chapter 5: the adventure begins.... on a mystery tour we didn't know about.
08th October 2002 (old email posing as travel blog)
i was damn proud of myself this morning. got up at quarter past 4 in the morning, walked up 329 steps with panda, with only our torchlights as guidance, to reach the top of phousy hill, and watched the sunrise. it was well worth it!
we then went down the hill, bought some sticky rice and saw the monks' procession. we knelt down by the side of the road and offered the sticky rice to them. we were gonna do it with Wanderah (sweet lady from the guest house) but we were too late coming down the hill, so we did it our own 'falang' (foreigner) way. we'd have to get up early again one morning and do it the Lao way with Wanderah.
at 8, we got on a tuk-tuk for an hour's journey ride through bumpity roads (yay!... hahahaa) to get to Ban Taet Paen, a village south of Luang Prabang.
that's when the mystery hike began.
we had no idea that the trek was gonna take up the whole day. we had thought the waterfalls (Kuang Xi waterfall) was gonna be the highlight.... the main course so to speak. it turned out to be the dessert.... well, maybe even just an after-eight-choc-mint.
we started trekking from about 9.15am (that's not including the steps up to phousy hill....) and didn't stop walking till 3.45pm, when we finally arrived at the waterfalls to take a well-deserved 10 minute dip in the cold waters. the trek was fantastic, although arduous.
we had absolutely no idea.
and our water supply wasn't all that ample either, but we managed.
the trek started easy.
big paved roads.
but as we proceeded on, the paths seemed to get smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller...... it got so ridiculous at one stage where the ground was all mushy and less than 2 feet wide. branches and leaves were intersecting our paths and poking into our faces every which way. poor panda only had sandals and socks on, and was imagining herself sliding off the mountain, like in a wet 'n' wild adventure.
we must have been taken off the 'falang' (foreign) trekking paths and onto some real treks taken by.... i was imagining, guerillas.
i was also thinking, if there were any, which i don't think there will be... i won't have nothing to shoot with except my camera. not that i want to anyway.
and this ridiculous idea continued to.... ahem.... what if wars were fought with cameras! i mean, during the day, u shoot your enemies with your camera when u see them, just like u'd shoot an AK-47. then by the end of the day, u develop those photos, and whoever was caught on film is out of the war-game.
.... no one dies!
i'm blaming this wild-thought on the air we were breathing... from the forest floor....
'cos most of the time we were so busy looking down, trying to find the best spot to place our foot on, so we won't slide off the mountain or step on a big-juicy millipede.
this is the first time i've gone trekking in a tropical forest and man it's an experience.
it's so lush!
well so lush as to be in your face most of the time! branches and leaves everywhere! and all sorts of insects (ack!)
anyway, we visited a couple of villages which were amazing!
panda reckoned these are places not a lot of 'falangs' (foreigners) come through 'cos the hill tribes she visited in vietnam were kinda touristy... and the villagers speak english. whereas, where we were today, they were more reserved and there was absolutely no hassling.
we felt like we were hassling them.
the two villages we visited are from 2 different tribes - the Khamu and the Hmong. i couldn't really tell the difference 'cos not a lot of them were wearing their tribal clothes (not sure if they even differ). and i've noticed that the few people who wear them are always the women.
at the first village with the Khamu tribe, we went to a little hut and saw this woman in the process of making paper out of bamboo bark. she was boiling the bark to make it softer. and then they'd beat it, boil them again, and hang them out to dry.
towards the end of our 'mystery-trek', our guide brought us through these rice fields and some sort of 'bean' field. they used these beans to make Lao Beer.
we ate some along the way.
but these crops are much taller than us, and 'cos they've grown them so close to one another, we had to swim (breaststroke) through them while walking on a one-n-a-half-foot footpath.
all these acrobatic stunts we did on the mountain pass. it was very exciting!
and panda got to pat her rice fields too.
she was a happy panda.
i think when we went through the crops, we went past another tribe. we trekked past 2 women with their days' pickings, and our guide said they are from the Lao Long tribe.
our guide was fab! he took us to places we would otherwise not have experienced or saw if we went with a normal trekking tour. he's the nephew of the sweet lady from the guest house. he's such a lovely boy. and the friend he brought along had this mean looking knife to cut away forest growth that were in our path.
all very exciting.
a big adventure for me and panda.
we were rightly shagged after that.
anyway, i'm signing off now. it's been a looOoOOoooong day,
a very very exhausted chi.