03 january Pakbeng (LAOS) 102° days

[Stefy]: "After crossing the border by canoe, we stamp the passport, we begin our navigation on the legendary Mekong. It was exciting to see the unfolding of daily life in Laos along the river. Some women were washing clothes, somekids were having a bath, the cows were relaxed in the sun along the sandy coast, the verdant landscape often left to small villages built on stilts.
In the middle of the river often  gigantic rocks eroded by wind and water arose which gave a touch more natural at all.
We arrive at Pakbeng at about 18, after seven hours of sailing, but we are only halfway ... tomorrow we will have to take another boat to Luang Prabang. "

Pakbeng. A village in the middle of nowhere. Who owns  a little house has transformed it into a  very minimal guest house, who has a small space has turned it into a restaurant ... the others? They sell coca cola, chocolate, Oreos, Pringles, or prepare sandwiches for the  navigation! This is Pakbeng!

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04 january Luang Prabang (LAOS)

The big day has arrived for Stefy! This morning  Ilaria and Rosy have arrived here.  It was exciting hugging them again  after so long!

[Stefy]: "It will be nice to share a piece of our trip with them!"



"At first we caught sight of beauty from the impulse to seize and possess her to give it more space in our lives. It is as if we wanted desperately to say I was here, I saw all this."
- Alain De Botton -

 

05 january Luang Prabang (LAOS)

[Stefy]: “ We woke up at 5.30 to go and see the monks passing in single lines  along the main street of the city to supply rice."

The edges of the streets were crammed with people, with earthenware bowls full of rice in hand, patiently waiting for these little men in red tunic.

06 january Luang Prabang (LAOS)

We spend the entire day exploring the many temples of the city.
Sitting in the shade of a big tree in the courtyard of one of the many churches, for a moment I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what life was like in that remote place just a hundred years before ..
Suddenly images of kings and princes, elephants, servants, courtiers, heroic warriors, monks, sages, tigers etc.. appeared before my  dreamy eyes...

At Wat Sop we stop to chat with a young Buddhist monk who invites us to attend at their daily pray at 5 pm.
Here we are. At that hour, we sat in silence on the bottom of the pagoda to admire but also to listen to their hypnotic litany.
What a wonderful experience!

On the hill overlooking the city we find ourselves waiting for the sunset over the Mekong River, happy and satisfied after this exciting day!

08 january Phonsavan (LAOS)

At last  what we needed! The real Laos!

The transfer Luang Prabang - Phonsavan was quite difficult.
Seven hours of comfortable minivan ... too bad the roads ... all ascents, descents and turns. My poor stomach has been sorely tested.
Between a curve and the other we have the opportunity to admire the beautiful background of Laos.

Phonsavan, the provincial capital of Xiengkhuang in Pek District, is the only village we meet in seven hours by road.
This city is famous for its "Plain of Jars", huge stone vessels discovered in the '30s by French archaeologist and dated 2000 years ago ...
It can be considered as a Stonehenge Laotian seeing the many mysteries that revolve around these huge rocks!
Some people supposed to have been used to preserve human bodies, the ashes of dead people, some as receptacles to keep spirits ... Stefania destroys the poem  simply stating that they were "barrels" for the water!

It struck me the visit to a village of "Hmong", an ethnic minority of northern Laos, in those cases you really understand that in the world there are people different from you. Here they get married at 13, they give birth to ten children each ... the village, in fact, seemed to open a daycare!

This area is notorious for the so-called "crater area", an area riddled by American bombs ... yes ... during the war in Vietnam, with the excuse that important leaders of the Viet Cong were hiding in these areas, they were brutally bombed by U.S. aircraft . Entire villages were razed to the ground and unfortunately the consequences are still living today. Every year dozens of children or peasants jump, recklessly or by mistake on unexploded bombs ...

10 january Vang Vieng (LAOS)

Six hours by bus over rough roads and  curves in the most genuine Laos to reach this strange place surrounded by breathtaking vegetation.
Vang Vieng is a town split in two. On one side there are the old Laotians with their own traditions and cultures, the other the "farang" with modern guesthouses, Internet cafes and  pubs.

After admiring yet another spectacular sunset we decide to immerse ourselves in the life of Vang Vieng. At the same time many kids very drunk after a day of "tubing" that float within the tires of trucks on the river. You see them limping, no thongs, bleeding, bandaged, walking like zombies, and it seems that they do not even know how they came that far.

 
 

 

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