Laos - 2003
Laos was one of the “roughest” countries we visited.  This is probably due to the fact that whichever way the other travelers
went, we tended to go the opposite. We began our trip by sharing a van with a group of backpackers from the upper Thai
town of Chaing Mai to the Laotian border, here delineated by the Mekong River.  As they all were staying in a pre-arranged
hotel, and thence planning to travel down the Mekong to Luang Prabang, we found a ferry passage across the river to the
Laotian  town of Houay Xi and rented a nice room for a few days.    
We then rented a “jet boat” for the ride up the Mekong. (Update: The Mekong has since been dredged and the rocky bed has
been cleared to enable for commercial ships to travel up the river to ports in China.)
And away we go!
The end of the line was the village of Xieng Kok in the area commonly known as the Golden Triangle where Burma, Laos,
and China meet.  We rented a cottage overlooking the river, with Burma on the other side.
Traveling was difficult in the area, but was quite interesting as the women of the Akah tribe in the area did not cover their
breasts.  At least I found it interesting.
We spent several weeks traveling through the Northern parts of Laos adjacent to the Chinese border, which we were able to
walk to, but not to cross.
The hill villages were very interesting, guarded by gates we had to be very careful not to profane. If we so much as touched
one, the village would have to perform a substantial cleansing ceremony
The people were usually very friendly, especially considering all the damage the U.S. did to their country not so many years
ago.
The women quite often were spinning thread as they walked.
We had many adventures.  We traveled on the backs of trucks, ran river rapids, even lazily “tubed” down beautiful stretches
of rivers listening to the tropical birds and the gibbon’s calls echoing down the steep valleys.

We then left the comparatively wild northern parts of Laos and traveled south to the old French capital of Luang Prabang and
the current capital of Vientiane.  It was charming, but sorely missed the sense of adventure we found in the North.
View from our room in Vientiane.