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July 26, Luang Nam Tha, Laos, Kayaking Adventure

LAOS | Saturday, 26 July 2008 | Views [819] | Comments [3]

So if you read yesterday’s story you might remember how when Angy had to go to the bathroom the second time I “made” her go to the bathroom alone.  Well it was about four in the morning and it was already getting light outside.  Also she was just walking down the stairs from the house and was peeing about 5 feet from the bottom of the steps.  Just remember that for later.

So I think that we finally got up around 7am and walked out to see what was going on.  Yoi was already almost done cooking our breakfast so it was good timing for us to wake up.  We walked into the kitchen shack to see what was going on.

The first thing that I noticed was that there were pieces of beef hanging above the fire that Yoi had skewered and left there overnight.  That kind of grossed us out because we knew that he was going to serve that to us for lunch.  All I could think of was that as the heat and smoke from the fire started to dwindle last night the bugs came and had a taste of there own.  So who knew what kind of interesting things that dried beef could be harboring.

We had a good breakfast and all I can remember was that there was rice.  But I do remember that it was good.  He also told me that the father/grandfather wanted us to take a family picture for him.  Of course I was more than happy to oblige.  The difference of what something like that means to me and what it means to him is so different.  I can only imagine.

Even though the people that live in this village have access to a road that can lead into the town center, they s still don’t really have electricity.  They make most of there tools, baskets and other household and farming instruments by hand and mostly what nature has provided to them.  Such is the same with the houses that they live and work in.  They even make there own knives and sickles.  Angy and I witnessed a primitive type of bellows used to heat up and melt metal so that they can temper and mold it into what they want.

Yes, so as I was saying, I took an individual picture of the father.  He had put on his best pants and best collared shirt (a local beer shirt) and I took a few photos of him in front of a fruit tree that I think that he was proud of.  I then try to ask if he wanted me to take photos of anyone else.  He then motioned to who I believed to be his wife.  They started talking to each other then she grabbed a couple kids, removed her scarf and stood in front of the same tree as her husband.

They were all very happy with the pictures, and the kids of course were enthralled with seeing themselves on the camera screen after I took the pictures of them.  It is fun to see them enjoying themselves so much.  At the same time I feel kind of bad.  It’s like I shouldn’t be there.  What must we look like with nice clothes, bags, and gadgets?  I feel like an intruder.

After the photo session we got all of our clothes and gear packed into the dry bags and started our walk down to the riverside.  According to the itinerary that we had seen of our trip before we left today is supposed to include 5 hours of kayaking.  But of course the river is really fast, so I think that Yoi will delay us a few times so that we don’t make it to the end too soon.

It was another day of fun kayaking, the rapids that we saw were not as big as the one’s that we encountered yesterday, I think there more overall today.  I definitely enjoy kayaking and I am pretty sure that Angy likes it even more than I do.  Sometimes I have to tell her to stop paddling because we will pass our guide.  She’s just a paddling machine.

Before we reached our pickup point we stopped along the river to have the lunch he prepared for us before we left the village.  We have been a little worried about this.  It has been all prepared, wrapped up in bananas leaves and then kept in a plastic grocery bag.  The two things that worries us is that the water from the river might have gotten inside the bag, and also it’s a clear bag and it’s a little moist inside so the sun is baking down on it.  Almost sounds like a petri dish culture to me.

So I dining location was kind of fun.  We pulled alongside the river were it had been flooded over a few days before, so all the reeds and tall grass were flat against the ground for the perfect picnic spot.  We carried over our water and Yoi carried over the food.  He then walked back to the boat and then off into the woods.  We just assumed that he going to the bathroom, but after like 10 minutes we were getting a little curious.  He finally came back, and with him he had three or four big banana leaves that we were going to use as our plates/tablecloth.

The food was pretty good.  There was plenty of rice, the dried beef, and assorted greens with the usual chili paste.  Both Angy got the guts up to eat the suspicious beef.  It was actually quite good.  I must say that it is some of the better beef jerky that I have had.  He hasn’t served us a bad meal yet, they have all exceeded our expectations.  Especially after seeing what he has had to work with.

After we just sat around for a while and soaked in the beautiful scenery since we had some time to burn.  Yoi told us that we were only five to ten minutes away from where the trip ends.  We were a little disappointed about that.  I then decided to ask if he could video tape us kayaking the last bit.  He seemed to be ok with it.  I showed him how to use the camera and also told him that it was ok if it got wet since it is waterproof.

He actually did a decent job seeing as most of the time he couldn’t paddle.  All he could do was stick one end of the paddle in the water to steer his boat left or right.  But when he went through the rapids he had to put it down.  It was a good time to be had for all of us.  We unfortunately made it to the end of our trip and carried the gear and kayaks up to our taxi.  Not really a taxi, just a pickup truck with bench seats with a cover in the bed of the truck,

It was a long, bumpy, rainy and cold ride back.  Once we arrived at the headquarters where we left our bags, Yoi looked across the street and mentioned that the photo developing place was closed.  In case we didn’t mention it, we are going to develop some of the picture that we had taken of the family.  So we just got the address of the headquarters and Yoi’s email address and told him we would send them to him from Thailand.

Now we are off to the Boat Landing Guesthouse, the nicest accommodation in all of Luang Nam Tha.  Quite a statement, huh?  It costs a whopping $35 a night to stay at this fancy place.  If you can remember back this far it is the place that Bill Tuffin is an owner of (We met him in Siem Reap, Cambodia).  We arrived and got our room.  It is pretty nice considering most of the places that we have been staying in.

W had a nice long, clean, and hot shower.  We were covered in layers, of dirt, grime, sun block, bug repellent, more dirt, sun block, grime, and more bug repellent.  Then we thought that it would be nice to have a glass of red wine on the porch of our cabin that overlooks the river after our action packed two days.

Angy finished getting ready at the room and I got the bottle of wine, they only had one kind and it was a Laos wine.  I got back to the room and Angy poured a little into the glass and said that it wasn’t right.  So I smelled it and tried some and I must agree that this is not how wine is supposed to taste or smell.

I brought it back and had to interrupt the workers meal so that I could speak with the manager.  She came out and smelled and tasted the wine, she of course said to me that is how it is supposed to taste.  I told her that it was not right.  She just reiterated and said that was how it is.  So I thought I would give it another shot.  Of course when Angy found out that it was the same bottle she got all crazy and grabbed the bottle and went to back up to the restaurant.

She came back and lo and behold, more Laos red wine.  Apparently the lady opened up another bottle for Angy and it of course was the same.  We are pretty sure it has to do with the storage conditions.  I don’t think red wine is supposed to be stored out in 80-90+ degree weather.  Call me crazy.  We gave up and drank the icky wine.

We then headed off to have dinner.  It was very good, it was another traditional Laos meal.  But this time there was WAY too much food.  I don’t think that we finished half of it.  The only consolation of this was that we saw one of the waiters go back and eat some of it.  Otherwise it would have been a huge waste.

That’s all, just a little nap until tomorrow’s crazy day.



Hi Guys:
Sounds like this has been a great trip for you two. I'd like to know how you will ever be able to settle down to the civilized world again???
Definitely has been a trip of a lifetime. We hear you will be coming back soon. Hope you have a safe trip back and Angela, I think that pillow ought to go to the dry cleaners. God knows what you might bring back in it. You two have really done a marvelous job on your blog and pictures. I really think you have something worth printing up here. Honestly.
Much love and take care.

  "California Mom" Aug 3, 2008 6:01 AM


Nice to read your story!
You mention Bill Tuffin. I've met him at the boatlanding guesthouse 2 years ago. I came back to teach English in Ban kon Kham, the little village. Now I'm surching for Bill's email adress to contact him. Can you help me?

Thanks a lot!

  Esther Dec 1, 2008 10:41 PM


Esther you can email me at [email protected]

  bill Dec 9, 2008 7:15 PM

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