Nong Khiew and Muang Noi

Another flash-back to a month or two ago in which footnotes are footnoted.

















Rush hour,  Main street, Muang Noi

After a delightful 6 hour sojourn at the Oudomxay bus station, we managed to haggle our way onto a Vientiane bound bus that would drop us at some middle-of-nowhere intersection from where we were assured we could wrangle a tuk-tuk to Nong Khiew. This situation arose despite the board at the bus station showing no less than 6 daily departures direct to Nong Khiew, one of which we even managed to purchase a ticket for at one point (see point 3 here).

I mostly dealt with this wait and the ensuing 7 hours or so of bus by gorging on bamboo tubes packed full of sweet, purple, sticky rice¬† (one of the world’s great somnambulants).

What we were seeking in these parts, the North East of Laos, was the fabled ‘off the beaten path’* and we more or less found it. Muang Noi, an hour or so (depending on how many locals/livestock/sacks of rice you need to take on along the way) up river from Niong Kiaw is accessible only by boat. Once there, your recreational options (for those that can’t be assed/can’t afford the trekking options on offer) are basically limited to:

1. drink beer
2. eat food
3. watch the river go by.

So that’s what we did. We may have stayed for days if it weren’t for a Dengue fever scare which sent us scuttling back toward civilisation the next day. The plan was to do this by boat, heading down to Luang Prabang along the heavily swollen Nam Ou river. Laos being Laos of course, the boat wasn’t running that day so we ended up chartering a mini-van with a bunch of other stranded travellers. It was not nearly as scenic as I’m sure the boat would have been, but on the upside it cost less, was indescribably more comfortable and only took half the time.** Plus those magic words “air conditioning”. So I’m calling that a win.

*…’but not so much so that there aren’t a few decent guesthouses and english language menus and maybe an ATM thanks’
** largely due to what was easily the most aggressive driving we experienced in Laos. We reached 60 km/hr at several points.***
*** On a single lane, partially sealed road, around each blind-corner of which frolicked errant children and livestock.

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