After the jungle adventure we settled in for one more night in town; booked ourselves a private minibus to exit the morning after; enjoyed dinner with our fellow trekkers - and crashed.
We were very fortunate to have booked the bus with a charming and enthusiastic Lao man, Lat who was happy to come with us for the day as an informal guide (an opportunity to visit family). His brother Lot was the safest Asian driver in existence. We stopped at markets where we tried a heap of previously unseen produce - nuts, sweet tubers, raw bamboo shoots and a disgustingly sour 'fruit'. The ladies loved the kids!
This mean looking rodent is a bamboo rat - worth a lot of cash.
Do you like your rats fresh?
We lunched in a Lao restaurant in Oudomxai enroute, visited an OK waterfall, met their spritely 85 year old grandmother (damned old for a Lao!) and Lat fed us great insights into both Lao culture and of the Chinese and their current influence. (More about that in the blog titled Laos).
We chose Nong Khiaw because it's described as quiet country, and our push into the remote regions has again proven the right choice. The people here smile and say hello. There's space for the kids to run. The village is surrounded by dramatic limestone karsts and is set on wide sleepy Nam Ou river.
Rosie's knee is still sore, so we've rented bikes for a couple of days. Yesterday was a cruising around sort of day checking out the village mostly, with washing, showers and kiddie homeschool thrown in.
Today was another trip to the markets by dad for breakfast goodies (spied portions of a once-huge python for sale in the early light), then a bike trip to Tham Pha Tok caves, where the locals sheltered from US bombing.
It was downhillish getting there, so inevitably there was a race up the slopes on the way back (boys on one bike, girls on the other). Tough going with a child on the back.
Given that Rosie would always complain at the slightest hint of pepper on her eggs-on-toast at home, we had to comment on just how much they drooled over their Indian lunch today. Sensational!
Shane, Helen, Rosie and Tom