On the river
Trip Start May 01, 2010
90Trip End Apr 30, 2011
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We reached Nong Khiaw in good time. On the banks of the Nam Ou, underneath a towering peak covered in a tangle of jungle, the setting here is gorgeous. The village itself is tiny and laid-back, the people smiley. We chose the Sunrise Guesthouse as our base for the next couple of days on account of its location right on the riverside, not on its squat toilets!
The next day, the five of us hired some bikes and explored the local area
The following morning we were going to take a trek organised through our guesthouse but it was cancelled at the last minute because Bob got chatting to a local policeman who explained that it was forbidden to go on treks that weren’t booked through one of two agencies. We are not sure why this should be the case but anyhow didn’t want to get ourselves or the guesthouse into trouble so decided to go for a walk ourselves. We followed a path alongside the river and arrived at a tiny village. We soon got chatting to the village teacher who offered to take us to a waterfall and then go fishing. We were well out of the way of any police so readily took up his offer
Then we headed down to the river where we clambered into a couple of narrow fishing canoes and motored a little way upstream to a sandy beach. Here we had a go at casting the fishing nets, rewarding us with one small fish, and a lovely swim in the deep, fast-flowing water. Back at the village, our guide invited us into his house and shared his lunch of fish, chicken cooked in lemongrass, chilli paste and sticky rice. He also passed round a bottle of potent Lao Lao, the local drink distilled from rice. After lunch, he walked us to the edge of the village and gave us all hugs before waving goodbye. It was a wonderful experience that we won’t forget and we all felt very lucky that the day turned out the way it did.
The next day we reluctantly said goodbye to idyllic Nong Khiaw and got on board a boat to take us five hours downstream to Luang Prabang. Luckily this boat had comfy seats with lots of legroom as opposed to hard benches and we had a very enjoyable journey, listening to tunes on the iPod and watching the ever-changing scenery as we drifted by – green mountains, fishermen casting nets, water buffalos having a cooling soak and naked children splashing about. We arrived in Luang Prabang just as the sun was starting to sink towards the horizon. I have wanted to go to Luang Prabang for many years and first impressions did not disappoint. This could easily be the most beautiful town on earth.