Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fascinated AND freezing: a big ask!

The days of the trek were hot, hot; the day of R&R was tepid but today, as I set out for Muang Sing in an exposed-sided vehicle, it got colder and colder.

The road wound upwards beside a series of rivers and away from degraded forest deeper and deeper into the real thing. At its best, the untouched (literally virgin) forest has such texture and variety, including a range of colours, not just shades of green but all sorts of hues from many flowering trees - that the beauty is heart-aching if you consider it's doomed. Still, for now, it's amazing.

Arrival in Muang Sing, had I been in possession of a working circulatory system, would have been fascinating, particularly for the diversity of peoples living there, from the Akha, literally in the dirt, squatting round small log fires (a lot of that today) through many racial or tribal affiliations to the Chinese strutting around as if they ... well maybe they think they do. And such a range of buildings, styles, functions, faiths. The location is at one of those hidden crossroads of Asia, in this case where Burma, China and Laos come together and it had its historic role as one stop on the China Road. A place to visit in the warm, but not today. I turned round twice, had a quick, late breakfast and was on the next pick-up down the hill to Luang Nam Tha again - but not before I'd dug out some serious extra clothing. And then, pausing only to change some money, onto the next ordinary bus down to Udomxai. When I began that leg, I had every intention of following my itinerary, exploring various points in Northern Laos but it only seemed to get colder, though lower and a bit further south - and so if it's as cold tomorrow as it is today, it'll be the bus straight to Vientiane and then the next one out and south, south, south. Ironically, J left Vientiane this evening, heading for Hanoi, which - reportedly - is colder still. We might be meeting up earlier than expected.

Watch this space.

Meanwhille, England is having something of a heat-wave, or so I hear. Hmm!


Blogger Nigel said...

Frosts, fogs and crisp blue days with snowdrops and crocuses... Not so different from the lush greens of northern Laos, it sounds fantastic. I hope you recover quickly to explore further and tell us more of this less explored region. In the meantime I hope J is enjoying the more Cosmopolitan delights of the capital and onto Vietnam.


Wed Feb 13, 11:52:00 pm GMT  

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