There is something about Laos that cannot be explained in words or photos. It is just the most magical country I have seen.
The truck stops and we jump excited, not believing we arrived successfully. We say goodbye to the guys who answered to our hitchiking needs and to the wardrobe who was our fellow traveler in the back of the truck. He tried to fall over me several times on the windy roads, but I forgive him and there are no bad feelings.
What we see is beauty – a bridge over a wide river, forest mountain slopes. It’s quiet and it’s almost evening. The limestone rocks have surrounded the small, sleepy town of Nong Khiaw. The beautiful Nam Ou river goes right through the centre of the town.
I like Nong Khiaw. The food here is very delicious, the nature around is amazing. It’s a boring town and this is very relaxing. Enough time for reading, writing and doing nothing. After sunset, the things we can do are very few. It’s Laos after all, so the best way to spend the evening is eating something too spicy and have a Lao Beer on your bungalow veranda.
Our next stop is Muang Ngoi, which we reach by a boat from Nong Khiaw. They say Muang Ngoi is a town, but this too big word for the small street with houses on both sides. It is very opened to tourists with almost every house functioning as a guesthouse, restaurant or shop. Still in a way, maybe because it is so small we didn’t feel overwhelmed and even found it very nice. Because the locals are all working in hospitality they are very welcoming and it’s very easy to get to know them and practice some Lao language. I think the weather is the one to blame for my love for Muang Ngoi. The rain all day, the dirt turning into red mud, the fog in the morning.
The greyness of the surroundings except for the red of the road really made all the scarfs sold on the street look even brighter and more colourful than they were. Selling trick perhaps.
On the only day when it was not raining all day we went to the village nearby for a walk. It was not too long a walk because we hitchhiked a funny looking thing which I guess was kind of a hand-made tractor.
It’s almost dark. Raining outside. There is a small fire in a basin on the ground. We’ve gathered around it like on a bonfire on the
beach. Trying to warm our cold hands. We’re not in the forest but in a tiny eatery where they make the most delicous Lao noodle soup (even vegeterian!).
The fire was made by the owner-the man constantly giving everyone shots of his home-made rice whiskey-the man who took us on his artisan wheeled tractor today on the road between two villages-the cook-the one who murdered the duck for dinner. We’ve been sitting around the fire for the past few hours. It’s raining and it’s Muang Ngoi so the options for a party night are limited. There is noone passing by outside and the only sounds we hear are our voices and the song of the constant rain. A shot, two, three – Lao Lao whiskey is the perfect drink for the evening. We’re getting warmer and happier, forgetting about the ruined plans for trekking. Laos is a special place and so is Muang Ngoi. Especially if you manage to find a few people with whome several days spent with feet wading in mud and sipping hot tea will be nice memories and wiritings in the notebook.
As always Travelfish helped us a lot with finding the place and having an idea of where to sleep or eat. More info Travelfish.