Published: December 11th 2007November 18th 2007
captain of one of the boats that i took
As always I hope all is well with you and yours.
For those of you who are receiving my travelblog for the first time - welcome
wow time is really flying and i am rally far behind in my blogs. i can't believe it is "the holiday season" already (well not here in asia). Before I tell you about life on the Nam Ou river in laos I wanted to let you know how things are going here in Vietnam. I came overland from Laos to Hanoi about two weeks ago. I spent several days in Hanoi getting caught up ... before taking off to Halong bay, one of vietnams most visited tourist areas. from there i went back to hanoi and took an over night train to Lau cai and then a van to sapa. i am currently back at the train station in lau cai wiatng to take the over night train back to hanoi. I should get a vietnam blog off in a few days (i hope). quick update, i am back in hanoi and thinking of taking the train back to sapa to visit some villages.
ok, part III of my Laos
typical river scene
Blog - life on the Nam Ou. I left Luang prabang and took a boat up river to nong khiaw where i spent the night. the next day i took a boat up river to muang ngoi neua where i spent the night and arranged a 3 day trek to some of the surrounding hill tribes. I left muang ngoi with two couples( welcome franc and Andrea & Franz) and headed up river to muang khau. Turns out that twe had 3 photographers on the boat (franz being a real one), it must have been quite a site for the people on shore to see three guys in a row all pointing "big" lenses out of the boat at them. I spent the night in muang khau and then headed up river to hat sa where we took a truck to phongsali. in phongsali we booked a two day trip to some "near by" hill tribe villages. After the trek i went back to phongsali and spent the night and then head to hat sa to take a boat down river back to muang khua where i spent a few days going to loacal hill tribe villages. The next part
of this blog will cover the hill tribe villages in "detail". CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE NAM OU RIVER
traveling the river is a nice way to move about in Laos. The river gets narrower as you head up river (duh) as well the boats get narrower. There are occasional breakdowns, like the time we hit a rock and bent the rudder and trashed the propeller. the boat captain just hopped off, stripped down to his bikini briefs, takes off the rudder and beats it on a rock until it is "straight". next, he puts on a new aluminum propeller and "fixes" the stern which was shredded after hitting the rock. when we left hat sa to go up river to start our trek the captain turned off the boat to drop some guys on shore and couldnt get the boat started again because the battery was dead. a few guys tried to pull start it (the motor is a "car engine") which didn't work. no worries, because about 10 minutes later a canoe motored up with a new battery and we got the boat started. I found out that
a lady from one of the villages on the river
the boat captains take turns plying the river to help other boat captains who are having problems.
while going from "town" to "town" on the river, we stopped at various small villages to drop off/pick up passengers and cargo. Along the river you will see people working (mostly women), kids playing and men in "canoes" fishing. Some of the women were carrying 100 pound bags of rice ... which they may have carried down from their village which may be two or three hours away from the river! I would say that most of the villagers along the river survive by growing food and fishing. Some of the towns would have electricity from 6p to 10pm but not in the villages. Well actually some of the villagers are quite creative and have created small "electrical plants" using running water and the rim of a bike tire to generate electricity.
The boat captains are quite good drivers and navigate the rapids quite well (though occasionally you may get soaked by a wave). Travel seemed somewhat safe (though i don't think any of the boats had life jackets - if they did, they weren't readably accessible). we did
have one near miss when coming around a bend and a "speed boat" coming down river barely missed hitting us.
I will keep this short since I will be publishing a "blog" a week to get caught up.
David F O T O S B Y D A V I D . C O M
There are more photos below