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Published: July 19th 2006
Trekking seemed like an appealing idea, but I guess I'm becoming reclusive so I didnt go. I just really didnt like the look of the other people going. Its an opportunity that I may live to regret, but I doubt it. I hate being guided on treks. For me walking is about independance, and unless they have a lot of interesting things to say the guides just annoy me. In a strange way I just like moving around up here. I dont feel the need to stop in a place to 'do' things, as the journeys are so beautiful that they are an activity in themselves. And I can turn up my MP3 player, and not talk to anyone if I dont want to. Slightly harder on a guided trek I feel!
I decide to catch a bus to Udomxai, and get there very early. My reward is a prime seat - as much legroom as is possible on an asian bus, a window that opens and a comfyish seat. The bus fills, then overfills, then finally leaves. And then stops to overfill some more. The some more. At the most there were 38 people on the bus. And it
had 21 seats. About 5 minutes into the jounrey the girl sitting behind me started throwing up, as only Lao people know, and didnt stop until we reached Udomxai hours later. I was genuinely concerned that her head would be cut clean off my a passing lorry, tree or buffalo, but thankfully this was not to happen.
We had been driving for a few hours before the first major obstruction to our journey. A landslide. There had been lots of fallen rocks, but now we had hit a point where an entire mud bank was crossing the road. And a car was stuck in it. Attempts to free it were hilarious in their incompetence, and they were just managing to dig it in further. Eventually it was manhandled out, and our superb bus driver managed to get across problem free, by simply not choosing such a stupid route through the mud.
More stunning scenery passed for a few hours before I arrived at Udom Xia, my stop for the night. I found a place to rest my head and set out to explore the town. The main street is not too nice - just a lot of guesthouses.
However behind this it has a lot more charm. Smaller streets and a quant - but quagmirous (new word?) market actually made for quite a nice overall impression of the town. And I was delighted to see the return of street food vendors.
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