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  • hardie karges 12:13 pm on October 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Laos, Luang Namtha, Phongsaly, , Udom Xai, Vietnam   

    Phongsaly, Laos: at the end of a long lonely road… 

    20181006_061252It may or may not be the ‘end of the earth’, but it definitely qualifies as the outback of Southeast Asia, for whatever that’s worth, probably not much, so long as China keeps encroaching, as it surely will, not so long ago Vietnam probably the greater transgressor, with its oversized population, locked into such a narrow sliver of prime southeast Asian coastline, and punctuated by rivers, this the only country in the world, that I know of, that is self-defined by its water, i.e. ‘nuoc Vietnam‘, Viet-water, as opposed to Thai-land, Ire-land, Green-land, or Switzer-land, for example (if you’re familiar with Vietnamese fish-sauce, nuoc mam, then you might recognize that same word nuoc)…

    But that’s Vietnam, and this is Laos, though you might not know it at the crossroads town of Udom Xai, a town of literally no more than a few tens of thousands, but with buses heading to all the four corners, i.e. China, Vietnam, and Thailand, every neighboring state except Burma, aka Myanmar, and locals can even go from Phongsaly to Luang Namtha, one part of Laos to another, via China, would that this option were only open to foreigners, and you might have a resuscitation of the backpacker market in this region… (More …)

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  • hardie karges 11:51 pm on June 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Laos, , , ,   

    Baby, you can drive my tuk-tuk… 

    Homemade tuk-tuk in Phichit, Thailand

    Homemade tuk-tuk in Phichit, Thailand

    Three-wheeled ‘tuk-tuks’ are more than a mode of transportation in SE Asia. They’re part of the culture. Most often found in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, not only do they provide cheap and reliable transportation–usually–but they also tend to liven up the urban landscape a bit. They are more flexible than auto taxis yet more stable than the motorcycle ones (NEVER!). More than that, sometimes they can even approach the level of an indigenous folk art, not unlike motorcycle choppers in the US and elsewhere. Now if only we could get them to charge uniformly reasonable fares. Maybe it’s time to install meters? They have them on tuk-tuks in India BTW… (Then there are tuk-tuks that are total pimp-mobiles, taking any and all ad money from the highest bidders, like those in Phitsanulok, Thailand)

     
  • hardie karges 2:06 pm on June 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Laos, , taxi, , ,   

    Escape from #Laos, Stuck in #Thailand… 

    Travel by tuk-tuk in Asia

    Travel by tuk-tuk in Asia

    Our trip’s taken a bit of an ugly turn, what with increasing hassles with transport, taxis and tuk-tuks (see previous post). Call me a whiny backpacker if you want, but it’s bad enough that we’ve already dropped Savannakhet from the itinerary—just to mitigate those extra hassles—and I’m double-checking future hotel bookings to see if the locations are walkable from the bus stations. It’s more than can be explained away by the $5/gallon petrol cost, too, so taints the entire perception of the country.

    Let’s put it this way: taxis here like to charge by the passenger—even on a private run. That’s BS. That’s not communism (Laos is a Communist country); that’s retail, dahling. Being a backpacker (wearing a backpack, that is) was always as much about avoiding high-price city taxis as seeking countryside trails, after all. Just for the record, I do not wear my backpack fully square on both shoulders, but rather slung off one side with a flair for fashion.  But the current problems run deeper.

    (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 3:01 pm on June 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, my – so exhausting to even read about the hassle of your trip.

  • hardie karges 12:40 pm on May 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Laos, , ,   

    #Takhaek #Laos: Lazy River, Sleepy City 

    Takhek, Laos PDR: Sleepy City

    Takhek, Laos PDR: Sleepy City

     

    It’s a long way—and a tough road—from Xam Neua, near the Vietnamese border, to Phonsavan, Xieng Khoang, on the Plain of Jars, to Takhek on the Mekong River rim, even with an overnight break, down down down through bush and brush, savannah and chaparral, zigs and zags, at times the road degenerating into nothingness, but still much better than previous, with reports of deplorability, like that road back in Bokeo, back there back then, 1997 or so I believe, in the back of a truck, sending me airborne at the slightest drop of an overloaded wheel into mire and muck, at times having to drag the whole darn thing through football fields of impossibility… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 11:22 pm on May 22, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Laos, Sam Neua   

    #XamNeua #Laos: Houses without Windows, Homes with Looms 

    Sam Neua sunrise

    Sam Neua sunrise

    The road winds mountainous and cliff-hanging, serpentine and riverine, casuarina and date palms, causality and circumstance, borderline tropical crossing the twentieth parallel on the road to Hanoi, multiple shades of green featuring an insect symphony soundtrack, measuring the kilometrage in butt bumps, every other house with a loom warped and ready, part of every woman’s day as surely as the family motorcycle’s maintenance is a part of every man’s, wood-axe at the ready to secure firewood, timber and lumber, preempting the Chinese invasion of the forests as a source of fiber in the diet for consumption…

    (More …)

     
    • Esther Fabbricante 2:03 am on May 23, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I am still having computer problems and was unable to read your complete post. I hope I can catch up soon.
      Exciting happenings here with family – graduations, luncheons, visits, parties, you name it.

  • hardie karges 1:33 pm on May 14, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Laos, , Xieng Khoang   

    #XiengKhoang #Laos: Plain of Jars… and Bomb Craters 

    Temple at old Xieng Khoang (Meuang Khoun), Laos

    Temple at old Xieng Khoang (Meuang Khoun), Laos

    Phonsavan is something like the Laotian wild west, born from the ashes of the Vietnam (American) War, the Indochinese (French) War and (Chinese and Japanese) WWII, long before the wars of WWW (dot.com). This town is brand new, replacing the ‘real’ (old) Xieng Khoang, down the road a bit, forty klicks and forty years away, bombed to Hell and back by Americans with more bombs than brains, sons of guns and possessed of riches, dogs of war and sons of… capitalists… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 12:40 pm on May 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Laos, Luang Prabang   

    #LuangPrabang #Laos: Land of a Thousand Temples 

    Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

    Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos

     

    No, really, Luang Prabang has something like thirty-two temples, down from a number over twice that much at its high point in the 1800’s, plenty I reckon considering the city only has some 20-50,000 residents in the first place, on a good day, in the busy season, depending on how you count, but not counting the many tourists who swell numbers significantly, many of them neighboring Thais and Vietnamese, and more than a few backpackers who call the place home for a few days or a few weeks, or even a few months, subject to a sliding scale of definitions, returns and allowances… (More …)

     
    • EstherFabbricante 1:46 pm on May 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Your latest post is so interesting and well written – when do you sleep? I tried to send you a post at the end of this, but it wouldn’t go through, so I sent it to myself and will forward it to you later.   Esther

  • hardie karges 10:28 am on May 6, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Laos, Vientiane   

    #Vientiane #Laos PDR (Please Don’t Rush) 

    Sllepy Sunday in Vientiane

    Sleepy Sunday in Vientiane

    If Laos is a ramshackle village, then Viangchan (Vientiane) is its ramshackle capital. Only problem is that it ain’t so ramshackle any more. First the backpackers discovered it, then the developers moved in. There goes the neighborhood. Too bad backpackers don’t get stipends from their development initiatives and their ballsy forays into the mystic, to make up for the general derision with which they are treated in the countries they’ve helped bring into the golden age of mass tourism, like Thailand across the river, awash in tourism and prostitution and consumerist friendsy…

    (More …)

     
    • Traveling Ted 3:20 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Interesting to see how travel destinations change over a period of time. I hope to make it to Laos for the first time like Elizabeth.

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