Published: April 22nd 2012April 16th 2012
slowboat to Muang Ngoi
and i thought there would be few people going because of the new year ...
And even further north i visited a village only accesible by boat ... again smaller and way more remote than Nong Khiaw, this town only has electricity 3 hrs a day ... and only walking 1.5hr further into the countryside i finally ended up in some authentic Lao villages where tourism wasn't the main business ... only one guesthouse and u could still really feel how the Lao really live ... and that's very relaxed i gotta say ...
LIFE in LAOS
So much i have seen, so much i have experienced, so much i have inhaled of life in Laos, that instead starting at the point i left paradise, i will write backwards, starting with my little jungle walk to the Pha Ouh cave ... i was up my usual time, around 6am and packed my little napsack and went to the temple, which unfortunately was still closed, so i started to follow this little jungle path with a sign of the above mentioned cave ... unfortunately i didn't have my Mae Salong shoes with mi (and mi hikingboots are in Chiang Mai so i had to very
Rimma in thought
(the woman i spend the previous day with ...)she had boarded way before mi, thus was sitting on the other side of the boat
uncomfortable first experience to be sucked by leeches on a continuous basis ...it rained hard last night and the path was covered with wet leaves which created a sort of slippery carpet on an even slippery clay ground ... within 5 minutes i felt like a needle was stuck between my toes and when i looked down i noticed a worm crawled up between my toes ... ignorant mi, i thought that with one flick against it, it would fly off my skin, however it had already stuck itself to my foot, so when i pulled it lose, i started to bleed, not only that, one end flipped over and stuck to another part of my foot, which in turn started to bleed when i pulled it lose, and then of course one bite and it was stuck to my fingers ... shaking didn't help and as i picked up a twig to get the bloodsucker of my hand, i felt another one of those darn little creatures finding my bare flesh again, this time on my shin, with one flick with the twig i was able to get it off mi. .. So my leasurily stroll became a quick
the captain's side
i was happy to sit up front as in the back you can't even hear yourself think due to the outside diesel engine
hike as i noticed they wouldn't get on mi so fast. .. After about 15 min, i started to notice one long gardenhose appearing out of the jungle and along the path i was walking it lead to the a 'jeu de boule' court which was property of the little restaurant below the karst the caves were in. .. And then i found myself standing in front of a locked bamboo fence and gate. ... Not wanting to wait (it was only 6'45am) i climbed over a bunch of rocks with some nasty prickly bushes however i managed to get to the other side of the fence, the scratches making a nice bloody picture next to my leeches bites (of course i wasn't able to avoid all of them with my fast pace. ..) ... In victory i started to climb the rocky, muddy path up, straight up and careful with each step (had to continuous think of how the elephants mounted such paths), slowly, elegantly, stylish and most of all careful however when i had done this for about 10 min, stopping on the flat parts to pull off the bloody leeches, i started to worry a bit that
up the river Ou
this is the river which leads to Luang Prabang 10-12 hrs south of Nong Khiaw, i was heading about another 2 hrs north
perhaps to do this jungle hike by myself was not such a good idea, and of course the moment these thoughts appeared my concentration had ebbed away from my steps and slllssshh, here my foot slipped and down i went. .. Thank goodness i was able to grab an overhanging root, thus i was able to stop mi rolling and falling down the mountain. .. Covered in dirt i found myself an old branch and decided to continue, afterall i had come this far. .. Another 10 min or so and i reached a 20-step bamboo ladder and made it to the caves. .. The sun was just coming up from behind the karst i was climbing and gotta say that it was all woth it to see the light slowly descending the karst on the other side of the river Ou. ... I found myself a nice flat rock and exhausted i regained my breath while drying off my sweaty face, neck, back etc. ... I drunk about half a bottle of water and once i felt i was balanced again i went into the cave, which narrow corridor i followed until i had to crawl (yeah yeah of
only to be reached by boat
however there were many many scooters in this area ... here we're disembarking the boat over a selfmade pier of sand bags ...
course i carried a flash light) which i decided against. .. Once out of the cave i just sat and absorbed my surroundings and view. ... As it had rained for about 10 minutes the way down was even more treachurous and with every step i took my heart was pounding louder. ... I think what took mi about 20 minuts to go up, took mi about double the time to go down. The leaves were soaked and created one slippery slide down the clay/limestone path. ... However my concentration was focused not to hurt myself and after a few hairy slips which i was able to stop with my walking stick and hanging on to trees i managed to get myself down again. .. Obviously quite relieved. ... I rested again and on my way back i run into the Lao who were running 'Sweet Honey' the resto and apparently charging the visitors of the cave (i noticed the different signs only when i arrived safely at the buttom of the karst. .. Pulling off leeches all the way back to the temple ground i noticed a side door open, however the mainentrance and windows were still closed and
main street Muang Ngoi
unfortunately not far enough as the whole town was again filled with travelers, guesthouses and restaurants catering to the travelers ... here is saw Rimma for the last time
only after my eyes got accustomed to the little light inside i found myself in front of Buddha (and a sort of miniature khmer looking buddha. .. While i was doing a little contemplation about letting go of all the emotional pain still lingering inside of mi, the sunlight started to enter the temple and somehow lit up Buddha's eyes as if it was watching mi. ... Gotta say it was kind of creepy, however also breathtaking and yes, here my eyes started to swell again and a waterfall of tears washed away the dirt on my face. ..
Anyway this cave is actually in a tiny little fisher's village which is only to be reached by boat an hour north of Nong Khiaw. ... And yes, the town has been totally transformed into a remote tourist trap. ... Many guesthouses now line the riverbed and little local restaurants etc were taking over the mainstreet. ... Prices for food and accomodation in Laos are kinda based on Thai prices in small villages, so to find something less than a few euros seems impossible. ... And what do the locals do with this wealth?
handy tool ...
keep luving the brooms ... this picture was taken in a local hidden away restaurant where i miracuously met two dutchies whom i sat across from the boat
No they dont invest in running water, but in scooters and satelite dishes. ... This town is actually the first where not every house has one installed. ... Also there's no electicty during the day, only from 6-10pm. ...
There are more photos below