We spent the morning at a market. The meat aisle was clean but… unflinching.
The second half of the morning was a sobering immersion into the history of the 9 years that the Americans spent dropping bombs on Laos during the US/Vietnam war, and the ongoing horror of undetonated bombs all over the country.
We started riding again in the hills after lunch, heading south on the main road to Vientiane. We climbed a ridge again into the clouds, sheer drop into white nothing right off the edge of the road. The others in my group got into the van, but shivering, I wanted to be in the sounds and smells of these tiny villages in the cloud. People hovered over fires everywhere and toddlers wriggled as their parents bathed them.
Men have babies kangarooed to them as often as women do. Little girls have jobs cutting sticks and bamboo.
I rode free, just me and the road and the cloud and the villages. And, as I rounded the curve for the hotel, the skies cleared.