Life in the small villages near the river: Muang Ngoi & Nong Khiaw
After the whole Gibbon experience, I still had a little bit more than a week left in Laos before my visa for Vietnam kicks in. I could be spending it trekking in Luang Nam Tha, one of the hotspots for trekking in Laos, but I figured I had just finished trekking in Huai Xai and I’m not exactly aching for another 2-3 day hike through the blistering sun. So I just tried to enjoy the quiet little life along the rivier in one of the remote villages in the north.First village was Muang Ngoi, one of the more popular places for backpackers to stop by and enjoy some activities in the water. There are no paved roads in this village and it’s only accessible by boat. There is no electricity during the day and the generators are only turned on between 6 and 10pm. Makes you actually appreciate the smaller things in life. Now I know what you guys are thinking: freaking hippie, but it is actually nice to go back to just the basics. Waking up at down with the roosters, taking a nice stroll, go for a swim in the river bank or just simply reading a bit in a hammock on the porch of you bungalow. I spent most of the time trying to catch up on my blogging, as you might have figured out by now, that I’m still way behind on. I actually even took the time to do some of my laundry in the river just like the locals do. In Muang Ngoi there wasn’t that much to do, there was nice little hill and cave you could visit for a few hours but for the rest of the activities such as fishing, kayaking or tubing you should head to one of the few travel offices. Next little town is Nong Khiaw, which is often overlooked by travelers. A lot of the town is still in development, difference here is that they actually have a bus station connecting other cities. One of the main sights is the Tham Pha Tok cave, a multi-layered cave which was used during the Second Indochina war. According to my guidebook they said it was 2,5km from town, but in reality it was way further than that! I walked to the cave and when I haven’t reached it after 1 hour I figured something was wrong and I wasn’t walking slow either. It didn’t help either that I was going there during the hottest time of the day. The cave itself was rather disappointing to say the least. It took me an hour to get there and spent 5-10 minutes in the cave. Turns out there was another cave which was more interesting, but you kinda needed a guide to know where it was. Guess I missed out on that one. Anyway after spending a few days in each of the villages I made my way to Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam!