Lak Xao

Immediately upon leaving Hanoi, a wave of relief set in with the passing scenery.  Laos was sure to be more of what we envisioned; mountainous, peaceful, surroundings of nature versus millions of people and cityscapes.
The further we journeyed into Laos, the farther the temperature dropped.  It amazed me to see so many travelers on the road walking barefoot in the cold rain.
A persistent haze stayed with us the entire trip but could not distract from the beauty of the country.
Water Buffalo are still vital and used for plowing, transportation, milk, hides, and meat.
In all of Southeast Asia it was common to see motorcycles carrying huge loads.  The picture book, Bikes of Burden, is a great visual summary.
We arrived at the Lak Xao market as the sun was setting.  Lak Xao is a major logging center but used by travelers as a transit town.
The town lies in the shadow of a large limestone mountain and perhaps that was why it was so cold.  The residents were quite used to it, leaving doors open for the frigid air to seep in.  Neither our hotel, nor the restaurant across the street where we ate dinner, had heating capabilities.  I thought perhaps we were being ninnies thanks to our Caribbean moderated blood, but the rest of our group was suffering the same.  After a restless sleep in three layers and hoods, we were overjoyed to see a bit of sunshine the following day.
All images by PepperKeyStacie

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