Further afield in Laos
Trip Start Dec 18, 2011
38Trip End Feb 29, 2012
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Almost on the spur of the moment, we booked a guided boat tour (375 kip each) up the river to Muang Ngoi and beyond to Sopjam, where no roads have so far penetrated. To reduce the cost, we were joined by Suzi and Kostic, two socially responsible young travelers who made the day so much more enjoyable.
Fitted with ultra-comfortable bucket seats, the small wooden boat took us to Muang Ngoi, a village that was bombed almost out of existence during the American "Secret War" (no secret to the villagers) and since rebuilt. It was strange to be in a village so cut off from civilization that no road connected it to the outside world
Our guide led us a few kilometers away from the river to Phanoy Cave, where we made our way by micro flashlight a couple hundred feet into the earth along the slippery floor. I must admit, I had a mental image of the “killer rabbit” scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” at the entrance.
Back on the boat, we headed upstream again, through jungle-covered mountains that reached the banks of the river, reaching Sopjam, another roadless destination, where the village has replaced slash-and-burn agriculture with the weaving of exquisite colorful silk scarves. There, at a house in the village square, Suzi and Kostic presented the village headman with a selection of children’s books they had bought for the purpose from the Big Brother Mouse non-profit in Luang Prabang. They later took more books to another remote village outside of Luang Prabang.
The several-hour return to Nong Kiaow allowed us to again appreciate the stunning scenery and contemplate life in backcountry Laos.