Wedding in the Village.
Trip Start Jan 10, 2010
26Trip End Apr 16, 2010
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Where I stayed
Ning Ning Guesthouse
Muang Ngoi is a small fairytale village (Lao version). The views of the river and the mountains are superb from the few patios perched high up on wooden stilts. The sunset in particular is spectacular from these vantage points. It's quiet and peaceful here, the village has no electricity (except from 6PM-9PM when generators all over start humming and everybody is busy with dinner) no cars or motorbikes... Heaven!
The village has only a couple of streets, the main street that runs parallel with the river and the one that runs perpendicular on it up from the boat landing. Beautiful temples at both ends of the main street, little shops and small rustic restaurants line its both sides with guest houses peppered in between
It was very very hot so Max and I decided it was time to take it to the water, but we going to do it Lao style in a wooden canoe which we rented from a local for less than $4. Our goal was to go up river for an hour or so and slide nicely back just in time for dinner. Happy like little children we took it to the river. Half an hour later we were no further than maybe 500 meters from where we started. Sheesh! what happened? The current on the river was stronger then anticipated and the fact neither of us knew how to steer the godam thing didn't help much either... Our dreams of plunderer Vikings roaming the river stopped abruptly when we met Lieke and Marol, two Dutch girls stuck in this one point on the river in their tubes (Tubing is quite popular among tourists and basically consist in renting an inflated tractor inner tube somehow get up the river and then float down river) unable to beat the current and advance upriver any further. Well chevaliery is not dead! we told ourselves. :) So with them hanging on to our tippy boat Max and I really had to put it in the overdrive one to make it to the little island no more than 100 meters away and two ... well did I mentioned they were young and beautiful?:):) Strong men that we are we made it to the island, beached the boat and went for a swim quickly abandoning our plans to continue up river in the favor of the nice company we just towed in.
Stealing a nice little nap while our boat slowly floated on its own down to the village was quite a satisfying end of our aquatic adventure. Great dinner and a bottle of Lao Lao acquired in the village made for a good day's end
Next morning I left the village behind me, and got on the road that was going to some caves first and then out in the countryside to a couple of other small villages. The caves (Tham Kang, Tham Pha Kaew) are not much to write about but it was fantastic to watch this small army of little boys almost naked armed with diving goggles and bamboo spear guns walking the creek's rapids head underwater, bumbs sticking out, spear fishing. And they were winning, the little bamboo baskets around their waists getting fuller and fuller accompanied by loud cheers and little victory dances with every speared fish.
I walked for hours in this unbelievably beautiful countryside through patches and patches of dried out rice paddies, enormous mud holes where huge herds of Water Buffalo were chilling out (one of them got stuck so bad that 4 locals and 10 meters of rope couldn't get him out... I'm afraid there will be beef on the menu tonight!:)) All this idyllic scene is surrounded in the distance by beautiful towering mountains. Lunch in the tiny village of Ban Nakaang was simple but very tasty, Lap is a Lao dish of grounded meat and fresh shredded veggies, some papaya, sometime a little bit of ginger, and fresh mint, quite good. There I made another friend Rich, he was traveling alone as well so we made the way back to Moang Ngoi together meeting the Dutch girls on the way as well
Next morning I woke up before sunrise and waited for the monks to show up for their daily alms. The monks are not allowed to work for their food so they rely entirely on villagers food offerings. Every morning right after the sun rise they come out from the Wat and walk a small procession on the main street in sigle file, complete silence each caring a beautiful bowl and accepting little offerings of sticky rice or fruits or other foods from the knelling villagers. Once in a while they stop and chant a small prayer thanking for the alms. It's so beautiful and no matter so many times I've seen it by now it moves me every time.
A good breakfast of Falang Roll (sticky rice, peanut butter and banana rolled and cut out like sushi) and Lao coffee followed and that was about it for me. I was to leave the village around noon going back to Nong Khiaw by boat and hopefully catch the other boat down Nam Ou to Luang Prabang the same day. But... we heard about a wedding happening in the village so we went to check it out, timidly at first but soon after the locals spotted us they invited us to sit down to eat and drink with them. Fair to say that after lots of BeerLao drank at an insanly fast pace I missed my boat and decided to stay yet another night in Muang Ngoi, not that I had any other choice anyway...So, I got back to sharing food and drinks with the villagers and dancing this local dance in a slow moving circle with some fancy hands gestures on this deafening Lao music..
Next morning after two hours of waiting and shuffling from one boat to another and to another (Organizing the bus and boat boarding is most definitely not Lao's people strongest point) we managed to finally get going down to Nong Khiaw where we got to late to catch the next boat to Lunang Prabang... So after saying good bye to Lieke, Marol and Rich (they left town by bus to other destinations) I booked my self in a cheap room of a road side guest house and passed the time working on the blog. Tomorrow 7 hours by boat to Luang Prabang... must be great.