We thought we could make it all the way to Phongsali in one day, but after learning the bus schedules, we realized we’d need to spend one night in another town on the way there. It was just as well, because the next day to Phongsali we were on this ancient bus for nine and a half hours! If someone drove themselves and didn’t stop much, they could make it in around five hours, but that was not the case for us on this beater! Maybe the dining room set on the roof affected the aerodynamics.
It was actually nice not knowing ahead of time how long the journey would end up being. Better finding out after there’s no turning back. And, the kids actually did great. I think I was possibly getting more stir crazy than they were for the last couple of hours. We stopped often, though, giving me plenty of opportunity to stretch my legs and for everyone to use the bathroom. Along the way we picked up passengers and their live animals, and dropped them off again.
We arrived in Phongsali just before dusk, checked in to our less than awesome guesthouse (more on that later), found some dinner and went to bed. We spent the next morning walking around this quaint mountain town. It is honestly one of the most fascinating places we’ve ever visited. We ran into this beautiful Akha woman selling eggplants as well as a few handicrafts. She wasn’t putting on a show with her traditional clothing, as there are hardly any tourists there. This is just the way she dresses. We wandered the old cobblestone streets that were put in by the French back when Laos was a colony.The houses were a mix of old painted wooden houses, French colonial houses (this was actually the French military leader’s house), and Chinese houses. I could’ve taken pictures for days, but still feel like the pictures just don’t do the town justice. It is so culturally, historically and visually rich. You’ll just have to go see it for yourself. Chicken flew the coop. On our self-tour we came across a group of ladies sorting through their tea leaves. Phongsali is famous for its tea trees, some of which are said to be from 400-1000 years old! There was tea out drying on bamboo mats and baskets all over town.
We stopped by the little fresh market and drew a crowd of friendly ladies eager to share their snacks with the girls. They had a lot of questions as well. The most common questions we are asked about our girls is are they ours and are they twins. Yes and no.In the evening, Ryan’s friend he had met on his previous trip took us to the top of the mountain which overlooks the town. It was quite the wild ride getting up there!But completely worth it. The views were stunning. Then we finished the day with a Lao barbecue dinner, complete with “pork breast.” I wasn’t entirely thrilled about our friend’s choice of menu, but actually when it’s grilled to a crisp, and smothered in the restaurant’s secret sauce, it isn’t half bad!
What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited? Would you be up for eating some pork breast?
part 2 touring Northern Laos: Phongsali