It was to be the last day of our stay out in the jungle and we were very very much sorry to go. We got up early to pack and take one last look at our hut, the place where we had been uncomfortable and damp and although we had to be honest and say that we did not exactly love every minute, we sure did love a great deal of our time in the little box we called home!
For the last time we went for breakfast in the restaurant with heavy hearts and when we had eaten we asked Kunten if she could ring to get us a Tuk Tuk. At this she ‘told’ us we would have to pay 150,000 kip something we has assumed would have been in the price of the homestay trip! Unfortunately Kunten did not have a phone number to hand for the trip’s organisers and something got a bit lost in translation and all of this together meant that she did not ring for a taxi for us until much later so we ended up staying at our little homestay for most of the rest of the day. To be fair this was not as bad as it sounds as we did not want to go and Kunten’s old man came across and had a bit of a ‘chat’ with us with Kunten’s help and so it was that we all just sat around eating sunflower seeds and together they tried to teach us some Lao words to memorise. It turned out Kunten could remember all of the words that we had taught her but the words that she had taught us at the beginning, well we could not remember a bean!
The old guy even went and got us a flower each to say goodbye which was very nice and also quite touching and then finally our driver bounced our minivan down the muddy track and it really was time for us to go. Each of the family came over and gave us big hugs and it was really nice and genuine too, you often hear how people in SE Asia are quite reserved but this very nice little family that we had spent time with in the middle of nowhere, well they were not at all reserved and it was simply quite lovely – another one of those very special and touching moments that I am sure we will never forget.
Our trip back along the riverside road showed us the effect the rains had had upon it as in places there had been mini landslides and the van had to skirt these and numerous potholes. We eventually got back to Luang Namtha by the early evening time and got booked once more into the hotel we had stayed at previously. Then after living almost vegetarian for an entire week – water buffalo and smoked eel not included – we needed to get out and eat some meat! I was so hungry for meat that at one point Liz had to pull me off a dead cat in the gutter that I was about to tuck in to, on the way into the main town.
However, once in town we had the most excellent meal – Liz plumped for pizza and I went for steak, apologies to any vegetarian readers bit it was so rare that it was still almost mooing. To open the meal we shared a tuna salad with a lemon, mint and mayo dressing which was delicious just on its own and the mains were the equal to the starters so all in all it was a very nice, much appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed meal. After eating though, three old harridans came up to our table to try and sell us their beady wares in order that they could then feed their babies. I explained that we actually had no money on us being as we had just spent the last of it on a couple of after-meal beers – it certainly is a tough life being in the bead business in Laos. However, when we took a stroll about after our meal, we popped into the market across the way and saw the old hags scoffing on huge platefuls of food whilst their children played, so perhaps the bead business is a bit more lucrative than I first thought, or their lottery tickets had just come in!