Today we have a long bus ride up and over the mountains and we are grateful that they have decided on hiring a private bus rather than us crowding in with the locals and their chickens on the public bus. We stop for lunch at a restaurant perched high on the hilltop at 2000m with spectacular views all round. Even the toilets have a spectacular view.
Little groups of houses perch precariously between the road and steep precipices. Children and animals race around seemingly without a care as vehicles speed by. The crops, trees and burning patches stretch down the steep slopes. As we wind our way down we see the houses gradually become more solidly built in more permanent materials as we get closer to the capital and then start to become larger and more cosmopolitan.
We stop in Viang Vien which is a little town that seems to embody the worst of all cultures. It is where hordes of drunken twenty-somethings traditionally went tubing down the river stopping at all the bars along the way. This activity has recently been stopped following some tourist deaths. Many bars have now closed and the town seems to still be working out why it exists. In fact the locals sensibly live some distance away. It appears to be predominantly backpackers but we watch hot air balloons float gently into the evening sky.