Right: The vibrant market in Phongsali

From Muang Khua, Patrick and I continued up the river by speedboat to Hat Sa where a truck took us to Phongsali, capital of Phongsali Province in the far north. Clearly we were getting off the beaten path at this point as other foreigners were getting pretty thin on the ground. I discovered a strong Chinese presence in Phongsali. In fact, I was able to communicate in Chinese on a number of occasions. With Patrick's ability to speak French we pretty much had the town sewn up.

Phongsali market

Phongsali Market

There is an active market in Phongsali where you can load up on provisions for excursions into the hills. If smoked rat is to your taste these are available at the market, I was quoted 5000Kip/rodent though I wasn't tempted. On any given day any number of Phongsali's numerous ethnicities will be represented.

Below: some of the exotic treats available at Phongsali Market