This photo-blog is designed to work either as a standard blog with images or - by clicking any image - a photo-album. To see an image in full resolution in the 2006 journey, click to the left or right of an image in blog mode.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Scoffing Beetles, Rats and Baby Birds

Boarding the bus in Luang Nam Tha

2nd Oct 2006 Last night we decided that it would be much easier to go straight through to Luang Prabang rather than split the trip into two four to five hour chunks because Udomxai the half-way point is such an uninteresting truck stop town for Chinese workers and the bus station is a long way from town, making it difficult to move our luggqage and get an onward ticket.

So we got up at dawn and Christine persuaded me to go straight across to the bus station by the hotel and we got two tickets on the 8.30 bus to Luang Prabang, the ancient royal capital of Laos. This was great as we got two seats near the front. For the first part of the trip the road was great and things moved forward, but at the first small town the main road suddenly became a barely maintained narrow strip with huge monsoon potholes every hundred yards so the bus proceeded at a crawl.

The Akha woman above chased me unrelentingly to buy her glass bead bracelets

If the shattered drivers window was any indication the bus was in the process of early retirement. Another worrying sign was that the bus crew of four kept letting of fire crackers in the bus to hoots of laughter.

Then the brakes failed and we had to spend four or five sessions of up to an hour standing by the roadside while they tried to fix a leak in the brake pipes. Although this made the trip interminable, it was more than worthwhile because the road through Laos is a series of forested passes - up to the fog level and down again through rattan villages all the way.

Brakes leaking - breakdown number 1

Fluid gone again - breakdown number 2

The village where we stopped for the second breakdown

Hill country en route

Finally when they should have reached Luang Prabang, they pulled over for an unspecified time to eat dinner, and then when we had been sitting about an hour proceeded to fix the brakes all over again, this time finally getting the leak plugged. The cuisine was kind of interesting though. They had fried rats, frogs, toasted male and female rhinoceros beetles and caterpillars like small huhu grubs, as well as chickens feet and lots of other indescribable items - all well cooked!

Breakdown number 3 - an attempt at a final fix

Now this is a right scrumptious mix of protein foodstuffs ...

... including fried rats and rhinoceros beetles ...

... and huhu or tequila-like larvae grubs ...

... and more beetles and fish ...

... and here I believe we have fried baby birds ...

... and of course chicken's feet and is this bird for the table too?


"China Foods and Guest House".

The Laotians fear the influx of Chinese business will swamp their fragile economy and leave them subject citizens to the great Tiger of the North.

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