Our continuing our adventures in Laos took us on a 10 hour bus ride to the town of Nong Khiaw.
This was a quaint town where our bungalow overlooked the river and the huge bridge connecting the town. We visited a few caves here and relaxed in a waterfall, although waited for all the naked kids to leave, otherwise it would have been a bit weird.
Our view from our guesthouse balcony.
We met up with a mate in a restaurant.
Muang Ngoy Neua
We took a jam packed narrow boat up river to this even more remote town. There were no roads to get there, so we had a guy’s motorbike on there with us, as well as a goat. When we got to this small, local town, we sat down for dinner and a monsoon ensued. Eating our lunch was like a Crystal Maze challenge, noodles were flying everywhere! Meanwhile, a kid was trying to have a water fight with me, which I won. That night, as we tried to rest our weary heads, reassuring Ednora that the big spider in the room was not looking to kill us, there were some strange noises coming from outside. We opened our veranda and there were about five bullocks grazing right outside our room!
An interesting passenger on our overcrowded boat.
One of the boat masters turning up to work in his pants.
The little riverside village.
Going for a stroll.
On our way to Luang Prabang, we met an interesting gent. The first who was happy to openly discuss his country’s politics. He explained how layered it is in corruption. Apparently, officially there is an electoral system, but the votes get thrown out and The Party picks it’s own winner. Even more ludicrously, there’s only one party anyway, so all a bit of a pointless affair. He gave one example of a children’s entertainer who once quizzed the Prime Minister on live TV. He asked why there wasn’t another party. Thirty minutes after the interview, he went missing and has not been seen since. We had asked other Laotians about their current government, all suddenly getting quite nervous, but this guy was ballsy.
In Luang Prabang we checked out a few cool places. Wat Thang temple, the colonial buildings scattered around the town, and the Museum, which turned out to be the King’s old palace. It was a grand building, but the furniture, for a king, was surprisingly basic. I would describe it as not quite fit for a king. The Australians had given a boomerang as a gift, and the U.S. a piece of moon rock. I’m sure Laos would have preferred help in removing all the bombs they dropped, but hey-ho.
There was another UXO visitor centre to visit where we learnt:
The U.S. bombed the paths along the Ho Chi Minh trail, making them slippery to use and at the same time, dropped beer from the sky, so the Laotian people would get drunk, then slip off the trail. Creative.
One person is killed or injured almost every day by a UXO.
For our final day, we visited the big touristy thing to see, Kuang Si waterfall. It was most probably the best waterfall we have seen on our travels. It was gigantic, where there were so many areas to swim. The water was a stunning turquoise, hosting a multitude of wildlife in a lagoon-like feel. We climbed half way up and could look over the drop whilst relaxing in the water. Behind us was another drop, and around the back of the falling water was a cave. Swimming behind a waterfall is one thing, but swimming into a cave behind a waterfall is the stuff of movies.
Laos is a stunningly picturesque country, one of the most beautiful, and with their extremely relaxed, live for the day culture, is the perfect place for you to wind down and take in the views. It was the perfect experience sandwiched between frantic Thailand, and the equally crazy Cambodia. Next stop, Angkor Wat!
Kuang Si Waterfall.
On the way to the waterfall, there was a bear sanctuary.