Nov 22, 2009

Ban Ha Sip Song

Tree in front of Wat Song Buay on the way there

To kill time waiting to leave Laos I took my rental bike and drove up to the Hmong town at kilometer 52 on the road to Luang Prabang, named Lak Ha Sip Song, appropriately enough.

I stopped at Lak Ha Sip Song once before when riding up to Vang Vien with my in laws. I'd always wanted to spend a little time again looking the town over. For many Hmong in America the town is their best known destination in Laos. It's a Hmong town, but being so close to Vientiane it's accessible.

Market from the south west corner.

The bike was some old clunker I rented for four dollars a day from the guy who has a sign on a tree across from Kap Jai Duh. Both brakes weren't so great, rear ones sounded like metal on metal and they're the ones I like to use first. My usual technique for a quick stop is to lock up the rear tire then pump the front brakes letting off on them only long enough to keep the thing off the ground. It's worked so far. On this bike I had to use the front breaks a lot more than I like, oh well, just go slow and drive defensively right?

It was Saturday morning and traffic was light. The road is fairly straight and flat. The road passes through mostly rural areas but of course being the main road stores and businesses are frequent.

Alley on north side of market

Shophouses in Ban Ha Sip Song

For quite a while I followed a truck hauling an old D-7 cat on a lowboy. He was moving right along and used his air horn gently but often to clear the road of motorbikes and pedestrians. There's something about the idea of fifty thousand pounds of steel hurtling down the narrow two lane road that clears the way. He was moving faster than all the local traffic and the rich folks in SUVs and pickups were reluctant to get in front of him.

My biggest worries on the motorcycle are people entering traffic from the side blindly and others driving down the shoulder on the wrong side. Following the lowboy all I had to do to be safe was to tuck up right behind his rear tires until the road cleared out again.

Maykue Guest House next to market

Actually being there wasn't so thrilling, I was glad I hadn't wasted time actually getting off a bus and getting a room there. Just another Lao town. Ok, the people have longer faces, they are Hmong. But they wear Lao clothes and listen to Thai pop music. The market is alright but then so are the markets in a lot of towns. It's supposed to have a lot of food from the forests, I didn't see any endangered dolphins strung up to make jerky or anything. Maybe there's more to the place and I was just in a cynical, "been there done that" kind of mood.

There is a guest house, and the owner claimed they had rooms with hot water. Hot water is my new standard for hotel rooms. Place has hot water it's ok with me. If there were internet in town it would probably be a nicer place to hang out than Vientiane. Damning with faint praise.

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