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Published: February 3rd 2013
One again step on the Phonsali road, this incredible 150km journey would took so long. I remember the bus started out at 8：30 and unloaded me in Phonsali at 9pm 5 year ago. but I didn't plan to make it up to Phonsali this time, Bountai was my destination, about 80km less from the whole journey！we rolled out of the Udomxay station at the same departure time as before...nothing would change in Laos unless it is really necessary I guess（except of course....the price！）. packed as usual, this is the one per day transpotation run between this two place, no doubt it play a very important role for the local there. so it must stop for many times before it could clear out of the town area...picking up boxes from one shop and collected parcels from another family, many times urgent documents would ship in by chasing motorbike, anyway...no departure would completed without visiting the gas station one！The smooth ride ended right after the Paknamnoy lunch break, the dusty road began！and here is the area one could see the Loma people, their costume are full of embroidery, similar to the Lahu or the Simoluo Hani in Yunnan. here they rolled up a
pointy headgear with long colourful headband decorated with jewellery. large silver neck-ring, feather earring, thick bracelet, legging....why I hadn't notice this people 5 years ago？there are at least 2 Loma villages right after drove up on this dusty road. perhaps I wasn't seat by the window last time！Scaling up the mountain road and our bus suddenly stop at a tiny Ahka village, a kid holding up a bouncing animal against our driver's window, number were cross between the driver and the kid. very quick...a figure had been agreed, the kid got away with 2 bills（seem like a 50 and a 20 I wasn't so sure）, and our driver got a pinkish fresh bouncing meat the size of a rabbit, no idea what it was, but many passenger already discuss betwern themselve....some had their thumb up, comments about whatever, should be about which way to cook....what kind of sauce to go with....or perhaps....how powerful will become after digest the animal！at least...judging from the look of their face and how far the spit powder got away from their mouth...I guess I wouldn't get too far off！Rolling on the road became muddy...seem like there had been rain recently, less dust but it made
the bus work it way up more difficult and our driver need to wired the wheel with chains. Finally...the expected happen after 5 hours from the bus station...we were stopped by a truck that was being strand in the mud. Just like by programming...passenger off the bus armed with their plastic bags of food...“bai ginkao” they all said and squat at whatever space they could find along the hillside and eat away！how amazing about these people....they are so rich in time！Luckily it was only about an hour then the traffic move again. up through the cloud we were out in a clear sky with sun shine...lovely...and I finally got off the bus in Bountai at 4pm. I said farewell to the others travelers on the bus, hope they wouldn't break my 9pm record as...they still face almost 90km up ahead on the road！Bountai...here I come. I was planning to spend 4, 5 day there to see if they got a weekend market, but I ended up departed after 2 days...with pleasure！why？I just followed my instinct. the unwelcoming sensation hit me right on. I walked into the first guesthouse...the Zhong Lao bingguan - China Laos Hotel！instantly I remembered the sign I
saw in Muangsing, the translated it into “into old”, what a laugh...very indian style！back to the hotel, with brothel style room infested with Chinese immigrant's look figures. “we have many different price of room....50000, 60000, 80000...” with a cold face. I retreat politely. The second guesthouse had a better standard but with owner with the same cold face, all he want was sell me the VIP room. “with TV” he emphasized, added “hot water very strong”！He wasn't really happy that I only took the cheapest 60000 room with cold shower, together with the unchanged bed sheet gave out odour from the last sleep-in！There are only 4 guesthouses in town. I switched to another cheaper room with hot water but same....with cold face owner！wondered why....was it the chatacter here？ As it also happen in tourist office. “where are you going？” hard and cold like a knife striked on my face. whatever questions I asked, the answer was “we have a 4 days trekking program”, pointing at the fading map, said I cannotgo there by myself. “you buy ticket here” every of my question would ended with this answer. I guessed I had the wrong concept of tourist information as the Laos
people, here...tourist office is travel agent, same like in China. But after a day wandering I find the local resident are rather nice with smiling sabaidee. there also sometimes Ahka woman show up. Although I enjoy it here especailly the chanting lesson given by an old man to young monk in the temple at morning time. but the unwelcoming feeling prevailed everytimes I out looking for foods in the market, beside....they said there was no specail market here ！and the heavy rain in the first night turn every trails muddy, made this not much to do town less thing to offer. “what about landslide and blocked my return journey？” I asked myself. so I decided to back down the Phonsali road looking for other entry before wrapping up my Laos holiday.
I stopped 30km before Udomxay in Muangla. a tiny village sandwiched by the main and a river. famous for the Singkham Temple, said to be one of the 3 sacred temple in Laos, rich pilgrims from far away came to give offers and ask for wisdom. the other 2 are in Luang Prabang and Pakbeng. there also a nice resort set by the river for private tourist. Muangla on
the other hand presented great welcome to me with smiling face, I wouldn't mind to hangout for a day or two, beside....my back pain come haunted me again and actually it was rain the next day. great excuse to lay back on the hammock and do nothing.
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