We made it!
Sayo River Guest House, Luang Prabang
Another hurdle was crossed today by the the three-wheeled trio for Jo, TT and I are now in Luang Prabang, in three whole pieces. We packed up Ting Tong in blistering heat this morning and at 10 a.m hit Route 13 north. Jo bravely tackled the daunting slope out of our guest house - whilst I filmed her from a safe distance - and off we went.
The road from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang is, as we have mentioned before, notorious for a number of reasons. Namely hairpin bends, armed bandits and landslides. The public bus takes 8 hours to climb the 230 km's to Luang Prabang, so we banked on taking about the same time. TT may be supersonic but we weren't quite sure how she'd handle them there mountains. Spiffingly is the answer.
The fear of something is so often worse than the actual reality, and today was a perfect example. After all that we had been told Jo and I really had no idea what to expect, and set off this morning feeling very unsure of whether we would make it here or not. The road was indeed incredibly windy and steep and as we rounded each bend yet another alarming incline appeared ahead of us. For three hours we climbed and climbed, until stopping in a random town for coke and foe (noodle soup with many unidentifiable things lurking in its depths). We had read that the road after this was particularly dangerous and a favourite haunt of Hmong rebels. So I took over the driving, put my foot down and headed further into the mountains.
All the way here I was struck by the fact that this was Laos' main road, the superhighway linking Laos, Thailand and China. Yet all along its route are tiny hill tribe villages, populated by scruffy children, piglets, goats, chickens, wandering water buffalo, cows and bent old women. As we tukked through each settlement gangs of children screeched in delight at the site of the peculiar pink vision wizzing past, and livestock scattered from the road. However, I am now convinced that the average age in Laos is about 5 years old as the number of tiny children far outnumbered adults. Where have all the oldies gone? Maybe they were all watching TV....many of the rickety bamboo huts sported vast, incongruous satellite dishes.
So at 5.30 pm, we made it to Luang Prabang. Phew. No rebels, no mudslides and no toppling off the edge of the mountain. We did see several people wandering along with rifles slung their backs though, and some bored policeman decided to pull us over simply to see who we were.
Tomorrow we've got a day off, yes another one, and then we head for China on Friday. Strange to think we are so nearly through our second country. Poor Jo is missing her ferrets terribly and shed a few ferrety tears last night.
That's it for now....