Our journey to Nong Khiaw was befitting of the town awaiting us. A trip on a long tail boat that put-putted up a river lined by mountains on either side. Truly gorgeous. I won’t go on about it as I think the photos capture it much better than words. If you’re looking for non-developed, non-touristy places than this should feature very highly on your list. At one point during the journey the river got very shallow and the stronger of the species were asked to get out and push the boat up-river. So Paul struggled away whilst I sat in the boat and took pictures. Who said sexism was all bad?
On our way there we met Susannah, a lovely girl from the Netherlands who was travelling around Asia for a month. We clicked straight away and spent the next few days together.
When we got to Nong Khiaw we casually made for the place we’d chosen off our guide book. We only realised we were going in the wrong direction when we reached the end of town. Luckily the town is tiny so it didn’t take us that long. We casually strolled in the other direction and headed towards some bungalows overlooking the river. Our chilled out state soon turned to mild panic as we realised all the rooms were taken. Everyone else on the boat had managed to nab a room while we were busy getting lost. Long story short, Paul and I ended up staying in something that can only be described as a wooden box. ‘Room’ is too grand a word. When I went downstairs to have a shower I found out that I was being far too optimistic when I tried to turn the tap. The ‘shower’ was the same vat of water used to flush the toilet. I had to fill a pot of freezing water and chuck it over myself. Not fun! So one word of advice, if you ever make it here run off the boat and leg it across the bridge heading straight to the bamboo huts over the river. This is survival of the quickest! Whilst you should go and eat at Delilah’s (the bagels are great) DO NOT sleep there!
The town itself soon made us forget our hovel. It’s set on both sides of the river with a magical view of the mountains as you’re crossing the bridge. Forget shops, paved roads or ATM’s and instead think bamboo huts, chickens in the road and locals washing in the river. We LOVED it!
Despite it being very basic, the town still managed to have one of the best Indian restaurants I’ve ever been to - Deena’s. We actually ate there on both of the nights we stayed in Nong Khiaw. Mmmmm I still dream of their potatoes and onion dish. Yummmmm!
That night as we tried to get to sleep on our plank of wood we heard someone struggling to open our door. ‘This is not your room’ I shouted, assuming it was a drunken traveller who mistook our room for his. ‘Yes it is’ came the sober reply. It turned out the poor guy had booked the room in the afternoon but did not bother to take his luggage up. He’d spent the whole afternoon chatting downstairs and only made it up at 11 p.m. In the meantime we’d been given his room by mistake. Only we were in it, luggage and all. The poor guy had nowhere to go and ended up having to sleep on the floor in the hall.
On our full day there we walked to a cave that’s a few kilometres out of town. Apparently people used to hide here during the war. It’s set high up in a mountain so that you’ve got a great view of the fields surrounding the area once you climb up to the cave. It’s worth a visit although it would be much better to cycle here than to walk. When we were there we started chatting to this couple who told us a story about their new neighbour. An Austrian guy who ended up room-less the night before. It sounded very familiar….
Whilst our visit to this town was short, its beautiful surroundings will stay in our memories for a much longer time.
We left the town just like we’d arrived. Up the river on a long tail boat. More from our next destination.
Lots of love
Karen & Paul