Our plan today was to to a trek up to a village which Rene had been in 2005. He had some pictures he printed out to show the kids he had met then. While talking to one of the girls, Gou Li, working in Forest retreat cafe, he realised that one of the kids is a teacher now. Gou Li who Lives in the village of Nam Di, has family in the Mountain village of Ban Si Da, which was where we wee headed. Gou Li, decided to join us to meet her grand parents and so it was going to be a trek for us with a local, resident guide!
We were up early, had some b’fast at Manikong and headed to the market to buy some lunch to eat at the village. The ride from the main road to the Nam Di Waterfall was a ball breaker over terrible gravel road, but it was just a short 5 km ride. We met Gou Li and Headed up. Though the day started cloudy, it for pretty bright and sunny soon and all of us were sweating buckets in the heat. It was a beautiful trail laid out for motorbike to ride up and down and would have made a fantastic Mountain bike trail I reckon. It was great to walk in and to be honest, it was just a gentle hike. Something I could do on a regular basis on weekend Mornings or probably train for train running.
The more interesting bit was that there were tons of trails leading into the farm lands and forest all over the place. This could be a place one can explore over multiple hikes over months. At some point, Gou Li made hats out of Leaves for all of us and it was a nice relief from the direct heat in the sun.
The scenery was spectacular. Beautiful mountain ranges, nice wide valleys and surprisingly, though there were numerous rubber plantations, there was unspoilt forest in many areas. It was great to walk in the lush jungle all day. brought back memories of Te Araroa, especially when I had to do a couple of stream crossings 🙂
The Village we headed to was nicely nestled in a densely packed valley and pretty well hidden from view. We spotted the village pretty much only when we got into the middle of it! This is a spot that is not in the tourist map nor in the local trekking companies maps and the kids were pretty shy seeing a few of us suddenly showing up. Gou Li’s Family was very welcoming and made us feel at home . A bunch of local children hung out and slowly warmed up to our presence.
Rene shared the pictures he brought and there was a immediate sense of recognition of the kids and the oldies were talking about where the kids were and pointed to some of the children and mentioned they were the children of some of the boys! Time is strange and I suppose Rene did a nice thing by bringing some nostalgia to the village!
We walked a bit more into the forest, Gou Li was collecting some ferns and bushes for cooking later and I saw a beautiful brook and decided to spend a while lounging in the water. Rene joined and we spent a while and ate some of the lunch we had brought.
When we headed back to the village, Gou Li showed us some ant hill and told us it was edible, all of us indulged in eating a little bit of dirt! I suppose eating dirt was a popular thing in really poor places and even popular in America’s during depression era. It’s low in nutrition and not having proper food causes serious map nutrition and eventually a lot of health issues, but can’t deny the fact that it satiates hunger and when you have nothing to eat, it’s an alternate.
When we got back, we rested in the house when the household decided to cook an impromptu meal with the herbs and ferns. We shared our food too and had a nice meal in the house!
This part of the mountains, stretching from lower Himalayas in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, southern china and may be a little in Vietnam is a hot bed for scattered tribes. They are small groups of traditionally nomadic people, but now mostly indulging in farming and other settled occupations. There are possibly 100’s of independent tribes each with its own cultures and food and even language. This village was a Se Da tribe and Gou Li mentioned that there are only 2 villages in Laos and their language is spoken by less than 400 people! It was a real privilege to be able to visit this with some one belonging to the tribe and have an intimate time spent with the people! It was an amazing experience. Makes me think that I should spend more time visiting villages and learn a bit more about them!
The work people like Rene, Melanie, Bianca are doing feels like such an important activity to help these people be self sustained and provide a good life for the future generations.
We walked back from the village and as the sun was setting, the views got nicer in the evening light and was very enjoyable.there are tons of tracks to explore here and would be such an awesome hidden spot for intrepid Trekkers!
We returned to town and brought some veggies in the market. Chris decided to make another meal (good travel buddy) and we had dinner on the patio with some Jamaican rum and cuban cigars to finish off the evening! As usual, I took up the job of doing dishes. Melanie visited us for a while and we bid her good byes for the 4th time this week, heh. Luang Namtha does not let us leave!
Tomorrow, we must be on our way to Vientiane, we have the tickets, and no reason to prolong our stay!
Distance: 0 km (20 km trek, but will count it out)
Ascent: 0 ft
Descent: 0 ft
Time in saddle: 0:00 hrs
Expenses: Sg$ 15.00
Comments: Luang Namtha is paradise!