Monday at Luang Namtha was quite unproductive. There's really not much to do in the city.
I got up around 11 and had breakfast. That kept me busy until 13. After that I started the walk in order to find a trek.
The night was quite cold and it didn't get better until midday. At that time the sun showed its power. My shoes dried in a couple of hours! Same for my laundry which cost me £2 for 2.5kg.
After walking around I found a trek for two days with a night at a jungle camp. There were supposed to be two people on it already.
Happy with that I went for a massage to the same place I went a few days ago. Again, it wasn't very good but enough to relax. At £4 you can't complain too much.
I decided for dinner to go to the Banana restaurant this time. Had a Lao salad (the sauce was definitely European) and some fish curry. Both quite good. Followed by compulsory Beer Lao but it's not really pleasant to drink it when it's so cold!
For desert I found a stall at the night market that had fried bananas and coconuts. Really delicious! It was something like £1.20 and tasted great!
While packing for the trek at my guest house I watched the movie 'Island'. It was all in Lao but it didn't matter. One thing I've noticed was blurring the pistols held at someone's head. You could see it well when they take the gun out but the moment it gets close to a head it becomes blurred. Weird....
The morning started with a breakfast at Zuela. Again, it was good one and pretty fast.
When I arrived at the agency for the trek I was told that the two people cancelled but I could go for another one. The other tour didn't include a camp stay but a village one. I didn't really have a choice so went for it. As it occurred, there were 5 of us which took the price down to something like £34 each. Not a bad deal.
The rest of the team was an Israeli family - a just-married couple and the guy's parents.
After a trip to the market for the food we finally set off to our starting point.
It was still morning and freezing cold on the open tuk-tuk.
After about an hour we've arrived and started the trek.
It was soon obvious that the older couple couldn't keep up with the pace.
We went slowly through really dense forrest. I was at the front with the local guide who spoke no English but he seemed to appreciate me keeping up with him. On the way, he gave me a few things to eat;
1. A green staff looking like gooseberry that he found on the ground. It was more sour that the whole lemon!
2. A partially dried lychee
3. A part of rattan (used for making furniture) that was really delicious. Unfortunately, the whole tree had to he for a small piece.
4. A freshly off-the-tree papaya (which I thought was a mango) which was so delicious that I ate 3/4 of it strait away!
While eating the papaya the rest of the group caught up and we had lunch. Sticky rice with extras. I decided to go Lao style and asked for some chilli (you just eat it...) but the only thing they found around was some fresh red pepper. It has some kick and tasted great. Especially being taken off the bush seconds before you eat it!
After lunch the local guy came back to his village but left me with a freshly made rattan walking stick. It later on served its purpose.
The rest of the trek went rather uneventful. The young guy had a leech and I could see it didn't make him feel well. I think I managed to convince him to just stop worrying and leave it alone.
We got to the village after 17. The first thing I did was to find a stream and cool my feet off. What a great feeling!
We had our dinner and went to sleep. We didn't carry sleeping bags (not all of us) so had to rely on the blankets provided. As it occurred, it was quite cold at night and I didn't really sleep all the time. Maybe it was also caused by the weird, random and really loud snoring from the guy sleeping next to me....
We got up just after 7 in the morning. Quick Lao breakfast and we had to decide what we do. The guide told us they the second day will be hard and may take 7-8 hours. I was up for it but the rest I the group decided to take the short and easy route.
While the rest went to explore the village I set off with a local guide who spoke no word English.
The trek did occur to be tough. The first 4 hours was mainly uphill on a barely visible and slippery path. The guide offered to carry my heavy bag but gave it back after 20 minutes. It was a hard work and at times i felt unsure about completing it. The path was very often through extremely dense vegetation and you could hardly see where you were going. We had lunch after about 3 hours. After the next hour we got to the Lantan village. From there the trek became easier and really enjoyable.
We had to cross the river 3 times and each time it was such a pleasure to cool the feet off!
Than came the first 'bridge'. It was just two bamboo planks with a third one higher to hold on, laid across the river. With much fear and hesitation I managed it. Just about....
After another few hours we finally came to the village and had one last bridge to cross. It was high! It took me a while to take on that there is no other way. It took me a few good minutes to cross it. Some locals were laughing a bit when they saw me but I didn't care.
Finally we got to our final point!
We had to wait for the tuk-tuk with the rest of the team. Apparently we were quite fast (5.5 hours walk) and managed to squeeze two cold beer Lao! We waited for about an hour and they arrived. I was proud of myself knowing that it took me less time to complete the longer and harder route that the other guys! But my legs are a bit site now.
That's why I decided to go to Luang Prabang tomorrow. Rather than waste time here I'll get to a really nice town instead. The bus is at 8am tomorrow.
I'm supposed to go for a herbal sauna and massage tonight with the guide. Will write about it more when it happens.