Mar 1, 2007

Luang Namtha

Tatu and His Handlers

This is an extremely nice Spanish couple I met in Luang Namtha. I saw them at the restaurant next door to the internet place and when they left I rushed up the street to ask them for a photo. I thought them very photogenic. They also signified to me the coming of age of Luang Namtha, the town is now a destination in itself with quite a few guest houses and people coming to stay for a week or even more. The peace sign isn’t posed, I didn’t ask him to do that.
The little dogs name is Tatu. Tatu also comes from Spain. They brought him on the airplane without a problem. The only difficulties they encountered were at hotels in Thailand. Being somewhat tuned in to the culture here I can only imagine. Try to bring a dog in our house and my wife would hit the roof, wouldn’t even allow it in the soup pot.
I wrote down these people's names but lost my notebook. Like more than a couple young “hippies” I met on my travels they were very friendly and down to earth. I think people just stereotype too often. They never used “man” as slang once.
There are two things to note in the picture. Above them in the background is the sign at the entrance to Zuelas Guest House, and both of these young folks are wearing a Tong, as in the man purse I posted about. Cool.

Luang Namtha Airport 2/07

This other picture is of the airport. More than anything else the airport will open up Luang Namtha and it’s environs to the casual tourist. If people can fly, they will come. Only the most daring of tourists will take an hour or two bus ride, anyone will fly. As of today to get to Luang Namtha you can either take a 5 hour from Luang Prabang bus to Udomxai then bus to Luang Namtha. Fly to Udomxai then bus. Fly to Huay Xai over on the Thai border then a five hour minimum very dusty in dry season maybe a lot longer and muddy in wet season bus ride. Bus ride down from Boten on the China border. Or even more unlikely from Huay Xai fast boat Xiengkok, then Sawngthaews to Muang Sing and Luang Namtha. There is no easy way.
Today I estimate there are at least fifty tourists a day in Luang Namtha. A lot more than you see on the street. A lot of people don’t even stay on the street, but in some of the guest houses over towards the bus station. Three years ago Luang Namtha was more a place to stop on the way to Muang Sing, very few used it as a destination in itself. I met people in Luang Namtha for whom this was it, their most off the beaten track destination. I’d guess the tourist visits have doubled since three years ago.
The airport as well as the new banked hard surface road are going to be done someday. It seems as if that day will never come to look at things. Such big projects such teeny machines. They are working at them both. Work goes on seven days a week, and they are using a lot of heavy equipment. I saw the only bottom load dumps I‘ve seen in Laos on the road. When they are done watch out, Luang Namtha would be a different place with another hundred and fifty visits per day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I never had much difficulty travelling with a dog in Thailand. Of course some Westerners would insist on actually having the dog with them inside the room.. yuck.. I can imagine that would be frowned upon. So just find the beast a sheltered little space somewhere semi-outside, then there's usually some parking attendant or doorman around to keep an eye on it.