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SEA-Change
By Kendra Kurihara and Rob Dillon - (contact)

On our ưay out: Muang Khua - Muang May

Wednesday March 23, 2011, 55 km (34 miles) - Total so far: 2,098 km (1,304 miles)

One of the challenges of heading off for a day of backroad travel is the necessity of finding food for the ride. It's a challenge we look forward to, because it entails heading to where the early-morning action is in small-town Laos- the market. We try and score some coffee, occasionally settling for "cafe Thai" (aka Nescafe), eat whatever's on offer for breakfast, and hunt around for portable, low-mess snacks to get us through to the next town. Here's a few regular standbys:

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Sticky rice pounded into the consistency of mochi, rolled in coconut. Made me nostalgic for fresh mochi that I can't find in the States anymore.

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Fried rice in compostable packaging. Not that anyone cares.

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Batter-fried bananas...yummers! Very common, and definitely best eaten hot.

All of these were found in the Muang Khua market, center of town.

Our destination today is Muang May, the last real town before Vietnam. It doesn't appear on our map and you won't read about it in the Lonely Planet, but other cyclists had told us to stay there so we could tackle the border range in the morning. First, we need to get back across the river:

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The Nam Ou ferry, shortly destined for obsolescence.

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Or from rats.

As the "highway" connects northern Laos to Vietnam, it constitutes a major avenue of commerce and is thus undergoing improvement, like just about every road heading for a border around here. Riding these roads gives one a real sense of a place in transition. It's rarely pretty to look at, but you don't hear people complain much about the possibility of new jobs or markets or access to lots of cheap stuff. The raw ugliness of unmitigated earth-moving, our sense of a unique place on the verge of transformation, and the fact that we were on our way out lent the day a bittersweet tone.

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Once you get up there, the road is cut into a high ridge with a few villages.

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Right back atcha, Mr. Farang-with-a-camera.

We broke for lunch at a bus shelter here. It wasn't empty for long.

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"SEA-Change" Copyright © 2010-2014 By Kendra Kurihara and Rob Dillon - (contact). All rights reserved.
Page was created on April 1, 2011 04:19 PDT, last updated on April 9, 2011 01:05 PDT
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