Off the Beaten (Buffalo) Trail
Trip Start Nov 05, 2008
27Trip End Jun 23, 2009
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Where I stayed
These are some of the typical questions involved in the inevitable, but still enjoyable small talk with fellow travelers on my trip. Sometimes the conversations lead to more than that, such as grabbing a beer or dinner and if we happen to be heading in the same direction, then traveling together is considered as well. It took all of about 5 minutes of this kind of small talk for a Dutch guy in Louang Prabang to convince me to check out Nong Kiaw and Moung Ngoi to end my travels in Laos. With only a few days left with my Laos visa, I suddenly realized that I could not longer be so relaxed about time and should probably organize my route to Vietnam. Described as a peaceful, mountainous region in the general direction of the northern most border crossing, it sounded like an ideal place to spend the next few days
The trip from Louang Prabang to Nong Kiaw also marked the last stretch of my hitchhiking journey through the country and my luck continued. The 8-year-old boy who walked with me heading out of LP refused to give me a lift on his bicycle, so I was forced to look for other options. I had built up so much confidence from previous success, I was sure that I would find a ride...er, several rides to end up 3 hours north in Nong Kiaw. The first ride was from a Thai family on a road trip that actually went out of their way to help me for a significant portion of the journey. The minivan filled with 8 members of the family was stocked with plenty of supplies and enough space to fit me in the back with the two kids who gave me some dried seaweed to snack on. They were visiting some caves north of LP, but drove another 20km north to bring me closer to my destination. The next two rides were relatively uneventful, one with a stone-face, ex-military looking guy who didn't speak one word for the entire hour, and the final stretch of road in the back of a pickup truck, listening to ipod tunes and watching the sun go down behind the nearby mountains.
The town of Nong Kiaw has nothing in it besides a few restaurants, riverside guest houses, a "cinema," and a boat pier for trips going north to Moung Ngoi or back south to LP
This town was very quiet, no cars or motorbikes and a perfect place to read a book on a hammock and go for more hikes
After a few days relaxing in Moung Ngoi, I was prepared to take a very long, roundabout way to Vietnam. Many travelers decide to fly to Vietnam and I can now see why, but my route was definitely more of an adventure...
Next Stop: Vietnam Border, Dien Bien Phu, and Sapa