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Published: June 22nd 2017
We arrived at the bus station with Julian just in time to miss the first bus. So we ended up setting off for Nong Khiaw at 11ish
. The public bus was a hot but a relatively comfy mini van and we met another lady called Ann who was originally from Scotland but moved to Australia 17 years ago and had been working in Luang Prabang for a few months as a paediatrician. We arrived around 3pm
and went in search of our accommodation with Julian and Ann in toe. We found a lovely spot overlooking the river with chickens, deer, peacocks and fruit trees everywhere! We dumped our stuff and went out in search for some caves which had been once used as a hospital and war refuge. A young local lad showed us round and made short work of the very steep climb up the rock face. He also pointed us in the direction of a waterfall to cool off after all the climbing "1km that way" he said. With that information in our head we marched off into the heat. About 4K later and many locals pointing fingers - we found it!
It was full of local children playing and was such a relief to dunk under and cool off after a long, hot day. It was also clear to us at this point that Laos seemed a lot friendlier to foreigners than Thailand and they were professionals in splashing water... That evening after our hike back we found a cosy spot by the river and had dinner together before heading off and getting some shut eye.
Next morning we had a beaut breakfast from a place owned by a New Zealander and caught the 11:00
boat from Nong Khiaw to Muang Gnoi - a smaller village further north. The boat trip was amazing just in itself - an hour of winding down the river past dense Jungle and bathing cattle, but when we arrived at Muang Gnoi we immediately knew we would be here for a few nights! The village was in the valley of 2 or 3 mountains on the river with nothing else in sight. Everything green and just the sound of passing boats and insects. We were met by a friendly Laotian woman called Penny who had bamboo bungalows on the river with double balconies (say no more, count us in!). The view was picture perfect, we couldn't believe how lucky we were to be sat swinging on hammocks outside our room with nothing but mountains as far as the eye could see, amazing! After we had soaked in the view for a while we headed out, with the others and a girl called Aiste.
Despite it being midday we did our usual trick of deciding to climb a mountain and began the scramble up to the view point via Buddha cave. The cave was huge and appeared to have another large section just out of reach.. jack attempted the climb in order to report back, he got a few metres up and everyone decided it probably wasn't worth the struggle, best to keep all his limbs! We then continued up to the top of the mountain entrusting our lives with very precariously built ladders and handrails. The view from the top was a brilliant panorama of the river, its island and the jungle clinging on to the mountains. After enjoying the view and sharing the atmosphere together we made our way down (going down is much hairier than going up). We all decided to cool off at the small beach next to the river and after we swam over to the other side found a perfect place to do some "cliff" (rock) jumping.
Penny's buffett breakfast was a big treat compared to some of the breakfasts we've been having so we fuelled up and headed out to trek to some of the local villages. All there were were the dirt tracks (no tarmac existed) and very basic bamboo houses with every kind of farm animal you could think of, the only running water seemed to come from one tap in the centre of the village where everyone were taking showers. We rocked up to a local who was weaving silk material on a machine that was seriously impressive. She even let Char have a bash, so if any bad stitches were in the material she's the one to blame. Not to worry it's only 2 months work to make one shawl. We went to a couple more villages which were all similar ways of living and trekking back we got caught in a huge downpour which passed as quickly as it came. This made the trek even better, the ground had turned to a clay slide and we had to abandon our flip flops and walk back with clay shoes. The clouds were hanging low in the valley and the colours looked even better with the grey sky and sun shining through. Probably the best scenery we had seen so far.
Julian and Aiste headed off together further north and so we had the next day to ourselves to enjoy our new favourite place. You don't have to do many activities when your in paradise so hammocks and beach was the order of the day.
We caught the only boat back to to Nong Khiaw and then embarked on a mammoth journey all the way to vang veing. The journey included 7 hours without a seat sat in a luggage compartment, lets just just say we were glad to arrive!
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