Nong Khiaw and its local recent history

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April 16th 2012
Published: April 18th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

on the road with pheng and phickon the road with pheng and phickon the road with pheng and phick

and so i walked out of town with the two local boys who were as much a tourist as i was ... they just didn't look back if practically the whole village was washing itself at the mountain stream next to the main road
this town exist of one main street with bunch of guesthouses and restaurants, again geared towards tourists (as the tourist industry income is so much more than any of the prior existing jobs, like farming and fishing ...) ... a bit a pity, however totally understandable everyone in town who can work in this service industry does ...

Anyway the second day Pheng (who lives up north) joined mi with a young friend Phick and together we explored the Poktha caves, a hideaway for the governing body of Luang Prabang province during the heaviest time of the secret 'unofficial' war with inwhere almost 3,000,000 bombs were dropped in Laos ... now having travelled around here for bit and spend some time with the locals it has become even a bigger question to mi that the international community had let this happen ...

We decided to walk to the cave and 'en route' we met a couple from New Zealand who advised mi like an american the previous night to make sure i'll let one of the young boys take mi/us to the caves in the back of the mountain ... and so we ventured out of town towards the
mi and sonny boy Phengmi and sonny boy Phengmi and sonny boy Pheng

Unfortunately i've hit an age that most people i travel with are calling mi their second mom ... i play with them, however also share 'my wisdom with them ...'
caves hidden in one of the huge karsts ... once again better to view story by pictures so enjoy ...

anyway the next day the kids left and i ended up spending the day with Rimma, a russian lady who had lived in Canada for long time before she ended up teaching english in Chiang Mai ... during this day there were 20 villages which descended upon Nong Khiaw for their annual boatrace, which was accompanied by a HUGE market and pre-new year fun ... the town was just one big celebration and the energy was really amazing ... everyone was having fun, everyone cheered for everyone, however later on talking to the locals in Sop Houn (Ban means actually village) i learned that their village ended up 9th, however this was way better than the Nong Khiaw's team which ended up 15th ... so as much as i think what a wonderful place, everyone helps each other, everyone supports each other, u learn that even the villages only seperated by a now very low river and a high tall bridge are as competitive as they can be ...

Anyway i've tried to catch up however still running
pheng and phick having funpheng and phick having funpheng and phick having fun

Pheng comes from little village like Nong Khiaw and Phick is an orphan living with an international orphan society, however he just turned 18, so he can't stay there any longer and he's somewhat with little guidance pushed into the world ...
behind a week ... m off to thailand now (after 3.5 glorious weeks experiencing and living in Laos - and a place i will definitly come back to ...)

Additional photos below
Photos: 32, Displayed: 23


the karst which hid government the karst which hid government
the karst which hid government

about 3.5km outside of Ban Sop Houn which is right across the river Ou from Nong Khiaw u can see the karst which had a multiple layered natural cave complex which was almost used for a decade by the province's government
steps, steps, stepssteps, steps, steps
steps, steps, steps

the first cave had a neat 200+ step staircase leading up to the hideout of government of province Luang Prabang during 1966-1974 ... where almost 3,000,000 bombs were dropped during 'unofficial' war with USA
entering caveentering cave
entering cave

caves were surrounded by dense vegetation and entrance could not been seen from ground ...
pheng entering cavepheng entering cave
pheng entering cave

however to this entrance everything is neatly groomed right now, so there was some more light ... the cave was like a HUGE ballroom, high, great acoustics ... and moist ..
history pasthistory past
history past

And then there suddenly was a sign stating 'office of governor of Luang Prabang' with a small wooden desk and unstable looking tiny little chair where he worked ... his secretary of state had his own little corner in the cave ...
it was dark ... it was dark ...
it was dark ...

and around the cave you could see the burnmarks of the torches which uses to light up the darkness ...
off to the next hide outoff to the next hide out
off to the next hide out

we found ourselves a young guide which lead us over a selfmade scary branch made ladder which was balanced against an even scarier looking steps... this constructino hovered above barbed wire ... step by step by step i managed to X it
the karst acrossthe karst across
the karst across

The back caves of the karst was covered in jungle bush and the kid led us a tiny steep path, which we would have never found ourselves ...
hon lai!!!hon lai!!!
hon lai!!!

Meaning 'it's very hot!' as it was with 105F/37C ...
obviously i got stuck here ...obviously i got stuck here ...
obviously i got stuck here ...

This cave complex existed out of multi layers, not only were the jobs, like treasurer and governments bank located here (there was even a wooden safe left behind) it also housed their sleeping quarters ... all individual little caves, of which most had been created a long looong time ago by water currents, however it looked like some seemed to be manmade in the soft limestone earth ...
pffff glad to be outpffff glad to be out
pffff glad to be out

i'm realizing m not the greatest cave explorer ... get continuously stuck, slip slide away and all i do is keep both hands against the walls and hope i go up and down in one piece ... heart pumping fast ... naah, not my thing ...
the one who got mi thru cave complexthe one who got mi thru cave complex
the one who got mi thru cave complex

thank goodness for Pheng ... i don't think i could have even reached the entrance of caves entrance if not for him, he pulled mi up some VERY steep jungle path straight up the karst ... and won;t go into details with him pushing mi thru the tiny corridors ...
little sibling watching over survilittle sibling watching over survi
little sibling watching over survi

the first night in Nong Khiaw i had been awakened by screaming fearful little piglets who experienced their first real loud thunderstorm and rain ... the next night i was awakened by a screaming cat and thought my goodness, a litter is being brought into the world, i thought i dreamed, however next day this is what i found underneath my bungalow ... a brother from previous next and a few hour old kittens ... mom was looking for food ...

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