Day 5: In a determined effort to beat the heat, we got up early today and were on our bikes and pedalling through the village just after 7am. A nice cool 27C start to the day which made cycling way easier – despite the pretty decrepit state of the bikes. We tried but failed to raise the height of the saddle on Jim’s bike, so he’s been pedalling around for days looking like he’s stolen a local kid’s bike.
Not long into the ride, we spotted a local market and pulled over to take a look. A fabulous array of local fruit and vegetables, plus fresh meat. We spotted lots of flies crawling over the surface of the meat – in Sydney we’d be horrified, but here’s it’s just the way things are.
From there we pedalled into Luang Prabang centre again, to explore some of the areas around and beyond it. We passed the interestingly named ‘In the Sack’ guesthouse and then spotted yet another local market – so stopped to take a look at that one too.
Again stacks of local fruit and vegetables, different kinds of rice, fresh Mekong fish, and lots of live chickens and ducks in cages (guessing there are no ‘RSPCA Approved’ birds here). We watched horrified as people picked out chickens then the guy behind the counter did the grisly deed (needless to day, we didn’t hang about for long)… That’s just how life travels here.
Next we dropped into the UXO Lao visitor centre – an information centre and exhibition highlighting the ongoing destruction and deaths caused by millions of unexploded bombs left from the Second Indochina War (1964 – 1975). More than 200 million tons of bombs were dropped on Lao, making it one of the most heavily bombed countries in the world. The work carried out by the Government’s National Unexploded Ordnance Programme (UXO) is phenomenal – both in terms of clearing bombs and educating towns and villages on the dangers – however around 20 years after the program was originally put in place, only around 5% of bombs have been cleared so far, so there’s still a very long way to go. A sobering experience indeed.
Before heading back home, we popped into a shopping centre to pick up some toiletries, and on the way out spotted some interesting ladies fashion in a clothes shop – gotta love the Simpsons get up. 🙂
Then home to read and nap, before heading out to dinner at a local village restaurant. Tonight’s meal was a superb Khao Soi (noodle soup with pork and vegetables and Lao curry sauce), Mekong fish and sticky rice.
Now back home and a massive storm has just started – we’re sitting watching spectacular lightning strikes across the Mekong while tropical rain crashes down. Quite a weather change!