Well, here I am delivered back to Le Maquis Bar enjoying what I hope is not the last of many cold beers. The last two weeks has been fantastic - I have seen the most spectacular scenery I have ever witnessed (and unfortunately ever likely to witness) in my life - from winding mountain passes, cruising through seasonal forest and traditional agricultural holdings, to lush green valleys dominated by paddy fields.
We have crossed slow meandering rivers where you can spot the young minority boys swimming, and we've stopped to wish we were underneath the waterfalls that cascade down the mountainsides.
The people are beautiful and welcoming - the children are always calling out "Hello!" and extend their hands for a 'high five' as you cruise by. The most memorable occasion was when we paused in a small village for a the customary 'bia hoi' and learned that we were in fact the first westerners to have stopped there. I think we gave a good impression as through the translations of our guide we were able to exchange conversations, jokes and even a few songs.
So next time you are at a remote market and a tiny old woman smiles, then gives you her rendition of jingle bells.......
Thanks for everything, we couldn't have been better looked after (coming from the world's most useless travellers!)
Ursula Bycroft from England