Swinging in the rain; Muang Ngoi

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Asia » Laos » North » Muang Ngoi Neua
July 21st 2015
Published: October 2nd 2015
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Muang Ngoi: Another riverside location but more of a smaller village, made up of dirt paths extending only a couple of streets back from the riverside. Unlike Nong Khiaw there was a less developed feel here, possibly owing to its small size and lack of any real road infrastructure and so fortunately (for us) this place had no motorised vechiles. This village could only be acessed by boat.

Unlike Nong Khiaw with its sleepy, almost ghost town atmosphere; Muang Ngoi, although smaller felt more alive. We could not put our finger on why it did (as afterall it was still a small riverside village with amazing scenery). Later it dawned on us why these two riverside locations were so different..m

With Nong Khiaw (previous village) split into 2 by the river, this created somewhat of an invisible divide between locals and tourists in the last village. On one side of the river was all the guesthouses, resturaunts for tourists, and a collection of tourist agencies. Across the bridge it was mainly a local area housing noodle foodshops, vehicle part and repair stores, small convenience type stores and make shift hang outs for the locals.

This divide was not really in your face like many established tourists centres but we said to ourselves you could still feel it.

Staying in Muang Ngoi however we actually felt like we were staying in a local village, locals and tourists alike together. It felt more alive as a place despite the fewer numbers. Watching life here was beautiful. Plus our riverside cabin was nestled next to where the locals lived.

As we walked the muddy dirt paths made impossible to navigate by the rains, we tried to take in all this riverside village had to offer. We both likened it to Port Barton in the Philippines. Another atmospheric village.

As we strolled around we watched 2 youngs girls of 5 or so jumping in the mud, during heavy rain laughing together having so much fun. Men in their woven pointed hats in only their underpants would leave their boats, and enter the village with their catch of fish hanging off a piece of string. Women sat at the side of the road chatting, roasting bananas or making sausages.

There was even a handy little shack where a woman repaired clothes and also sold a small selection of her own creations such as our newly purchased water bottle holder. We also got our battered walking shoes and day pack patched up for 3,000kip/£2.50.

Locals hung out and ate noodles in the little shacks next to the more touristy food places. As we walked by, many people smiled at us saying Sabaide happily. This place had not be ruined by tourism but had intregrated it into its life.

Tourism was still relatively low but as this was rainy/low season I guess we had it far better than those who visit in peak season.

Once again we felt as though we had hit the jackpot on accomadation. A riverside cabin that turned out to be the cheapest place we stayed in the whole of Laos equipped with 2 hammocks and stools overlooking the river. This made no sense. Surely the amazing views would cost. Nope not here.

Again we spent much of our time swinging in our hammocks watching river life unfold. Men in their narrow boats fishing among the areas of the river that held trees/bushes. We observed the many different methods and techniques of fishing, from men using huge poles smashing them against the river to men diving in the river next to their boats whilst others used more traditional methods with nets or fishing rods.

Along with the fishermen, we watched small narrow boats with locals and their oversized bags packed onto a narrow boat entering or leaving the village. Young boys also played in the river, some stripping naked hanging their clothes on the trees and using the local boats to do flips into the water, laughing with each other and again having a lot of fun. Life here was beautiful and we loved it.

It did rain heavily almost everyday whilst we were here which prevented us doing our own diy trek to some of the other villages inland (via hilly mountain trails) but we didn't complain. We liked this village. It was full of life. And watching it go by from the comfort of our cabin balcony was good enough for us.

Even strolling the streets going nowhere in particular was a pleasant pastime. Sometimes cows would just casually walk past us in the streets whilst chickens and ducks would roam freely.

Our cabin was equipped with 2 hammocks and so we generally just relaxed when we
didn't stroll the village. One minor annoyance with these cabins however was that they often came full of spiders. We are not usually ones to scare easily by spiders but these spiders were huge.

One day while sitting on the toilet, P had the shock of her life. A spider the size of her hand moved on the wall right in front of her. She screamed to Chris who casually replied "oh yeah, I forgot to mention that big spider in the bathroom". Then there was the huge lizards. One sat right under P's chair at one point, with Chris noticing first, he instructed P to lift her legs, the huge lizard ran underneath and nearly caused P to fall from her chair. I guess we can't have it all in paradise.

Accomodation: Niksa's place

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3rd October 2015

"Muang Ngoi: Another riverside location but more of a smaller village..."
Appropriately named as Muang Ngoi means small village. You sure are off the beaten path, as usual.
4th October 2015

Appropriately named
It was certainly true to its name. Thanks Bob.

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