Local roadside food stall
Nam Ou river from Nong Khiaw bridge
Nam ou looking north
Us two on the bridge
A moody Nong Khiaw morning
The traditional kitchen at our guesthouse
Homemade veggy spring rolls
Tasty water chestnuts
Delicious local lunch
Nam Ou river
We even had a proper indian meal one evening
Traditional village houses on a bije ride
Stairs up to Pat Ok cave. USed for sheltering people when the US bombs were dropping
Pretty big cave!
That’s Nina in there
Local river weed, sprinkled with sesame seeds and dried.
Delicious Jamaican cherry, found in most villages
We rented a couple of tyrs to float down the river on
A local grass, dried and used to make brooms
Our hosts in Nong Khiaw
Our boat for the 6 hour ride to Luang Prabang
The river on route to Luang Prabang. I wish more of our journey was floating like this
Chinese construction. Probably another road to for resource pillaging access
No better way to float than with some chilled tunes
Nice head scarf babe
Us bomb shell in a Utopia
Sweet rice patties drying in the sun
Preparing sweet rice patties
Luang Prabang monastery
Mushroom filled rice rolls!
Laos coffee guy
A monster bodhi tree
The Mekong river
A moody monastery
Posted in Building, Diploma, Environment, Food, Health, Music, Permaculture, Travel
Tagged Boat, CIA, Food, Laos, Luang Prabang, Mekong, Monastery, Mushroom, Nam Ou, Nong Khiaw, Rice, River, River weed, travel, Tubing, US bombs, Utopia, Wat
It’s been nearly a week since Nina and I dropped down from China into Laos on the bus. The difference in the feel of the country was instant. China was developed and overpopulated right up to the border and as soon as we crossed into Laos small thatched shacks on stilts started to appear in the landscape with only a sprinkling of people in ramshackle villages along the main road.
First stop was Luang Namtha, 60km from the frontier. Seems that many tourists come here for the jungle adventures that northern Laos has to offer and we were subtly shocked by the amount of “felang” (foreigners) in town.
We found ourselves a cheap place to stay and grabbed a feed at the night market. We’re into sticky rice territory now, along with new and unusual tropical fruits. The next morning we stockpiled our fruit stash at the market and treated ourselves to pink custard apples, bananas and pawpaw. The array of fruit was incredible, laying side by side with dead bats and songbirds, all local delicacies.
In the afternoon we hired bikes (80p per day) and cycled a loop to explore some local villages and the old and new stupas. The original 1658 stupa had been bombed by US planes during their epic airstrikes of the 60’s and 70’s. Laos is the most bombed country in history with more bombs landing here than in Germany and Japan put together. Today a new stupa stands next to the remains of the old. For a more in-depth insight into the CIA led tragedy The Most Secret Place on Earth is a must watch.
Later on Friday evening we booked ourselves onto a 3 day trek and kayak through the Namtha National Park. A kind of treat to celebrate 1 year on the road, 10,000 website hits and a new country all rolled into one.
We chose a joint Laos/Kiwi adventure specialist called Forest Retreat Laos who assured us that at least 32% of our money goes directly to the village who will host us on our first night. They have used recent donations to build a new temple, clinic and school. £51 for an all inclusive 3 days trek/kayak with food, drink, guides and accommodation seemed very reasonable to us.
We set of early on Saturday morning in a tuk-tuk. 3 Brits, an Italian, a Spaniard, an Ozzy and a Dutchy plus 2 Laotian guides and a roof full of kayaks. A 40 minute drive brought us to a small village on the banks of the Namtha river where we off loaded and filled our rubber kayaks with air. The locals looked a little bemused but we were soon out of their way and off down the river on a 20km paddle. Lunch was prepared on the banks half way along and after an exerting but satisfying day we rocked up at a riverside village and a purpose built shack for sleeping.
It gets dark around 6pm here. Pon showed us around the village then a boiled fish dinner came at about 7pm and I think we were pretty much in bed by 9pm.
A day and a half of trekking followed with a overnight stop in the jungle. We were told that the bamboo structure we slept in along with the toilet shed and guide accommodation was built by a team of locals in 2 days. The whole structure built from bamboo and vines… it made me want to learn more about how to construct with this extremely versatile material.
Our group had been joined by 2 ladies from the village for the trekking. Along the way we were shown various plants that locals use from the jungle. Joy even scraped bark from a particular tree when he heard Nina’s tummy was a little dodgy. Within an hour 2 days of discomfort were cured – amazing.
On saturday night we had a beautiful jungle meal which included rattan starch, banana flower, jungle mushrooms and wild greens – so so tasty! A similarly good breakfast set us up for the final trek to the river, trousers rolled high, boots around the neck and across the water for the tuk-tuk ride back to town. Even a puncture on the way home couldn’t bring a frown to an amazing 3 days in the jungle.
Posted in Appropriate Technology, Building, Environment, Food, Health, Permaculture, Travel
Tagged Bamboo, Banana, Bike, Bomb, CIA, Custard Apple, Cycling, Felang, Food, Forest Retreat Laos, Fruit, Jungle, Kayaking, Laos, Luang Namtha, National Park, Natural Building, Pawpaw, Rattan, River, Sticky Rice, Stupa, The Most Secret Place on Earth, travel, Trekking, Village, War, Wild Food
After two months holed up in Dali we finally set off south yesterday and into Laos. Dali provided a welcome break on our long push to Australia as well as plenty of opportunities to relax, DJ, eat amazing food and not to mention the great people we enjoyed good times with.
So long Dali, thank you. Thank you Vivi for having us. Thank you Scott and Carl and all you Bad Monkey crew for our DJ residency. Thank you Chenli and Charlie for putting up with us. Be careful Andy, no really, be safe. Nice partying with you Peter, get well soon Fabrizio. Good luck with the dancing Saphire. Look after that english lad Hao. Bye bye Juan. Good luck Sam and farewell YoYo, look after each other. A gallery of good times in Dali…
Posted in Food, Music, Random, Travel
Tagged Art Ink Guesthouse, Bad Monkey, Beetles Guesthouse, China, Chronic Jizz, Dali, DJing, Food, Music, Party, Richie Secret, Slackbanta, travel
One of our big concerns once our food forest was planted, and knowing that we would be leaving the country for an unknown amount of years, was how would our little fruit trees and bushes survive the encroaching grass, blackthorn and volunteer plants.
We had no idea at the time. There was no design element that we could think of, other than expensive, non natural sheet mulching techniques. We didn’t give that a second thought. Here’s where I believe design can happen organically, not necessarily at the offset, but when an idea comes to mind due to necessity.
Winter was fast encroaching and so was my 35th birthday. I am in China. I thought everyday about how our mulberry, cherries, apples, pears and sea buckthorn berries needed tucking in for winter. A cosy, thick bed of mulch to keep them roots warm and stave of the early grass growth of 2013.
I plucked up the courage and boldly requested my family to help with the “M” of OBREDIM – Maintenance. “If we can get a farmer to drop off 20 big bales of straw I’m sure it can be done in a half day” I asked squeamishly. Mum was keen and she asked that I email through some detailed instructions…
On my birthday, December 17th, I woke in China to check my emails. Not only had Mum written a great account of their “beautiful day” at the Patch but Clare had attached a whole photo album of the proceedings. We were so happy to see that the food forest had been mulched but more importantly Mum, Dad, Clare, Ethan and Phoebe confessed that they had had a really fun and enjoyable day.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR ENTHUSIASM TOWARDS OUR ONGOING PROJECT AT THE PATCH. PLEASE FILL YOUR BOOTS WITH FRUIT IN 2013
The Family on their way…
Clare checking out the walnut
Ethan on the pile of bales
Keen niece and nephew
Greetings from a far
Couldn’t ask for a better birthday present
Dad handing out instructions
Phoebe loads a bale
Relaxing in the sun
They’re on it now!
Mum shifts the bales around
A beautiful day at the Patch
Hot elderberry cordial
Bit of maintenance on the tanks
A well earned rest
Nice and thick!
A winter bed…
Mum mulches the native hedge
In full mulching swing…
Clare looks satisfied
Spread it about!
Native hedge mulched
Ethan relaxes (in mulch)
Phoebe joins him
Perfect, thank you so so much
Posted in Appropriate Technology, Diploma, Environment, Food, Health, Permaculture, Travel
Tagged apples, Birthday, Blackthorn, China, Clare, Dad, Design, Ethan, Family, Food Forest, Fruit, grass, hay, Maintenance, mulberries, Mulch, Mum, Norfolk, OBREDIM, pears, Permaculture, Phoebe, remote maintenance, seabuckthorn, Spring, Straw, The Patch, volunteer lants, winter