(see map) - trin: While waiting for our Vietnam visas we took a trip north to Muang Ngoi Neua, a secluded riverside village. Due to all of the heavy rains in the region the rivers in Laos were a the highest level in thirteen years. This only added to the sense of adventure.
To get there we rode in a mini van with fifteen people for four hours to the village of Nong Khiaw. Then we hopped on a small slow boat and headed up the Nam Ou to Muang Ngoi. On the way up river we passed by jagged karsts, dense jungle, remote farmlands and plenty small naked children bathing and playing on the shores.
The village has a small network of trails between properties. There is one main road but everyone including the local livestock travel by foot.
We spent a lot of time on the deck at our guest house which overlooked the river where we enjoyed epic sunsets followed by evening lighting storms.
We tried to walk to a local cave but it didn't work out. I still can't wear boots or shoes and we quickly got into deep mud and muck. An old woman in her rubber boots came along and started laughing at us struggling through the mud in our flip flops. After that, we headed back to the village where all of the small children yelled out Sabaai-dii (hello) as we passed by.
Like the locals we washed up in the river.
We felt like the visit to this village was the first time we were off of the well worn backpacking trail. It was so peaceful and beautiful. For me, Muang Ngoi stands out as a highlight of the trip.
On the way back to Luang Prabang we rode in a sawngthaew (a covered pickup bed). We actually preferred it to the mini van. Riding with the locals and their animals was much more memorable. At one point, I heard a splat. I turned my head to discover the chicken on the lap of the woman sitting next to me had laid an egg. The egg broke when it hit the bed of the truck. It surprised us all and everyone had a good laugh.