Chiang Mai - Muang Sing (Boun That Xieng Teung festival) - Return.

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    DATES 25 - 30 November 2012.
    The weather - unfriendly unseasonable miserable wet light rain, low cloud cover.

    The Rider: David Unk alone.
    The bike: Kawasaki Versys 650.

    It was a usual late getaway with CK arrival time of 6.30PM.
    Dinner was with Jurgen & K Fai at Rin's place.
    Jurgen was in town for the Tai Lue Tod Kathin festival at Wat Sri Dornchai, previously mentioned in events November-December 2012 A Busy Time.

    The next day's masterplan was to cross over the Khong & ride onto Luang Namtha for a couple of nights, before popping out to Muang Sing for the festival.
    Everything was going as planned, until it came to get on the ferry & cross the Khong.
    But you could not get on the ferry.....there was a huge queue of trucks waiting to get on, & no one could get on until a certain 10-wheel truck, stuck in the mud half way on the ferry, got out of the way,

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    maybe it doesn't look much

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    but supposedly it had been stuck two hours & there was a huge backlog of trucks right up the main street of CK. Ho hum!

    Eventually they managed to get the truck on by jinking the ferry around, in & out, left & right, plus use a mickey mouse winch trying to pull the fully loaded truck onto the ferry. I found it pretty entertaining.

    On the Houei Xai side, customs was cleared fast & downtown it was to get my visa.

    The forms submitted promptly & then wait.......the boss was still out on an extended lunch break.
    At 2.30PM I was in the clear & then ready for a rush 3 hr ride into Luang Nam Tha.
    But I saw no need to rush, go in the morning & take your time.
    So check into the Keo Oudomphone 2 hotel for the night.

    I hung out in HX for the night.
    At dusk back at the port it was a ferry & truck frenzy trying to get all the vehicles over before dark.

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    I counted 8 ferries going for it back wards & forwards across the 'Khong with trucks & cars.

    Sunset came & it was a beauty.

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    the view upstream from the Pornvijit.

    Next morning I hung out a bit & got involved with the Tiger Rally 2012 for Classic Cars.

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    From Houei Xai - Luang Namtha I carried the female photographer for the caravan, but we got away much later (Women packing their gear & bags!) than the cars & really only played catch up all the way to Luang Namtha.
    15 kms out of LNT it started raining & it was a slower greasy run into LNT.
    My photographer pillion rejoined the Tiger Rally to go onto Oudom Xai & I stayed in LNT for the night.

    In LNT the Forest Retreat was my wine & dine venue for the night.

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    where I enjoyed one of their excellent "wood fired pizzas."

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    It was an early night - in bed by 8Pm - as Id received a tip off that I should be in Muang Sing as early as possible for the festival tomorrow.
    I was lucky getting this tip off as my orignal plan was to rock up in MS late morning & pick up on what I thought would the a parade & some local tribal dancing.
    Little did I know......

    I was up at 6AM & on the road by 6.45AM.

    The LNT - MS road

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    the scenery is still as good as ever & the road as bumpy as ever.

    I rocked up in MS at 8AM & managed to negotiate my way up the hill to the wat.

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    I could not believe the crowd gathering.

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    more to come....(& I'm 3 trips behind with reports & pix.)...
     
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  3. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    Thank you David, nice beginning... I am eager to read and watch the rest. However late you are... you are still a lot faster than me:).
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The crowds for the morning merit making ceremony.

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    it was cool & foggy:the fog never lifted until 10.30AM!

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    people patiently wait for the speeches & opening formalities, before the mad rush to make merit by giving alms to a group of seated monks.

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    preparing alms for the monks

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    Gaining merit by walking round the chedi 3 times.

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    Tai Lue beauties patiently waiting for their turn to make merit.

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    more to come..
     
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    With the opening speeches announcing huge donations to the temple done, the merit making alms giving got under way.

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    A huge crush of people developed, pushing & shoving in the desire to give to the monks asap.

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    The money poured in

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    and the sticky rice built up

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    the monks had big plastic bags under the table & when the mound of sticky rice got too great it was put into the plastic bags, along with the other items, underthe table.
    Later on I saw the monks carrying the goodies off into a small shed beside the chedi.
    All a bit surreal I thought.
     
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    With the alms giving done, it was time for the cultural show & dancing from various Tai Lue & ethnic villages.
    And it was still considerably foggy when it got under way at 9.45AM.....

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    It was an incredible colour extravaganza

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    and then the power went of. Yep a power failure - no electric = no PA system & no music. No announcements to call up the villagers & next dance troupe.
    The big wigs may not have been so amused, but what the heck, this was rural up-country Laos on the China border & I'm sure they'd experienced it before.
    The power was off for a considerable amount of time, at least 45 -60 minutes.

    However Lao innovation came through & a group of ladies started singing playing the drums...

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    Then another group of ladies got together, put out a mat & provided another dance performance sitting down.

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    then came some nationalistic fervour with flag waving got everyone excited.

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    Laos ladies you rock.

    The power stayed off & unknown to most of the crowd the monks were away chanting with their blessing.

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    but you could hardly hear them.

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    it was a bit like being in a silent movie. No sound system & no announcements, just a few people knew what was going on.

    A few spectators& participants..

    Tai Dam

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    Akha

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    exchanging phone nos maybe?

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    Eventually power was restored & the show got back underway.

    Tai Lue

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    Tai Dam

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    Tai Lue

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    Hmong

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    Mien (Yao)

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    Striped Hmong

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    Akha

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    just a few more to come....
     
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Almost the end..

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    For me the show wrapped up around 1PM. I'd had enough, having been there since early morning, was hot & hungry & thirsty. It was time for a break...
    Accommodation & eats that night were in Muang Sing at the Phou Lu Guesthouse.

    There was a sensational full moon rise over Muang Sing that night.

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    the colour & warmth in the sky might be indicating not much cool air & indeed it started raining late that night & rained all night, plus most of the next day. Where's the cold season gone?

    Up at 6am again the next morning with a masterplan to hit the morning market but it was dull & wet. Cancel that. Lets hit the road & Luang Namtha it was for brekky.

    Muang Sing - Luang Namtha

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    still a crappy bumpy asphalt road.

    In LNT brekky down it was still dull & wet. Time to get out of here & head home.

    R3 Luang Namtha - Houei Xai was damp / wet most of the way out. Ho Hum.. you can't win them all, but the festival in Muang Sing was an absolute winner = I'll be back in 2013.

    Some R3 happy snaps for some newbies to get an idea of the brilliant road surface.

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    You can have fun on R3 HX - LNT

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    but you do need to take care of the container trucks.

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    Muang Sing, what where's that?
    Some snippets of MS History.

    THE XIENG TEUNG STUPA
    I hope you enjoyed the show. I certainly did & plan to be back in 2013. Muang Sing rocks at Boun That Xieng Teung festival time.
     
  8. Jurgen

    Jurgen Ol'Timer

    Enticing and colorful report, asalways, David. Great pictures of Muang Sing ethnic groups in theirannual main festival. It's so attractive that I cannot resist thedrive for a visit next month … but unfortunately, I will miss thenice dresses that you depicted so well.

    GT-Rider readers for sure appreciateyour permanent quest for great driving destinations and festivals.
     
  9. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Wow! Didn't realize such colorful cultural festivities happening there in Muang Sing. I gave this destination a miss on our recent Laos ride. Maybe next year I will visit just to witness such a local festival.

    By the way David, now I know why I didn't get to meet up with you while I was in Chiang Mai despite camping at the Kafe for 2 nights. Haha!
     
  10. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry Rob, next time. But the Kafe is alright to hang out at eh? A nice cool mellow spot in Cnx.
     

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