Smiling Children Of Laos

Overlooking the Mekong River, Larry ordered breakfast.  This would be our one full day of riding in Laos.

Thatched huts have satellite dishes. Corn grows up to home walls.  The main highway would barely qualify for a tertiary road in the States.  It’s adequate because many don’t have vehicles.  A few nicer homes randomly appear.


After a morning of dodging scurrying, plump, pot bellied, pigs and flea-bitten dogs scratching in the center of the road, we rested over a local’s lunch.  That means, we had no idea what we were eating.  Maybe it was a relative of one of the brilliant copper & red feathered chickens we saw along and on the pavement.  Vital to a Laotian family’s income through egg production, a chicken was valued at $300 when restitution was required after a Globebusters’ motorcyclist killed a chicken last year.  We have seen no cats in Laos.  Maybe we’re close enough to China that cats will only be found on a menu as “Feline Fricassee!”


I noticed a vehicle wash place across the road.  Larry and I had our bikes washed and dried.  Total cost for both – $3.


A treadle sewing machine, now found only as antique collector pieces at home, was awaiting a project. Laos is a very poor country so any functional equipment continues to be used.


One would think that after Larry & my combined 88 years of motorcycle riding experience, we would have learned that washing our bikes brings rain.   Although hot, weather in Thailand had been dry.    Riding in the mountains and stopped for a construction delay, the sky uncorked.  While looking through heavy rain at a family huddled in their doorway, the young father waved us over.  The mother brought out tiny wooden stools for each of us to sit on under the thatched overhang.  Mick and others sought shelter under a nearby shed.


After the rain subsided, Larry tried to give the father some money as a token of our appreciation.  Despite their abject material poverty, he refused.  When Larry motioned that the money was for their three children, an infant and two toddlers, the man smiled and accepted.  The look on his young son’s face suggested that they had never seen such a group of aliens as we fully armored motorcyclists.


Dodging a typical Lao tractor and various construction vehicles, we headed out to see more rice fields.  By the time we parked at our $8/night hotel room, no one could tell that our bikes had been washed four hours earlier.  Our hotel could be considered “basic,” a term Kevin uses when we’re going to be in a lower-end place.  I’ve never before seen so much beautiful teak furniture and wood work in one place as in this basic hotel.  Teak here must be as common as pine or oak are at home.  Setting up shop in the hotel lobby, Erwin did more repairs to Larry’s pannier.  He is one talented and giving man.


Since we will be crossing into China tomorrow, Larry & I took advantage of “The Last Supper” – beef with a blue cheese sauce, potatoes, and salad.  Such menu items will be rare once we cross the border.

Peter Vella boxed wine is popular in the USA.  In Minnesota, it costs $10-14/box.  In Luang Nam Tha, where our hotel room cost $8, the same box of wine costs $18-25/box.  Go figure.

You may wonder why I titled this “Smiling Children Of Laos” when there’s not one picture of a smiling child.  That’s because we were so busy waving to the enthusiastic, smiling, faces of the children we passed while riding, something we thought to be way more important than taking their pictures.

5-Jun   Pak Beng to Luang Nam Tha Laos  169 miles

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