Nam Ou River

Nam Ou River

30 mph, Sam Neua

30 mph, Sam Neua

Nong Kiew

Nong Kiew

Made in the USA, Nong Kiew

Made in the USA, Nong Kiew

Fresh dog, Sam Neua

Fresh dog, Sam Neua

Nong Kiew

Nong Kiew

Sam Neua

Sam Neua

Kieran and Marlen, Plain of Jars

Kieran and Marlen, Plain of Jars

Unexploded ordnance, Vieng Thong

Unexploded ordnance, Vieng Thong

Sam Neua

Sam Neua

Post-burn, Vieng Xai

Post-burn, Vieng Xai

Between Sam Neua and Phou Lao

Between Sam Neua and Phou Lao

Laos

Northern Laos

March 2010 • Traveling through northern Laos during the month of March was pretty gloomy business. Luang Prabang felt like tourist flypaper with all the authenticity of a side street in Disneyland—except for the skies made dingy yellow by fires that were clearing land for upland rice cultivation. Some days it rained black ash for hours. Nong Kiew was marginally less touristy and post-apocalyptic, but attempts to befriend a local were dashed by the mentality that foreigners are potential sponsors. Things got a lot better when I reached Houaphanh province, which is much less developed for tourism and didn't seem to be as charred as elsewhere. The provincial capital Sam Neua has a good hotel, a good Internet cafe, and a great Indian restaurant. But more important, it's the gateway to Vieng Xai—the single best reason for visiting northern Laos.

Nam Ou River

Nam Ou River

30 mph, Sam Neua

30 mph, Sam Neua

Nong Kiew

Nong Kiew

Made in the USA, Nong Kiew

Made in the USA, Nong Kiew

Fresh dog, Sam Neua

Fresh dog, Sam Neua

Nong Kiew

Nong Kiew

Sam Neua

Sam Neua

Kieran and Marlen, Plain of Jars

Kieran and Marlen, Plain of Jars

Unexploded ordnance, Vieng Thong

Unexploded ordnance, Vieng Thong

Sam Neua

Sam Neua

Post-burn, Vieng Xai

Post-burn, Vieng Xai

Between Sam Neua and Phou Lao

Post-burn, Vieng Xai