Muang Ngoi Neua

Trip Start Sep 27, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Lao Peoples Dem Rep  , Louangphabang,
Friday, March 5, 2010

We left Luang Namtha with the hope of reaching a small village on the banks of the river Nam Ou called Muang Ngoi Neua. We took a 6 hour bus ride to Pak Beng, then a tuk tuk to Nong Kiaw and finally we were supposed to get a boat one hour up the Nam Ou river, however we didn't get to Nong Khiaw till late so decided to stay there over night and get the first boat in the morning. We were amazed when we first got to Nong Khiaw as the view of the surrounding mountains was absolutely beautiful and it looked even better with the sun going down. We found a cheap bungalow, had dinner with Paul and Catherine and finished the day off with a couple of beers on our balconies.

The next day we got the 11am boat up the Nam Ou to Muang Ngoi Neua. The scenery was brilliant from the boat, all the surrounding mountains and countryside, it was a great ride. The river is very low this time of year so the boat driver was squeezing past huge rocks and the water was really shallow in places which was pretty scary at times. We got to Muang Ngoi and found a nice bungalow right by the river with our own hammocks and was really cheap.

Meaung Ngoi is a tiny village along the Nam Ou, cut off from all roads so is really isolated, it has a few minority villages and caves and nothing much else to do but relax and enjoy the scenery. The village is just a dirt track alongside the river with a few guest houses and restaurants, it only had a couple of hours of electricity a day. We just chilled out for the rest of the day, reading and swinging in our hammocks. That evening after some cracking pumpkin curry we bought a bottle of Lao Lao and played cards back at the bungalow with Paul and Catharine. Lao Lao is really strong but makes you really warm and happy drunk and doesn't give you a hangover, its great and just another reason we love Laos.

The next day we walked around the village and up to the nearby caves, a few kilometers away. We walked through the countryside which was lovely, but unfortunately the views were a little bit clouded by the smoke around the mountains from the farmers and villagers burning their crops. The cave was called Tham Kang, it is a huge limestone cave, 30 metres high with a river running all the way through, the water was crystal clear and came up to about Chris' shoulders so it was pretty deep. We walked to the back of the cave which must have been about 50 metres and it was a bit difficult since we only had 3 torches between us and it was pitch black. Chris and Jake were like kids going down all the passage ways, but Em, Paul and Catherine were a bit scared but were all laughing their heads off. One of the passages we followed was really narrow and we squeezed through to a huge under ground chamber. The cave was really cool and was great for a change from rivers and waterfalls and was a fun adventure.

After the caves we walked a few more kilometers to a nearby village and saw some locals weaving wicker rice baskets and kids in the village were all having a water fight but luckily we didn't get wet! In Muang Ngoi and the surrounding villages they all use huge bomb shells as garden ornaments or plant pots, they are really huge about 2 metres long and were all dropped by the USA during their secret war with Laos but were really cool to see scattered around the place. After a long walk back we had a couple of beers watching the sunset over the mountains.

That evening after dinner we finished off the Lao Lao and played some more cards. It was Ladies day in Laos so there was loads of parties with women dancing and drinking Lao Lao which was great ti see as the ladies work so hard. Muang Ngoi was a cool place to chill out and a well needed relax after the trek. The village is in a beautiful setting and all the locals were really friendly we had a really good time.
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