Thursday, January 19, 2012

240 km

Thursday was a huge day.  Our guide isn't necessarily the best when it comes to communicating the plan for the day, which is generally fine, because we just follow him like little ducklings. We started out at 7a and headed to the next town over for some more bun cha. This one was tasty and was a bit different than the alley soup that we had earlier, including cucumber that added another flavor dimension.  The texture of the pork was a little different too, more like a sausage than a thick piece of bacon. With our bellies happily full, we rolled out, headed for ba be lake.

Last night we had elected to travel north across the lake by boat.  We had thought that we were saving seat time and taking a short cut but it turns out that we lost 2 hours on the boat.  If you ask me, the ride was definitely worthwhile. The lake is surrounded by steep mountain cliffs that are lined with lush green trees.  after crossing the lake, we headed up the ba be river.

For lunch we stopped at a small village along the lake.  We had more traditional food including some tasty cooked veggies, tofu with tomato sauce, and the ubiquitous spring roll. We got some fantastic pictures of the kitchen, one is shared above.

After the lake the scenery was fantastic.  Beautiful views of villages and terraced farms.  The riding was challenging.  The roads were narrow with tight switchbacks and covered with slick gravel.  We hit a 5 km section that was dirt and heavily rutted with a few mud holes.  I never thought I would be so happy to see potholed asphalt.

After the up and down of the switchbacks, the road opened up and We were driving along a river that was flanked by mountains on both sides.  We all began to get irritated when the guide just kept going and going, passing national geographic quality scenery without stopping for pictures.  Around 5:00 we learned that the reason we had been going non-stop was that we were making up lost mileage from the day before. Couple that with the lake and we were pretty behind.  The last part of the journey was a 50 km stretch crossing a mountain pass in the dark.  The weather was refreshingly cool, and we could hear and see bats crossing our paths.  We arrived safely in Meo Vac and had a good dinner with a new dish we hadn't tried yet - tasty pork sausage. Ryan and I ended the night sharing some of the local grain liquor with our guide and returned to the hotel to rest up for the next adventure.  Luckily the beds that we returned to were barely a step up from sleeping on the floor in hardness.  Luckily they were warm.


Lisa said...

Great pictures! And those boats are not quite what I was picturing, they are more like canoes!

Isaac said...

@Lisa: One strange thing I've observed in SE Asia is sometimes the boat shape/design changes from town to town!

@Marc: Man that looks awesome! The food and views sound fantastic :) The kitchen shots really just transport my brain instantly... keep it coming!