Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nong Khiaw & Muang Ngoi, Laos

Nong Khiaw is a town about four hours’ drive north of Luang Prabang. The picturesque town is situated on the Nam Ou River, surrounded by peaks. I was there only to take a one-hour boat ride to Muang Ngoi. Along the way, I witnessed water buffaloes, villagers fishing and rowing and many limestone peaks.

Muang Ngoi is a tranquil village of a few hundred people on the banks of the Nam Ou River. The village, similar to the Four Thousand Islands, offers bungalows with either an enclosed bathroom or an outhouse. Even with the tourist boom, Muang Ngoi has managed to retain its simplicity, with no Internet, no hot water (only freezing cold showers) and electricity only for three hours in the evening.

I really enjoyed the river and mountain scenery of Muang Ngoi. I was able to go on a day trek to a cave and to Ban Na village. (I was glad I did this as I dislike guided hikes.) On the way, I walked along dry rice paddies and was in a valley surrounded by peaks. It was indeed very relaxing! The village itself was typical of the area, with wooden and straw huts on stilts. The people were dressed ordinarily and not in their ethnic garb (which seems to be only for the tourists).

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