Luang Namtha – a base for trekking

After this adventurous bus ride we arrived around 4:30 pm at the Luang Namtha bus station which is about 10 km outside of town. So we boarded a tuktuk for the last bit. Elise (an Australian girl I met in the bus) didn’t have accommodation yet and I had booked a double room looking for someone to share – a classical win win situation. There is only one hostel with dorms in Luang Namtha, otherwise only double rooms and for one person alone rather expensive. I checked with Green Discovery if some more people had signed up for the 2 day jungle track. We were 7 now and thus the price was reduced to $57 per person. I went to the night market with Elise and Ben. That was rather disappointing. We decided to go somewhere else for food and ended up at Zuela. The food was good and my mango cinnamon shake was a dream!!! Since we had to get up early and also pack our stuff for the tour we went back to the Thoulasit Guesthouse. I had a really good sleep in my big comfortable bed. I got a chocolate croissant for breakfast and got some of the free tea in the hostel. We checked out and put our stuff in the luggage room and went to the Green Dicovery office. Our group consisted of our guide Air, Elise and me, Tim and Carole (both French), Hannah and Santiago (both English) and Emilie (Denmark). Not a single couple on this tour, really nice! We drove about 20 minutes with a van, everybody got 3 liters of water and off we went into the jungle. We walked about 14 km up to an elevation of 800 meters and down again in the humid jungle heat.

We had lunch about 11:30

and arrived in the village where we would spend the night at about 1:30 pm. There are 17 different ethnic groups just around Luang Namtha, all with different languages, clothes and traditions. We stayed in a Lantan Village. We rested a bit, had a swim/wash in the river,

walked around the village

and chilled until dinner.

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our dinner

Then we sat outside around the fire, IMG_8028 (FILEminimizer)drinking beer and Laolao (local whiskey) until we went to bed at about 9 pm. Since we went to bed so early, it was cold and not exactly comfortable I was awake super early. At 7 they sort of woke us up and I was the first one outside. Sitting around the fire with Air watching him barbecuing the frogs he had caught with some locals the evening before.

We had sticky rice and omelette for breakfast. We visited a death ceremony in the village.IMG_8049 (FILEminimizer)We felt a little bit like intruders so I didn´t dare taking pictures of the people and we were all rather happy when we left and went off into the jungle again. We walked about 14 km. It was a bit more adventurous though than the day before; more with climbing over fallen trees, crossing rivers and such.

We had lunch in the middle of the jungle on the floor and were allowed to try the grilled frogs. They taste quite nice, a bit like chicken.

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In the end we walked through rice fields, had to cross a river on shaky little boats and drove back to the city in the van for over an hour on horrible roads.

I shared again a room at Thoulasit Guesthouse with Elise. We had a shower and later we met with all the others except Emilie (she took an evening bus) for dinner. We went to the Zuela again. We moved to the Manychan Hostel for drinks. My Mojito was disgusting and had nothing to do with the real thing, I didn´t even get ice. I only drank half of it and left. Elise had to catch a bus early next morning. I stayed in bed a little longer. Went for breakfast to the Zuela, the food is really nice there! Then I moved to the Manychan Hostel. It is far from nice, but the only affordable accommodation for one person alone on a traveler budget.

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dangerous shower at the hostel – electricity and water

I worked a few hours on my blog. Then I walked around a bit

and visited the Wat Samakeeay.

Later I went to the Bamboo Lounge, enjoyed the happy hour and had a Karma Pizza.

The pizza there is really good and the staff super friendly. It is expensive though. But first it is worth it and second they only employ young people from the ethnic minority groups around Luang Namtha and teach them from scratch including the need of washing the hands before handling food and everything how to work in a restaurant with cooking and serving. They pay fair wages and also support local schools and stuff. So in a way it was dining for a good cause. I picked up my laundry from the Hill Tribe Discovery Laos Agency. Well, what should I say… Just don´t give your laundry to them! They took more than 30 hours (I had tried to pick it up earlier already, but it was not ready) and most of my stuff was still wet, partly dirtier than before and the whole laundry had a very funky smell to it. They also just stuffed it back into my laundry back, so everything was very crinkled. And it was not even cheap, it was 15000/kilo. Next morning I tried to get a yoga class, but I didn´t realize that you have to sign in for it in advance and wouldn´t find them. So I just had breakfast. After a while I saw Justyna and talked to her about the yoga. I made an appointment with her for the evening and the next morning. Then I rented bicycles together with Jonas (a German guy from the same hostel) and we did the Luang Namtha Valley Route. It was very hot and most of the way was on very bumpy dirt roads, but it was a nice way to see the countryside and people and something to do, even being active. We had to cross two bamboo bridges. Took a bit of bravery to cycle over those. We cycled for about four hours and visited two temples.

I had lunch at the Maniok, a really yummy rice soup with veggies. I worked on my blog until my laptop battery gave up again. It had been bad the last couple of days already but now it was hopeless again, like in Hawaii. Only difference now I knew more or less what to do to revive the battery. Didn´t have time to look into it though since it was time for my yoga class with Justyna. It was a really nice class, I enjoyed it. After securing my data while the laptop was plugged in, I had a shower and went to the Minority restaurant for dinner. There I bumbed into Jonas again and we had dinner together. We went to the Maniok after to have drinks with some other people. The next morning I had another yoga class, followed by breakfast and a shower before I checked out and took a tuktuk to the airport. The airport in Luang Namtha is tiny and so was my plane.

It was about one hour late but then I was off to Vientiane again in order to explore the south of Laos.

Trecking in Luang Namtha is beautiful! The town itself is a bit boring and there is not much to do. I wouldn´t recommend to stay there more than one rest day after trekking if at all. Especially since the only hostel is anything but nice and everything else is rather expensive.

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