Next, we headed further north up the Nam Ou river to a tinier place called Muang Ngoi Neua. This place was only accessible by boat so we caught a very overcrowded narrow boat and chugged upstream through more breathtaking scenery. We found a cheap bungalow to stay in and then had some lunch and played some more cards overlooking the river - it was very relaxing! Eleanor, Carolyn and Rich also came - (in fact we remain with them for the whole of our Laos trip!!)
We all decided to do a day trip of kayacking the following day with a company called Lao Youth Travel. Our guide was called Cow - and he had a bad hangover! The kayacks were loaded onto another narrowboat and we chugged upstream for about 30 minutes with some rather loud lao pop music blaring out echoing around the valley! We stopped first at a remote village - the inhabitants were of Cambodian origin and didn't speak any Lao, only their own version of Khmer. They all lived in basic wooden huts - we sort of just looked around and felt a bit like we were imposing but it was interesting to see. We then got to go in the Kayacks and I shared one with Eleanor - all the little kids from the village were splashing around us in the river and trying to jump on the kayacks! We paddled downstream passing water buffalo, pigs and hundreds of butterflies - we've never seen so many, there were swarms of them fluttering around the banks. We then stopped at another village - at this one every single family seemed to be selling scarves! We didn't buy one as we didn't bring any money with us but it would have been hard to choose who to buy one from as they were all smiling so much at us!! We then paddled off again, this time to a cave - it was really cold inside and pitch black, I wimped out going any further in than the mouth - Kam, Cow, Rich and Carolyn dissapeared into the darkness and me, Eleanor and another lady waited for them - they were gone for ages and when they returned they had seen a big frog and said it was really slippery. I was quite relieved to get back on the river! We then just paddled for about an hour - it was so beautiful as it was so quiet and remote, I don't think we'd ever been anywhere like it before! We had one last stop on the way back for a cup of very sugary coffee and Rich went swimming in the river. By the time we got back we were all shattered, we showered and then headed out to another indian restaurant where we had possibly the tastiest vegetable samosas in the world!
On the day we were leaving we were woken at around 5:30am by a very loud thunderstorm and torrential rain. We had to go and check if the boat was still going to leave - of course it was! Luckily the weather cleared up slightly and we chugged back to Nong Khiaw. When we arrived we needed to get a tuk tuk to the bus station - we loaded our bags on to one when suddenly a frantic man appeared in a minibus and started grabbing all our rucksacks and loading them onto his minibus - he was in such a hurry and we didn't really know what he was doing - he was rushing us - we all just laughed and went along with it, we found out it was because there was a bus due to leave shortly and he didn't want us to miss it!! So we got there just in time for the minibus to Luang Prabang (had time for a wee next to the biggest spider I have ever seen - it had blue streaks on it errrrr)
We arrived back in Luang Prabang and stayed there for one more night at a lovely guesthouse with the kindest ladies ever - they gave us water, bananas and coffee - there was a sweet older lady who kept saying hello to us, she was sitting in an armchair but when we walked up the road she randomly appeared a few times grinning saying hello!
Next stop Vang Vieng......