Feb 3, 2007

More from between the trips

Vientiane / Kunming

I was down trying to refind my way to the Northern Bus Station in Vientiane and while looking around found this bus getting fixed at a garage. Takes three days, costs 380 renminbe or 513,000 kip. Leaves every day at around 2PM, probably that gets it to the border mid morning if everything is working out alright, bet they use new tires every chance they get. Sleeper bus.
The reason I was going to the terminal was to ask about the bus to Luang Namtha, leaves at 8:30 AM arrives 7 AM. Lot less formalities than the plane, just show up. Plane is booked out a week in advance.


This is an NGO worker I met through the internet who helped find a friends body last month in Sichuan Province China. She was working in the provincial capital when she got an email message from someone who sent emails to any organisation he could think of in the area. Charlie had been overdue on his flight home for a few days with no word to anyone. Shortly thereafter while at the bus station Kara on a whim went in a guesthouse nearby and asked if Charlie had registered there, and low and behold there was his name.
A few people from the town Charlie lived in immediately flew over and began a search. I can understand their reasoning, often climbers break a leg or something and crawl out. Happens more often than you might think. Every day that goes by the chances of a happy ending diminish. I saw the story in the newspaper, “Two climbers missing in China” and so I read on, you never know. I didn’t follow the story much after that. I was aware of the odds.
At first they weren’t sure of which province Charlie and his partner had been climbing in. The area is where Sichuan, Yunnan, and Tibet all come together. Lots of mountains not many climbers, good place to bag first ascents. Coincidently the last time I talked to Charlie was just before I went to live in Dali, just south of there thirteen long years ago. By a lot of hard work by Charlie’s friends and probably some luck they found the driver that had dropped them off and narrowed down the search to one mountain. They found Charlie but not his partner. Looked like an avalanche.
Kara was in Vientiane on a visa run and to relax in the warm climates a little. She was headed back through Vang Vien and wanted to try climbing on the limestone crags there, then off to a new job in Tibet with the UN. Kara if you are reading this perhaps don’t take up Alpinism. Charlie if you’re reading keep a cold one handy I’ll be right there.

Butt, Namphone, Thipalada, Hong on the porch

This last picture is of the completed shacket I built for my brother and sisters in law. Total price around $3500. A generous mom in law gave Butt here three cows to watch and he gets to keep the calves. One has popped out already. Butt’s work for the season is pretty much over until the rice is ready to cut in May, it’s about ten inches high now.
I asked Butt about insecticide and fertilizer. He said there is no need for insecticide and he does use fertilizer, 16-20-0. Lots to make the stalk and grains grow, nothing for the roots. From the rai he farms he gets about 7 bags per rai during the dry season, and maybe 9 or 10 during the wet. Right now he and his wife and baby eat 30 kilos a month. That leaves over a ton of his crop to sell, maybe just under a thousand dollars a year. Not counting expenses.

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