(Day 282 to 285)
30.08.2010 - 02.09.2010 37 °C
The 4 hour drive north from Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw takes you through rural dusty villages where women are dressed in the traditional long straight Lao silk skirts, and all seem to have long beautiful hair. The men are, well..men, and seem to do a lot of clearing their throat and spitting. We did grow accustomed to that in Thailand though, and are almost immune to it..
From Nong Khiaw, an hour boat trip up the river Khan took us to the small village of Muong Noi. This is the only way to get there. We decided to stay for 2 nights, and fell in love with the peaceful environment, clean air, rich green vegetation and chocolate brown river flowing by as we enjoyed a Beer Lao as the sun set each night. The only noises were from the odd boats passing by or the kids jumping and swimming in the river or playing in the dusty streets.
The pace of life here is slow to say the least. Villagers are up very early (we had to give up our planned lie-in immediately) and seem to get their tasks done by late morning. By that time, the sun is scorching hot already and they all hit the river for a swim or a wash to cool themselves. When this exercise has been completed, everyone seems to retire to a shaded area to escape the heat and the place looks kind of deserted. As afternoon sets in, the men gather for beers and a game or 2 of Petanque. After that we’re not sure, we assume they go home to eat and sleep but by that stage we were settled on the terrace overseeing the river and enjoying a cold drink.
The cold drink itself is a treat here. The villagers have no electricity during the day, and when they do, it only comes on at sunset, so why own a fridge, right? We rely on the hope that they’ve received a delivery of ice that day and that the drinks have had enough time to chill by the time we get there Obviously all backpackers in the area (not many) have sniffed out this trick and we all gather to spend the evenings together, playing cards until they shut off the generators again at around 22h00.
The day we spent there was done lazily, chilling, watching village life happen around us. No laptop, no movies, no blog (battery dead and no way to charge until generator time), just reading and chatting, and did us a world of good. Although, to be fair, even if this time away from our usual reality was perfect, it was also good to be back to the “real” world. Well as real as it gets in lazy Luang Phabang anyway!!
So from here, when it was time to go we took the boat back down to Nong Khiaw and then a separate boat further onto Luang Phabang where we would spend the night. The boat trip part is considered the most peaceful and beautiful boat trip in Laos and it definitely was stunning. From the scenery to the water buffalos wallowing in the river, to rustic fish traps lining the water banks. Our “ride” was also authentic to stay in theme, as we were sat knee against knee on a wooden plank on this boat for the 4 hours to Luang Phabang. Although our bottoms where completely numb by the time we’d arrived, it was worth every minute.