hit the mountains. I climbed 1600m in just 80kms of broken tarmac. Winding up roads without a hairpins heading right up what seemed the steepest route at all times. The tourist stops and bare fields gave way to villages lining the highway.
Lao villages is were staggered along the road with colourful painted houses. Often a single room. Wood stained dark with patterns carved at the butresses or bold concrete cubes of orange, pink and blue. The people are the most friendly I’ve met in SE Asia so far. Not over exhuberant or uninterested I have been greeted with a shy smile and “sabadee” before turning to talk of the “phalang” (foreigner) or just get back to the family dinner.
What struck me the most as the villages became smaller and road rose up higher into the mountains and further from the capital was the number of children. In the morning they’re in neat uniform walking in groups to school. In the evening they play along the side of the highway, dodging the ten tonne agregate trucks screaming down the hillside. To me they wave and smile or stare at the blankly. I’m not the first cycle traveler through here, I’ve seen others following this route, but with a bike worth more than the average salary of the country I am closer to and alien than some of these children can imagine.