Day 36 - Nong Khiaw 126 km north of Luang Prabang

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Asia » Laos » North
February 22nd 2018
Published: February 22nd 2018
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Rising early at 6.30am, we need to pack smart today.

We are spending three nights and days further North/East and only want to take a small backpack each, plus Leo's Tilley Hat and one walking pole.

We will be returning to our Luang Prabang Guest House on Sunday for our final night in Laos, before we head homebound to Cyprus, and the Manager has happily agreed to store our main 14kgs larger luggage pack until our return - yes, we will have travelled Asia for 6 weeks, with only this amount/weight of stuff, very commendable, we think.

So, having purchased our minivan tickets yesterday, we are breakfasted and sitting out in front of accommodation, awaiting pickup. As usual, things are running a little late, but we expect nothing less, that's experience for you. A Jumbo Tuk-Tuk collects us, having already scooped up 10 previously. Before we get to the bus station, we are now a squeezed 14, plus one in front with the driver! This is a vehicle that states 9max.

Fortunately, we disembark at the main bus station and are transferred to several minivans and begin our three hour road trip. Nothing of note along the way, paddies, forests, villages, children, all beautiful scenery, as is usual for Northern Laos, and full of colour. Our driver for this trip is not the best we've had so far, but doesn't kill anything en route and we arrive safely, by 12.45, which we thought a bonus, seeing as we are only here for one night.

Disembarking at the Bus Station, we decline a Tuk Tuk and walk the 1.5 km to the bridge where our Riverside stilted bungalow stands. We are really amongst the mountain range now and are staggered by it's beauty. The village itself is unremarkable other than being the staging post further north by ferry along the Nam Ou river. Which is why we are here to catch the morning ferry to Muang Ngoi. Our accommodation is over the bridge, which was built by the Chinese in 1976 and we guess is notable on the basis that it is still standing.

Today all we want to do is relax on our stilted terrace over the river and enjoy the scenery and animal life.

However, within half an hour, we are aware of distant rubbling of thunder and within 1 hour of sitting out we see a huge storm steaming through the mountains in our direction. Our idyllic river setting is changed to near tornado conditions heralded by a yellow dust storm then the surrounding trees being blown down and finally the torrential rain and hailstones.

We have no option but to retreat to our bungalow and close all doors and windows. We lose electricity, which comes and goes over the next two hours, so get our torch ready and anticipate no Dinner, and an early night as there is not even enough daylight to read by. We are so happy we weren't on the recently departed 2.30pm ferry boat to Muong Ngoi, as it is quite possible they got into difficulties, when the calm river Nam Ou turned into a wild torrent, we hope they got there safely.

Meanwhile, three kayakkers were rescued by a similar ferry boat, with kayaks, and look very sodden. Miraculously, by 4.30pm the storm appears to be over. The river has regained it's calm exterior, but is filled with bamboo branches, wood , leaves and general flotsam and jetsam from the storm and is an entirely different colour than before it. River traffic resumes it's trade.We hear distant rumbles of thunder and expect further storms this evening. Wonderful, says Paula!Friends we met on the circuit assured us the evening here are now warm so we left our sweaters and long trousers in Luang Prabang. It is coming up to 5 pm and after the storm, is already chilly. We have a feeling it's going to be a very early night and will keep the torch handy. We post this blog quickly, as the weather is deteriorating again.

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