Friday, Feb. 19th (Sam Neua to Vieng Thong [Muang Hiam])

  • We both woke up early, though significantly worse for wear after the previous night’s escalation.
  • Two of the friend group from the night before came by to check on us, which was a kind gesture.  Their parting words were, “good luck.”
  • Two cups of instant coffee, a shower, and some serious room cleaning later and we were on our motorbikes ready for the 150km journey to Vieng Thong. 
  • Vieng Thong’s original name was Muang Hiam, which translates to “watch out” from the Tai Daeng language, a throwback to the days when tigers were the dominant force in the countryside.
  • We thought we had seen jungle in Vietnam, but nothing is quite like the jungle in Laos.  
  • The greens are just as green, but the diversity of plants is immediately apparent.  Exotic flowers with deep hues of red, orange, violet, and white dot the roadside, providing a welcome relief from the endless shades of green.  Dirt sideroads vary from light orange to blood red and sheer rock faces are sometimes a bizarre shade of purple.
  • The roads are different too: hills are steeper, corners are tighter, and potholes and gravel are more frequent.
  • Even the people and villages have a different feel, easily detectable within the 30 seconds it takes to pass them by.  
  • Everything feels authentically wild and untouched.  Perhaps an effect of having spent so long (nearly 3 months) in Vietnam, but fascinating nonetheless.
  • We arrived in Vieng Thong re-energized by the amazing drive and  checked in to a simple guesthouse at the main intersection.  It had a nice room with high ceilings, two big beds, and free instant coffee in the morning.
  • We found another impressive establishment (considering the tiny size of the town) for dinner and had a delicious vegetable stir fry.
  • Returned to our room with some dessert snacks and spent some time reading before calling it an early night.
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