Tuesday, March 1st (Luang Namtha to Pak Mong)

  • Pretty standard travel day for us.
  • We woke up without an alarm and were checked out and ready to go by mid-morning.
  • The driving was spectacular, though we already knew to expect this as we were simply backtracking along roads that we had already travelled.  (This was the reason for our failed attempt at an alternate route through Nam Ha National Park.)
  • The weather was beautiful and the roads were smooth, to say nothing of the scenery.
  • For lunch we stopped roughly halfway to Pak Mong at a town called Oudomxay (also Muang Xay).
  • The town doesn’t have much going for it culturally, but has been built up due to its geographical importance as a transportation hub for Burmese, Thai, and Chinese goods travelling North to South.
  • After some research we found a restaurant called Souphailin for lunch.  It was easily the most flavourful meal we’ve had in Laos.  The owner is a short tenacious woman with phenomenal culinary skills.  The atmosphere isn’t bad either.  We enjoyed our fresh springrolls, pineapple banana curry, and pad thai order on a cozy deck covered with plants and a window opening directly into the kitchen.
  • Seven hours and 200km later we arrived in Pak Mong, a quaint town at the intersection of two highways.
  • We checked in to the first guesthouse on our path (probably one of only 2 or 3 in the town) and spent the rest of the night trying unique Laos snack food at the many highway stands.  The coconut candy “popcorn” (for lack of a better description) was particularly good.
  • At one of the stands/restaurants, we were shocked to see a local woman come in carrying a dead leopard by the tail, ostensibly trying to sell it to the restaurant owner for its meat.  Just another example of the everyday occurrences in Southeast Asia that can catch you completely off guard.
  • We spent some time reading back at the guesthouse, then called it an early night for the day of travel to Luang Prabang tomorrow.
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