Muang Ngoi - Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang Travel Blog› entry 9 of 27 › view all entries
"Took a boat Sunday, down by the sea
It just felt so nice, you and me.
We didn't have a problem or a care,
And all around was silence, everywhere."
Downstream - Supertramp
In a town like Muang Ngoi it's almost impossible to sleep any later than six o'clock. At this time the sun has come up and there's some many roosters in town that the cacophony is almost deafening. Still, we managed to squeeze out some extra minutes of sleep and after breakfast at 7 - consisting of, you guessed it, French bread and eggs - our boat left town downstream, back to Nong Khiaw. The scenery was quite different this early in the morning, with lovely hazy mists hanging around the mountains.
It took much less time to go downstream and 45 minutes later we climbed the stairs of the boat landing at Nong Khiaw. A few minutes later our van and driver appeared and we left southwards for Luang Prabang. Along the way we made a couple of stops. The first one was at a school where Keo was seemingly sponsoring some orphans. One of the teachers was kind enough to show us how the girls learned to weave and sew and how the boys were busy doing carpeting. Mieke gave a bag of kids clothing to the teacher to distribute among the kids that needed it most. All of the kids actually slept at a dormitory located on the school grounds and only got to see their parents - most of whom lived in remote villages - a couple of times a year.
Our second stop was at the house of Keo's aunt and uncle, the latter of whom was the chief of a village. Inside the house the same Beerloa posters with beautiful Lao girls that you see everywhere across Laos could be found, while from the other wall pictures of communists bigwigs like Marx and Lenin looked at them seriously.
At noon we arrived at Ban Pak Ou where we once again had a delicious lunch, before crossing the river to the Pak Ou caves. These caves, located in a limestone cliff and also known as Buddha Caves, are filled with 4.000 (mostly small) Buddha statues. From the 8th century the people already worshipped forest spirits here, but later it got filled with all of these little Buddha's. The 222 steps towards the Upper Cave (Tham Phum) were quite a challenging in the hot weather.
A full sized slowboat (which felt pretty decadent for the five of us) would bring us downstream to Luang Prabang in about an hour. Along the way we visited Ban Xang Hoi, a village that used to produce whiskey jars but is now mostly known for the production of lao-lao whiskey. It was quite the tourist trap since I only spotted two iron drums in which the strong stuff was distilled.
The rest of the boat trip across the Mekong (which had merged with the Nam Ou at Ban Pak Ou) was extremely relaxed. So relaxed that I must have dozed off for a while.
Arriving at Luang Prabang we docked at the stairs that used to be the gate to the old royal capital. On the top our driver was waiting for us, ready to take us to the hotel. We'd stay in Luang Prabang for three nights, an excellent time to sort out our luggage and get our laundry done. But of course ... not before celebrating our arrival with a cold Beerlao !
This evening we walked across the night market, which consists of countless souvenir stalls and exceptionally kind and reserved vendors.
We had dinner at the Tum Tum Cheng restaurant that came recommended by the Lonely Planet. Seemingly this was one of the best places in town to eat. It also must have been one of the most pricey ones since we ended up paying twice the amount we've done on average so far. The food was excellent though and even at these prices we paid no more than 11 Euro per person. Back at the hotel we skipped the regular last beer or bit of liquor since tomorrow would start very, very early. Want to know why ? Check out tomorrow's blog.