February 19, 2007

181206 Huay Xai to Luang Namtha part 3


Another breakdown (above), & everyone lunched at the only place with food:


Tiny, but well-stocked with the essential yellow crates of Beer Lao (above) + friendly meow + squid brand naam4 paa1 (fish sauce):


Stopped again (below) a short while after this round of repairs (above). Block of wood behind tyre = parking brake:


These stops served as toilet breaks, with men & ladies heading towards opposite ends of the bus, careful not to venture far from the road for fear of being blown up by UXO. All would later return to their original seat, assembling ourselves into the 3-D jigsaw puzzle that enables more than 30 passengers & their cargo to fit into an 18-20 seater bus. Plenty of opportunities for sharing food & laughter & much bonding among passengers, who would take care of those with motion sickness, ensure that no one got left behind at any stop, & even help repair the bus!

Brief stop was made at Vieng Phoukha to drop off a stack of wedding invitations. In rural Lao, people flag down passing buses/boats & hand over letters (or even verbal messages) to be passed to another village along the way. At the letter's destination the driver honks/yells for a villager to collect the item. Sometimes it isn't the letter's final destination, but just the village closest to the road/river, & whoever receives it there is trusted to get the item (in)directly to the intended recipient, who could be in a neighbouring village a few hours walk away. Trust-based postage-free pass-the-parcel-style door-to-door delivery system that rivals FedEx & UPS! =)

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