Beautiful Muang Ngoi

Muang Ngoi Travel Blog

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Today I had the boat ride to end all boat rides.  It was fabulous.  Absolutely stunning, and by far the most comfortable boat I've had on this trip.  We had chairs with cushions, and enough legroom that I could slouch all the way to the end of my seat, stretch out my legs, and still not touch the chair in front of me.  Talk about the height of luxury.  Better yet, the motor was just your average volume, as you'd find anywhere else in the world outside of southeast Asia.  The boat motors throughout Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam are great big diesel monsters and are deafening.  To be able to hear yourself think -- unheard of.

The boat was decently sized and happily not crammed -- there were nine of us in all, plus the driver and two Lao passengers.  The others included Aaron (Canadian), Fred (French), and Simon and Matilda (Swedes), all of whom I met yesterday on the bus from Dien Bien Phu.
  Two other couples, Caroline and Scott (Scottish and American, respectively) and Catherine and James (Australian and British, ditto) rounded out our group.  It was a terrific spectrum of age and travel durations and routes and wonderful personalities.  I couldn't have asked for a better travel group.

The scenery in northern Laos is gorgeous.  Gorgeous.  In the beauty pageant between Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos, Laos is the clear winner.  Thailand's got the food (and possibly everything else), but in terms of natural beauty Laos is head and shoulders above the rest.  Thailand and Vietnam have been doing their best to catch up with the western world, and Cambodia has been utterly stripped of any natural resources/beauty it once had.  I hear Myanmar surpasses them all, which means Myanmar must be pretty spectacular.
  Because let me tell you, Laos is breathtaking.

Muang Ngoi is fantastic.  Similar to Muang Khua it is on the river and nestled in the mountains.  However, the similarities stop there.  Where Muang Khua was lacking, Muang Ngoi has in abundance -- character, charm, terrific guesthouses and countless things to do.  The best part about Muang Ngoi is it is only accessible by boat.  There are no roads that come anywhere near this place.  Not a single car or motorbike or hell, even bicycle for that matter.  Quiet, peaceful, boasting some of the best scenery in Laos, and truly wonderful.  I love it here.

If I weren't meeting a friend in Luang Prabang tomorrow, I'd absolutely be staying another night, if not four.  In fact, I've been looking at the route, trying to sort out how I can best return without too much backtracking or lost time.  Romana raved about this place and she was not mistaken.  It's a gem.  I definitely hope to be back.
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photo by: edsander